Sunday, April 23, 2017

Natural Wonders of Assateague Island, by Mark Hendricks

If you're like me, you may have heard of this island on the east coast where wild horses run free, but that's about all you know  about it.  My curiosity was piqued when I saw Mark Hendricks's new book, Natural Wonders of Assateague Island.  I learned that there is much more to this little barrier island than I imagined.

Hendricks, a seasoned nature photographer, captures the wide array of flora and fauna on Assateague Island, especially the fauna.  The most well-known feature of the island, the horses, may have been washed up in a shipwreck, but probably are descended from horses brought to the island to graze.  Other non-native species are nevertheless highlights of a visit to the island, like the sika, a small East Asian elk.  As you might expect, the variety shore life and bird species is vast.  Hendricks's love for life on the island comes through in his pictures.  As his narrative explains, many of the photos represent hours or even days of patiently seeking out and waiting for the animals' elusive appearance.  To read about his encounters with a river otter and a snowy owl is to read the joy and passion Hendricks brings to his work.

I couldn't help wanting to pay Assateague Island a visit after reading this book and enjoying Hendricks's photographs.  Maybe the reality is that I wouldn't see many animals; he alludes to crowds and a huge number of visitors to the island.  Hendricks's work is a reminder to slow down, take time to get away from the madding crowd, and patiently find opportunities to look nature in the eye.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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