13/05/2011
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Birding from the Hip - a Sound Approach Anthology

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For such a rewarding and sometimes life-consuming hobby, it has always been a surprise to me that so few authors choose to write about birding from a ‘lifestyle’ perspective. For many, birding is a way of life, and yet relatively few books deal with the impact this can have. A few great titles do exist, but I’ve always felt my bookshelves were a little bereft of good-quality birding commentary. Thankfully, this anthology of writings by Anthony McGeehan goes a long way towards filling that gap.

 

Many Birdwatch readers will be familiar with McGeehan’s work – much of the material is taken from his monthly column in this magazine, which ran from 1992 until 1999. The book also includes a dozen new pieces, all slightly longer and meatier than the typical magazine column, as well as work from his more recent column in Dutch Birding.

 

Accepting the fact that a fair chunk of the material has been published previously, this anthology has a real charm that makes it well worth the purchase price. Punchy and thought-provoking, McGeehan’s work has always been a joy to read, but it’s not until you see it all together that you appreciate the real depth and intelligence of the writing. This book paints a vivid picture of a life lived through birds, capturing the highs and lows of all aspects of the hobby, from twitching antics, patch-watching and international travel through to conservation work.

 

In particular, it excels at exploring what it really means to be a birder, deftly picking through the inner workings of the birding mind to uncover the most fascinating intricacies of the hobby. Many of the tales are laugh-out-loud funny, and all are beautifully written and packed with insight.

 

This is a beautiful book, liberally illustrated with outstanding photographs, all reproduced with superb clarity. Also included are two audio CDs of stories narrated by the author.

 

This is a fantastic production, full of entertainment, pathos and an inspirational thirst for all things avian. A must-buy for beginners and seasoned birders, and a must-read for long-suffering non-birding spouses!

Tech spec

    Birding from the Hip – a Sound Approach Anthology by Anthony McGeehan and The Sound Approach (The Sound Approach, 2009, Dorset).

    192 pages, two free CDs and several colour photographs.

    ISBN 9789081093330. Hbk, £29.95.

First published in Birdwatch 210:45 (December 2009)

Available from Birdwatch bookshop