In this short book, the famed ornithologist outlines the details of a three month summer field trip he made with his colleague Sergey. The account gives a detailed overview of the fieldwork itself, life in the camp and information on what happened after the trip, from writing up the report to a longer term overview of developments around the study area (which doesn't bode well for the species that were studied).
Ryabitsev writes in a very engaging style and the reader gets to know individual birds as personalities as well as getting detailed scientific insights into the daily life and ecology of the warblers and other creatures in the area. The study focussed on the territorial behaviour of the two species of warbler and reveals how the two species interact and compares their nesting habits and their food sources.The writing makes clear how painstaking the research was and how closely the scientists observed everything the birds did:
'A warbler building a nest conducts itself in a very characteristic manner. Flitting like a butterfly just above the ground, it discerningly selects the building material suited to its engineering strategy. Sometimes it seems as though any herbage from anywhere will do, even from just around the nest, but another time the female will fly off a hundred metres, then rummage around, select a piece of plant material, throw it away then fly to another spot and choose something else.'
The interactions between birds are fascinating and at times the book reads almost like an avian soap opera.
We find out about ringing birds, the strange way time passes in 24 hour daylight, the challenges of working surrounded by biting insects and the ecology of the wider area.
This is a wonderful book for anyone interested in ecology or birds, it inspires the reader to get outdoors and pay more attention to the small details of what is going on around us in the natural world.
The book is illustrated by Ryabitsev's beautiful line drawings.
One Season in the Taiga written and illustrated by Vadim Ryabitsev, translated by G H Harper, published (1998) by Russian Nature Press. (out of Print)