the observer Sat 24 October 2009
The worthy set-up of this "wildlife" quest book gives it the potential to be dull: amateur birdwatcher Charlie Elder travels the British Isles with the hope of spotting the 40 species that are on the UK's Red List and in serious decline, thereby highlighting their plight. The result is anything but. While never quite side-splitting, Charles Elder has a jovial and always enthusiastic tone, sneakily engaging non-birders, while giving us an insight into a "twitching" culture in which he's always an outsider ("L-plate" binoculars spare him "conversation about superciliary stripes and sexual dimorphism"). While Flocks Last is one of those rare books where, though you may not care about the subject at the first page, you will by the last.