How to be a BAD Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes
|How to be a BAD Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes|
|Category: Home and Family|
|Reviewer: Peter Magee|
|Summary: A thought-provoking, funny and wise book for anyone who has ever looked a bird and enjoyed what they saw. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: March 2006|
|Publisher: Short Books|
Look out of the window.
See a bird
Congratulations. You are now a birdwatcher.
And it really is that simple, particularly when you have this book to guide you. Bird watching is not the preserve of twitchers ( defined by Barnes as someone who actively seeks stress in birdwatching) hung about with cameras and lenses but rather a simple, rewarding pastime available to everyone who cares to look around them. I knew of Simon Barnes primarily as a sports writer, but his passion and enthusiasm for bird watching had passed me by until I found this delightful book.
You will, of course, want to know why Barnes would wish you to be a bad birdwatcher. This distinguishes you from the elevated form which searches out rare birds to mentally add to their collection. Barnes wants you to take every day events – the sight of a bird in flight, or feeding – and turn it into a precious moment of enjoyment. The pure pleasure, for example of hearing a dunnock – one of the ultimate common birds – singing his heart out on a cold, frosty, but sunny January day was a song that made the whole day better.
There's humour too, in abundance. He doesn't hesitate to debunk the pompous when an expert confidently explained the difference between a willow warbler and a chiff chaff. Holding the unsuspecting bird in his hands he explained that the only way to tell the two apart was by examination of the leg colours. Having recorded all these details he said, with utter confidence that it was a willow warbler and let the bird go. It flew to a nearby tree and sang:
Chiff chaff. Chiff chaff.
The book is thought-provoking (one of the best places to see seabirds is close to a nuclear power station) and very easy reading. I thought initially that it would be a book I picked up and dipped into on an irregular basis, but it was quite the opposite. Once I started reading it was impossible to put down. I have a long-standing interest in bird watching, from the more casual end of the spectrum and I was surprised by how much I learned, but more importantly by how enjoyable it was.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
Once you've developed the art of being a bad birdwatcher you'll almost certainly enjoy Birdwatching With Your Eyes Closed: an introduction to birdsong also by Simon Barnes.
You can read more book reviews or buy How to be a BAD Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy How to be a BAD Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.