Backlit by the hazy gray of a winter sky, it seemed almost too big and too comical to be a real bird, as if someone had hastily glued fistfuls of feathers to a yearling bear, then propped the dazed beast in the tree….I scanned through my dog-eared field guide, but no species seemed to fit. The fish owl painted there reminded me more of a dour trash can than the defiant, floppy goblin we'd just seen, and neither matched the fish owl in my mind.
Wildlife biologist Jonathan Slaght's thrilling first glimpse of the rare and mysterious fish owl inspired his Ph.D. project to develop a conservation plan protecting the bird's habitat in the Russian province of Primorye. The remote wilderness, daunting weather conditions, and intriguing locals add intensity to this fascinating account of Slaght's research into the area, and his capture and tracking of the elusive fish owl population. What a unique adventure for nature lovers!(CH)