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The Meaning of Geese: A Thousand Miles in Search of Home

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Born and raised in Norfolk, Nick has a life-long love for wildlife and particularly the wild geese that arrive there in their thousands every year. Their fluctuations, their vexed taxonomies, the “fractal complexity” of their flocks, their skill at whiffling, in which they perform aeronautical body rolls when coming in to land. Sebastián Martínez Daniell’s Two Sherpas ‘becomes a viewpoint from which we can see the whole world’. It is a quiet book that celebrates these winter visitors and, at the same time, reveals something of the author and his approach to watching nature. I saw Nick chairing a discussion at the Gathering Festival at Wild Ken Hill last year, and when I saw he had his first book coming out I was desperate to read it.

Whether on his own or with friends and experts, and in fair weather or foul, he became obsessed with spending as much time observing geese as he could – even six hours at a stretch. Above all, it is the story of Nick Acheson’s love for the land in which he was born and raised, and for the wild geese that fill it with sound and spectacle every winter. For WWF and other conservation NGOs, he worked with indigenous communities and national parks to develop ecotourism and sustainability projects. Pinks” do their summer moulting and breeding in Iceland and Greenland then head a thousand miles south to places likes Holkham, which they use as a coastal base for inland sorties to feed in beet fields – that is, if farmers have left anything for them. I enjoyed every line of his writing, I felt that Norfolk cold along those narrow roads and the tremendous feeling when watching geese whiffling at Holkham.Having worked in the wild landscapes and seascapes of every continent, Nick has huge experience of their biodiversity.

Over seven months, Nick cycles over 1,200 miles—the exact length of the pinkfeet's migration to Iceland.Passionately committed to wildlife since childhood, Nick has worked his entire life in biodiversity and landscape conservation. Equally evident from the text is Nick’s depth of knowledge, of the geese and the other wildlife portrayed in this book, but also of the landscape in which he was born and raised. I've missed the joy of helping people learn to identify new species and witness our wildest natural spectacles. Nick is proud to be an ambassador for Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Pensthorpe, a trustee of Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, a member of the steering group of New Networks for Nature, a patron of Felbeck Trust, and a recent president of Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society.

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