A new book called ‘H’ is for Goshawk-Review by John Miles

‘H’ is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Published by Jonathan Cape August 2014

Hardback Price £14.99
ISBN 9780224097000

A friend put me onto this book and at first glance you have not to be put off by the cover which is a hawk of sorts but does not reflect the writing inside. May be not a normal birders read but Helen Macdonald pours her heart out on a Goshawk which she trains to catch rabbits and pheasants. Even I was moved by this story which gives you a big insight into the understanding of how this hawk ticks. Every wood I see now I am looking for this elusive bird in our countryside. Sadly more Goshawks are killed in this country than Hen Harriers.


This image of this immature female goshawk with her 4 chicks is not the cover of this book

Helen reflects on a former book on this species by T I White. The contrast of the two birds being trained make them come alive even more. The use of the landscape being leant by Helen and her bird she called Mabel may be beyond most birders as they do not have to hunt for food. Knowing a hedgerow for what it could provide seems to have gone out with the supermarket. The patience of even training such a bird and the scars the bird left behind would put off most people.

Helen is knowledgeable about wildlife which comes out well with the passing of the seasons and the many hours spent walking the clay covered fields of Cambridgeshire where she lives. She certainly does not want to poach any game and when the Goshawk goes hay wire into a pheasant release pen many of you will be glad it came out with not one but two pheasants! This is such a close up encounter with such a magnificent bird many of you will only dream of seeing in the wild so read the book and fill a void.

5 comments to A new book called ‘H’ is for Goshawk-Review by John Miles

  • Falcoscot

    That’s falconry for you, until you’ve experienced training a bird like this it’s hard to take on board just how intelligent raptors are and how every single bird has a different temperament and character, makes it even harder to understand the mindless persecution these magnificent creatures still have to endure today.

  • Holy Ghost

    Hi there friends, its great piece of writing about culture and fully defined, keep it up all the time.|

  • paul williams

    Is it possible to transfer from VHS to Disc….I have a Time Life video on the Goshawk…

    Editor’s Comment. Yes this transfer is possible now and is very easy to do.

  • paul williams

    After studying Peregrine Falcon behaviour for many years now, I have found they all have their own basic instincts, and they all have very subtle idiosyncrasy’s.

  • Ewan

    Great review, I want to read the book now!