Monday, January 19, 2009

Book Review: Birdwatchingwatching by Alex Horne

Birdwatchingwatching documents the year-long foray into birdwatching by Alex Horne, an investigation into a hobby that his father has long had and that Alex has never understood. In an attempt to understand his father's passion Alex challenges him to a "Big Year", a year in which the person who sees the most species is declared the winner.

Over the course of a year Alex's growing enthusiasm for birds is obvious and the way in which he delves into all the mysterious aspects of birdwatching is very amusing indeed. The style of this book is one of a naive newby to the hobby of birdwatching, almost birdwatching through the eyes of a child, making great reading for anyone who loves birds, from those with just a casual interest to the hard core "twitcher". Indeed, in the course of a year Alex participates in all aspects of birdwatching, attempting to literally become a "robin-stroker" in his back yard and twitching (unsuccessfully) the UK's first Long-billed Murrelet as well as using a birdwatching guide in Africa to boost his yearly total.

The style that birdwatchingwatching is written in belies the fact that the author is a comedian and there are a lot of very amusing insights into the psyche of birdwatchers and comparisons with Alex's first love - football.

This is an excellent read for anyone who has even a passing interest in birds or for anyone who knows a birdwatcher. A highly entertaining book that I couldn't put down and it was with great dismay that I finished it so quickly - this has very quickly become one of my favourite books ever and I can't wait to read it again.

Score: 10/10

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