My book, Naturally Connected, is available from Bittern Books, Amazon and some book shops (Jarrolds, Waterstones, City Bookshop) in and around Norwich. It is also on sale at Pensthorpe Natural Park. Just to give you a better flavour of the work, I’ve pulled together some reviews I’ve received so far, which I’m sure you will agree are most pleasing. Other 5* reviews can be found on Amazon and Bittern Books.
Firstly, I’ll give a taster of the content which I hope provides a much better idea of what you can expect from the 320 pages. The production is of high quality, and there are over 300 full colour images to savour.
From Darren Archer:
‘Hopefully there will be no more lockdowns. But if it happens this is the book that will act as a lifebelt in turbulent seas. More likely though it is the book you will turn to on long winter nights or a train journey or any point when you are unable to get out and just be with wildlife.
Barry has distilled hours of being with birds, butterflies, dragons and mammals into 300+ pages of short descriptions of a place and a specific species. Norfolk is full of such wildlife rich areas it must have been hard to choose which ones made the cut. These stories are interspersed with amazing crystal clear photos taken by the author. This eclectic mix is how we view British wildlife, as seasons change and we range across different habitats.
This is not though just a catalogue of things he has seen or experiences he keeps to himself. He poses questions and leads you into his field experiences so much so that I felt I had been there when he was photographing owls hunting. He is leading you to look for yourself. He can invoke the feeling of cold when he is watching harriers and cranes coming to roost, but does not share the eerie feeling of the long lonely walk back to the car after dark; you might not read on.
It is part history, from his first wildlife memories and working with John Butcher to run YOC groups in Norwich in the 80s when he and I first met. It is also part geography and illustrates well the changes in nature reserves in Norfolk. this includes the floods that reshaped Cley NWT. Its equally not all big picture items either as he is equally at home showing you around the life in his garden and what a treat that is. So much so that many Beaver Scouts may have had their firstly encounter with wildlife in Barry’s garden. It is this willingness to share, as an equal, his wildlife experiences with anyone who will listen that sets him apart from many who think just adding a species to a list is enough.
There is some listing involved and recounting of Big Days around Norfolk are great memories including the Lark Sparrow at Waxham that stayed a few days and we could plan to take it in. If it had been me I would have told the story of being lucky enough to get our day, Cley and Pacific Swift to be in the same venn diagram. But that may have detracted from Barry’s Pallid Swift find which is cautiously teased out in the book and illustrated with a great photo of the bird head on.
Barry has also illustrated listening as well as seeing. Here readers will be pleased to note he illustrated listening to bird song in the bath with a Robin and not himself. Images can’t be unseen and we are all spared this.
His love of Norfolk is only part of the story -both as a adventure and as a volunteer at various reserves. He has also illustrated travels across five continents as he brings us close to birds an mammals that we all dream of seeing. I use one of these trips -Costa Rica to illustrate both his photography and his compassionate for the wildlife.
“I watched a heart beating today, not my own or that of a any fellow human being, but that of a tiny bird.”
This foreign travel is sprinkled with observations on conservation, climate change and young people being distracted away from wildlife experiences. They include anecdotes about altitude sickness and his ambition to see all the Bee-eaters, Rollers and Kingfishers of the world. You get a sense as well that Barry is conscious of ecological disaster and shifting baselines as he dances through his own timeline. But he does this by taking his friends and family with him, and keeping them close. Reading these pages you too will feel part of the inner circle. Hopefully you to will also share and encourage future generations to get wet and dirty and take joy in being there and seeing things up close and personal too.’
From Terry Redhead – Co-Editor of Let’s Talk magazine:
‘Lifelong Norfolk resident Barry Madden, Let’s Talk’s nature columnist, developed a love for all things wild at an early age. Now he has just completed a wonderful new book called Naturally Connected.
The book is a celebration of nature, with most articles concerned with East Anglian wildlife, although there is a sizeable chapter on his foreign adventures too. “The aim is to encourage people to step outside and discover the delights of the natural world by keeping things simple, accessible and, hopefully, entertaining,” says Barry, who lives in Norwich.
