Mark – The Big Year
An entertaining and informative account of
the race between three birders to beat the Big Year record in 1998. The Big Year is a competition to see
the most species on the United States and Canada in a single calendar year. Mark Obmascik’s book
uses the diaries of the three twitchers as well as recollections from fellow birders as they pile on the air miles, criss-crossing
the continent to hopefully see a reported rarity and vagrant species.
Obmascik writes in a witty anecdotal style and really
gets under the surface of the three otherwise very diverse individuals as they race, unwittingly at first, for the same prize.
As well as the humour and entertainment value, his book is also very informative chronicling, for example, the history
of man’s discovery of bird migration as well as the introduction of new species to the US such as the Himalayan Snowcock.
Big Year is an excellent, enlightening read and is highly recommended for anyone interested in birding or the psychology of
those obsessed enough to travel the length of the country to possibly see a singe, new rare species.
Read by me: 25.11.06-17.12.06
Oddie, Bill - Bill Oddie’s Little Black Bird Book
published in 1980 and re-issued in 1995, the Little Black Bird Book is a fascinating, humorous period piece. Bill Oddie doesn’t
write of birding as the widespread activity it is today but s a cult obsession pursued by fanatical, eccentric "twitchers"
who in my opinion, add nothing to the hobby's image. In LBBB, Oddie is not always totally PC and also uses self-deprecating
and rather obvious humour which isn’t the fashion now. An interesting, sometimes funny insight onto obsessional birding
in the past.
First published: 1980 (reprinted 1995)
Read by me: 25.2.05-3.4.05