John Davies is a poet and carver of wooden birds, who regularly walks a stretch of the River Clwyd to collect driftwood for the bases for his carvings.
Described by another reviewer as a 'Curiosity Cabinet' this book includes photos of some of Davies' beautiful bird carvings (painted by his wife Marilyn) along with poetry, essays and extracts from letters.
Davies is very intellingently appreciative of other artists. One essay describes how studying the bird paintings of Charles Tunnicliffe informed the author's own representations of birds. Another offers an overview of the work of the Welsh poet R S Thomas, focussing on his love of birds while another offers an appreciation of slate carving, reviewing an exhibition and individual practitioners of this particularly Welsh art form.
Other topics addressed include competitive wood whittling in the USA; a brief history of the making of decoys (carved ducks) to lure ducks to the hunters' guns and thoughts about not being able to speak Welsh (the language of Wales, which is more widely spoken than Scottish Gaelic is in Scotland).
All the different elements combine to make a beautiful book, well worth reading and re-reading. I did, however, wish there was more poetry. The poems here are so well observed and vivid, like this extract from Charles Tunnicliffe:
His mallards do with dignity what ducks do best,
which is a very evocative description, as anyone will recognise who has watched mallards!.