The book is full of essays and beautiful photographs and delicate water colourings by Barry, who finds fascination in every encounter, be it with a hornet in his Norwich garden, or with a gorilla in Rwanda. It’s a terrific read. The images are spectacular and, although once you start reading it is hard to put down, you can go back to it again and again and uncover another glorious photograph or read another interesting fact.’
From Bo Crombet-Beolens. Fatbirder the premier birders’ web resource about birds, birding and birdwatching:
‘……If I can’t go birding, or indulge my own birding memories, the only thing that can scratch that itch is to hear about other people’s birding. As Barry says himself, writing down his thoughts and experiences and sharing his photos is one of his ways to scratch that same itch.
I reckon I can weave a pretty good tale, and recount a birding anecdote but what I cannot do is show others my triumphs or disasters unless they are happy to strain eyes squinting at my smart phone, trying to pick up a blurred outline of a half-hidden bird up a densely foliated tree.
Barry can trump me with some excellent photos whether it be the home-grown stunner of a Short-eared Owl or the extraordinary colours of an exotic Quetzal.
I don’t think there is a poor photo among the hundreds he uses to decorate his recollections; the photos range from really nice to bloody wonderful. I envy and admire those photos…..
…….Any birder will enjoy dipping into this compendium of musings and birding days, and so connect with the nature Barry has experienced and cherished.’
From Francis Farrow, Assistant Secretary, Norfolk & Norwich Naturalists’ Society:
I found many times while reading this book a connection with the writer as my natural history journey has similar elements. Barry Madden through his enthusiasm, curiosity and just joy of the natural world has managed not only to capture ‘moments’ but has brought them to life with his descriptive writing and stunning photographs. If you are used to being out and about among ‘nature’ you will instantly identify with much of the book’s content as the essays explore local places, particularly Norfolk’s RSPB and NWT reserves, and shares privileged encounters with some of its inhabitants or a feature of the landscape. At times you can feel the cold winds sweeping across the Cley marshes from a restless North Sea or hear the rustle of reeds under a wide Broadland sky. It is almost like you are there walking alongside. There is a chapter also on foreign places – those distant areas of the world where iconic wildlife can be seen by those able and adventurous enough to travel. At the present time with travel restricted what a marvel it is to have these places and their incredible wildlife brought to our homes through personal and beautiful descriptive observations to enable us to connect momentarily with those exotic species. If you are one of the many people who have discovered ‘nature’ recently or have had time to rediscover it then ‘Naturally Connected’ is a must read. The connections created by the moments described by a true and talented naturalist will inspire you to make your own connections with the natural world, particularly the wealth of nature still on our door‐ step in Norfolk despite the threats and losses over the years. While we are not all able to express and describe our experiences so eloquently as the author, we will have those personal encounters in our minds, in our hearts, our moments to cherish and to uplift our spirits. This book will start that journey for some and bring delight to those that are already travelling.
‘Excellent read, full of anecdotes and facts. My sort of book.
Recently, Barry Madden, a good friend of a good friend, sent me a copy of his self-published book Naturally Connected; and what a treat it was. I think it is fair to say my tastes are fairly niche; birds, and waders in particular, are what float my boat. However, I am not averse to having my eyes opened when it comes to other wildlife by people who really know their stuff.
This book is not hard core, there is great attention to detail, with a balance of fascinating facts and interesting anecdotes, in a blend that will keep you eagerly wanting to turn the page to read the next account.
For me, one of the appealing factors of this book is that it comes in deliciously consumable chunks, which can be read as stand-alone anecdotes, a real boon for those of us who snatch opportunities to read when we can. However, if you have the time, Barry’s descriptive accounts of encounters with all sorts of creatures will surely satisfy your desire to learn and enjoy through his words.
What makes this book so readable, apart from the writing skills of its author, is the fact that, as a lifelong birder, so many of my own experiences are echoed in Barry’s writing. Tales of youthful discovery as a boy left to roam freely in the countryside, spellbinding days of discovery, and the lamentation of the loss of so much that was then common, but now is rare, or gone completely.
There are accounts too, of visits to places I will probably never go, but they were vividly brought to life for me to enjoy. Throughout, I was able to equate some of the empathy for the natural world that Barry so clearly has, with my own passion. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who cherishes wildlife.’