Stephen Moss author of ‘Wild Hares and Hummingbirds: The Natural History of an English Village’, shares his favourite wildlife reads about the nature of ‘local patches’.

His book ‘Wild Hares and Hummingbirds’ has been transformed in to a family-friendly exhibition on now at the Museum of Somerset until 26 of October.


The original and in some ways still the best of the works that trace a naturalist’s experience of the area around their home patch, both during the four seasons and over many years. A justifiable popular bestseller ever since it was first published in 1789.

A PATCH MADE IN HEAVEN – Dominic Couzens

A detailed and often delightful account of a naturalist’s gradual discovery of his local patch: Longham Lakes in our neighbouring county of Dorset. Couzens perfectly captures the journey of discovery from the first time he visits his new patch, to the way his experience develops over time.

CLAXTON – Mark Cocker

Based on his regular columns for the Guardian’s ‘Country Diary’, author and naturalist Mark Cocker focuses on the detail of the fauna and flora of his home village, in a river valley to the east of Norwich in Norfolk. The book gains greater poignancy because this low-lying area, like the Somerset Levels, is under serious threat from global climate change.

BIRDSCAPES – Jeremy Mynott

This unusual and distinctive book – subtitled ‘Birds in Our Imagination and Experience’ – is a philosophical yet very readable account of why we enjoy watching birds, and what birds mean to us. It includes a fascination section on the importance of having a local patch, and how this enhances our connection with nature.

WILDING – Isabella Tree

A very readable and inspiring account of how Tree and her husband, Charlie Burrell, turned their Sussex farm back to the wild, transforming it into a paradise for wildlife. The sense of the importance of home is balanced with the bigger picture on how we could make the whole of our lowland countryside better for wildlife.

REBIRDING – Benedict Macdonald

Young naturalist and first-time author Ben Macdonald has written an energetic, enthusiastic and well-informed manifesto, detailing how we can bring birds and other wildlife back into the whole of the British countryside.

All of the books featured are available to buy in the Museum shop. 

Find Out More

To explore further some of the themes in these books join Stephen for a talk titled ‘LOCAL AND GLOBAL: How we connect where we live to the wider world‘ at the Museum on 26 September.