Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Books about birders 1: Birders by Mark Cocker

I was looking at my draft book reviews on this blog and realised that there are a lot of books I've read about birders. I'm not talking about field guides to birds or books about bird behaviour, but books about the social activity of birdwatching or novels set in the world of birding. So I thought I'd post these reviews in a series and for the sake of completeness, include my old reviews about books about birders. So to start with here is the 'review' of Mark Cocker's Birders which I first posted back in 2009:  

I love birdwatching and spend a lot of time walking in woodlands and other areas in and around Edinburgh looking for birds. I've also enjoyed seeing interesting and unusual birds whenever I've travelled further afield, whether to the Scottish islands or to Malawi. I have never however, hopped into a car and driven hundreds of miles just to see a rare bird. Therefore I'm not really a birder, according to this entertaining and informative book.

Mark Cocker is a very engaging writer (and speaker too, I enjoyed his presentation at last year's Edinburgh Book Festival) but even he cannot persuade me that twitching (as racing after rarities is known) is a pastime that I want to take up. Too obsessive, too high a carbon footprint for an environmental activity, too exhausting. No, I'll stick to my local walks, birdwatching on holiday, waxwings outside the local school and my occasional 'is that really a white tailed sea eagle flying over the roof?' moments. 

But I definitely recommend this book.....

Birders by Mark Cocker published by Random House (UK) , Grove Press Books (USA and Canada)

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You can read the rest of my reviews of Books about Birders by following the links below:

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson.



11 comments:

egretsnest said...

I can't make myself take off after rarities either. I enjoy learning the local birds too much. Now, should I stumble across something new or rare on my walks or trips, I'm thrilled, don't get me wrong. Thanks for the recommendation though. I'll check the book out.

get zapped said...

Such an entertaining post. I felt as though I was along with you on your walk witnessing your local bird life. I too agree with your take on the footprint of such a hobby. Happy Spring!

Janice Thomson said...

You really do have a fascinating array of birds and such colourful ones too. I quite agree that chasing after rarities is not a good thing - some people do tend to take things to extremes. Was very interested in the sea eagle - a handsome bird of prey.

Coastcard said...

I gain great pleasure from reading the daily rare bird reports on the web from my study - and it is always interesting to see what has arrived in my neck of the woods. I love to combine my holidays with bird watching opportunities e.g. to look for sea eagles off Skye or puffins at Bempton. I agree with you; Mark Cocker is an excellent wildlife writer. Matt at Polyolbion blog (in my Top Blog list) is due to a reading with him in Norwich ...

Alison Wiley said...

I appreciate your decision to watch birds using your feet, rather than getting into the planes that create the carbon emissions that endanger them. It's easy in this culture to chase after beauty without considering the consequences of the chase.

Vickie said...

I will take that occasional sea eagle any day! Thanks for book info.

Kay said...

Well said. I agree. And I have been delighting in the return of the birds around our place for their autumn feeding ... No bird table here tho as there are too many cats.

Bill said...

city boy
he knows that bird
isn't a starling

Rabbits' Guy said...

I once drove, with some other nuts, a couple hundred miles into far southern Arizona and back looking for the Elegant Trogan. Everyone saw it but us.

Never again!

Rob said...

I've done some regional twitching and once done the long distance stuff (London to Northumberland for the Bridled Tern last year but we made it into a full weekend and also went to see the Roseate Terns on Coquet Island).

Funnily enough, since moving to Edinburgh the change in the array of birds here has made everything new and exciting again. Velvet scoters, Eider and Long-tailed ducks aren't birds you see in the south east and I've seen way more Bullfinches here in a few weeks than I have since I started birding!

I enjoyed Cocker's book but it seemed to be very much about a very specific kind of birder - not just a twitcher but one who went twitching in the 70s or 80s predominantly around Norfolk. His book Crow Country remains one of my fave pieces of British nature writing.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Rabbits Guy - that's one of the reasons I'm not into twitching, the chance of not seeing the bird you've travelled so far to see...

Rob - yes the book is about a very specific kind of twitcher you're right. And yes, Edinburgh is certainly a great place for birdwatching