Mark Cocker is a gifted writer, able to convey vividly and gracefully his vast knowledge of flora and fauna and the passion that they continue to inspire in him. But he is not, as he admits, a polemicist. He cannot do rage; his outrage is of the silent kind. He cannot lash farmers for wrecking our fields. He cannot abuse gamekeepers for poisoning raptors to keep their precious grouse safe. He cannot even put the boot into politicians for sitting on their arses while the mass destruction of our wildlife proceeds.
Good for him! What a relief it is to have this subject explored without the usual diatribes and righteous hysteria. Cocker’s quiet tone carries great authority and his sad, sober survey of what has happened across much of the land we all share – the Our Place of the title – deserves to command respect and wide attention.
For most of his adult life, Cocker has been a campaigner. He was an RSPB volunteer in his twenties, watching over Britain’s only pair of parrot crossbills at Holkham in north Norfolk, living in a freezing caravan in the car park. Much of the early part of the