The Biggest Twitch


The ‘grown-up gap year’ seems to be more frequent these days, as people with a few decades of grafting behind them realise that they won’t be able to follow their dreams and see the world unless they do it now. Birders in this situation must surely have seeing great birds in far-flung places high on their list for their year out.

So it was for Ruth Miller and Alan Davies, who decided to go birding all over the world for a whole year. And so, the gung-ho couple headed to the tropics, with the help of friends in the bird tour industry and the proceeds of a house sale. They were able to find a record 4,341 often quality species – making birders everywhere exceptionally jealous.

The occasional dash of local colour is introduced, but with so many species to see and places to visit don’t expect too much insight into foreign culture and avifauna. I would also suggest that references to the couples’ intimacies are unnecessary in a birding book, but the story canters along at a fair old pace and will certainly make you dream of the destinations and birds they saw, and may even provide a blueprint for someone to break their record in turn.

Tech spec

The Biggest Twitch by Alan Davies and Ruth Miller (Christopher Helm, London, 2010).

301 pages, 32 colour photos.

ISBN 9781408123874. Pbk, £12.99.

Available from Birdwatch Bookshop

First published in Birdwatch 221:46 (November 2010).