New Holland: £6.99
ISBN: 1 84330 484 8
A year or so ago, a book, clearly aimed at the Christmas market, aroused much interest in the Sunday Supplements. That was Gordon Thorburn's "Men and Sheds", detailing the odd yet creative things some men do in their out-buildings; and this volume is its new companion. It introduces 40 birders, each with a potted biography, a black and white portrait (mostly by Robin Chittenden), and a picture of their favourite bird from the British list, with their reason for choosing it. Each birder recounts one or two amusing bird-related anecdotes, in an average of about 150 words, and that's it. And it's really a lot of fun.
Some of the anecdotes may be familiar, but many are fresh, and all worth retelling. It's the sort of book one can dip in to at random, and so would make an ideal gift, say, for a birder about to go into hospital — though not if it hurts when they laugh! There isn't one which fails to either amuse, or illustrate the ridiculous side of the hobby which unites them (and us), or both. Most are so bizarre, they couldn't possibly be made up.
It would be interesting to know the selection criteria for the birders featured (besides being male, of course — no female "blokes" are featured). The successful candidates include an assortment of twitchers, conservationists, sound recorders (including a former punk musician!) and film makers, artists, writers, entrepreneurs and tour guides, of varying familiarity. Many of them have spoken at our meetings, and sufficient omissions can be remembered that a sequel should already be in the pipeline.
The brief foreword is by our president, Bill Oddie. Tim Appleton (co-founder of the British Bird Fair; p16) and Tony Marr (tour guide; p60) both offer anecdotes about Bill, who also lurks in the background of the picture of Stephen Moss, the author and Bill's televisual producer and collaborator on several projects.
The book is a 96 page hardback, roughly the size of a regular paperback (148×177 mm / 6×7 in), but in landscape format, and is good value at the bargain price of £6.99. It has 90 black and white photographs and 7,000 words. Suffice to say, New Holland have it in their catalogue under "Humour", not "Natural History".
Do you have any similarly amusing anecdotes about birds or birding? Send them to our webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll publish the best on this website or in our Bulletin.
Please remember that opinions expressed are those of the individual reviewer, and not necessarily the West Midland Bird Club.
Ornithology in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands county, since 1929.
Fetched fromon Thursday 12 December 2013 06:12:49
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