Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 October 2017
Taking J. A. Baker's celebrated book The Peregrine as its focus, the article seeks to locate Baker's writing within a broader, less elevated field of postwar observation and publication that worked to shape new ways of understanding, apprehending and taking pleasure from the natural environment. This included the recording practices and publications of the national and county naturalist and birdwatching societies that flourished in these years. The article shows how Baker's book was as much the product of this world of organised amateur natural history as it was of the world of high literature. Baker's book also sheds light on the reconfiguring of bird-human relations within competing postwar cultures of nature and the article uses it to explore the relationship between birdwatching and the bird-centred field sport of falconry. As organised birdwatching sought to establish moral authority over other bird-centred countryside pursuits in its understanding of natural relations, it cast field sports and other countryside practices as atavistic and archaic relics of older cultures of nature. Baker's The Peregrine allows us to see the convergences between the close attention to birds of prey and an intimacy with them that was shared by birdwatchers like Baker and falconers, even as Baker's narrative also sheds light on the differences between the two practices.
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101. A6.22, R. Berry letter to Baker, 13th December 1971.
102. A6.16, K. Morrison letter to Baker, 26th November 1969.
103. A6.29, N. Wheale letter to Baker, 21st May 1974; See also A6.22, R. Berry letter to Baker, 13th December 1971; A6.24, C. McKelvie letter to Baker, 21st March 1972.
104. A6.16, K. Morrison letter to Baker, 26th November 1969; A6.28, D. Smith letter to Baker, 19th March 1974.