By Carl Bovis


Carl Bovis is a photographer on a mission to make the world love birds. More than 130,000 people follow his work on Twitter, and many more delight in his images.

The best thing about Bovis' work is that he takes the time to appreciate the everyday. Too few wildlife photographers continue to photograph common birds as their abilities progress, so it’s a joy to see our beloved robins, blackbirds, and blue tits celebrated as they deserve to be.

This love of common species continues in 100 Birds. A picture book of 100 of Bovis’ photographs, it is the product of taking the time to find the beauty in the ordinary.

Bovis’ steadfast determination to take his camera out on cloudy days and shun the growing obsession to share only images that are technically excellent (whatever that means) rewards him with behavioural and situational photographs that fascinate his audience.

Take a break from staring at ultra-sharp National Geographic standard images taken in perfect (often manufactured) conditions and open this book to find something different. Many of Bovis’ shots are technically excellent, but they offer something that perfectionist photographers leave behind.

Have you ever considered what the underside of a blue tit’s foot looks like? The answer is in this book. So, too, are answers to a whole host of other questions you never knew you’d like the answer to.

A photograph of a great crested grebe diving for a fish is taken from a bridge but feels as though you’re swimming in the river. A pair of loved up wood pigeons are the picture of devotion. A velvet black water rail chick is soft and secretive. In one image, a weevil has managed to escape the grasp of a pied wagtail and clings to the wagtail’s beak; a feat of survival. Bovis has even managed to capture a black headed gull equivalent of the hair flip photos Instagram influencers like to take in the sea.

Each photograph comes with an entertaining narrative from the author explaining how the shot was taken, or information about the subject of the image. Lots of these images make me smile, and many more remind me to look more closely on my next walk.

Carl very kindly gifted me a copy of 100 Birds with the promise that I was free to write an impartial review. With that in mind, it’s only fair for me to note a couple of niggles. I didn’t enjoy the shape of this book. The long, landscape orientation lends itself to the contents, with the narrative on the left and image on the right, but it makes it difficult to hold. If you’ve read my other reviews, you’ll know I’m a pedant when it comes to editing, and the likes of some missing apostrophes occasionally distracted me from the joy of the narrative. These are mere quibbles.

This lovely book serves many purposes. Turn to it if you want to rekindle your fascination with the ordinary, motivate yourself to take your camera out, or find fresh perspective on your favourite birds.

Carl Bovis is a wonderful photographer and brings us insight into the world of our feathered friends that is uniquely his.

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