13 Dec 2010

My Favourite 40 Books about Birds, Birding and Bird Photography (Part 2: The Second Ten)

11. Top 100 Birding Sites of the World by Dominic Couzens
I really like this book as it fills you with pipe dreams of where you could go birding in the world. Do I want to go to Merzouga in Morocco to catch up with the Houbara Bustard, Andasibe in Madagascar to see the Common Sunbird-asity, Abra Patricia in Peru to see the Marvellous Spatuletail, a pelagic in Monterey Bay off the coast of California to see the Black-footed Albatross or the Bale Mountains in Ethiopia to see the Spot-breasted Lapwing. It just fills you with dreams of birding in foreign shores.

12. Birds of Southern Africa by Ian Sinclair (originally from Northern Ireland) Phil Hockey and Warwick Tarboton
This has to be in my opinion the guidebook if you are going to the Southern half of Africa. I used it on my visit to Namibia and found it invaluable. You can even get it now as an app for the Iphone.

 13. Down the Long Wind by Garth Christian
My parents have had this book for as long as I can remember and I would have read it in my teens when I had a voracious appetite for reading. It was published in 1961 and is all about bird migration.
 14. The Big Twitch
This to me is the best twitching book that I have read. It is gripping, amusing and unputdownable. Sean Dooley tries to break the record for the amount of birds seen in Australia in one year. Not that I have the inclination to do a big year, well maybe I might be keen on photographing as many birds as I can in one year. However in the book Dooley writes "infact the older I got, the more important birdwatching became to me. It went from just a hobby to being fundamental to my sense of self and a vital component in maintaining my mental health." I feel in total agreement with this comment as do I am sure many other birders. Go get it it's the best twitch book there is.
 15. Shorebirds by Hayman, Marchant and Prater
An excellent guide to the Wader species of the world. Hayman doing the illustrations which I think are excellent. A couple of years ago I bought a plate of Black Grouse that Hayman did for the Birds of the Western Palearctic Concise Volume 1. I think highly of his skills as a bird illustrator.
16. Border Reflections by Lord Home
In my teens I used to shoot and fish alot and I was given this book by my father. It is a signed edition by Lord Home (pronounced Hume) who was Prime Minister from 1963 to 1964. The book was illustrated by Rodger McPhail an outstanding sporting artist. Even though I gave up shooting four to five years ago it is one of my favourite books. Strangely a few years after I received it I was travelling through Europe on the Interail. I met three girls from London on a train in Italy and I continued travelling with them for a few weeks and one of them, Fiona, who I quite fancied, was Lord Home's granddaughter.
17. Masterpieces of Bird Photography by Eric Hosking and Harold Lowes
This book was published in 1947 and has amazing black and white prints of birds photographed in Britain going back to as early as 1892 by the Kearton brothers. There is a great photo of a pair of Black Throated Divers at their nest in Argyll taken by J.E Ruxton. It was taken with 8.5 inch focal length lens which today would be a 200mm lens at f8 for 1/4 second. Amazingly the photo is sharp.
Even in 1914 Douglas English, President of the Zoological Photographic Club, was concerned with photographs of captive species. He wrote "The true function of nature photography is to record and illustrate natural phenomena, without addition, without suppression, and above all things, without exaggeration of the difficulties involved." He also wrote "publication of a natural history photograph which purports to be a photograph from life, but which is in fact a photograph of a posed specimen, is in our view, a contemptible form of dishonesty" !!!!

 18. Blokes and Birds edited by Stephen Moss
My sister gave me this for my birthday six years ago. It is pieces written by well known members of the British Birding community and relates a tale by each of them and also mentioning their favourite bird. On one side of each page there is a nice black and white portrait of each birder.
19. Flight Identification of European Seabirds by Blomdahl, Breife and Holmstrom
I bought this when I first started to seawatch in the hope that it may help me identify seabirds. It is a photographic guide and pretty good. My only point against it is that most of the photographs are taken on really beautiful days and in reality the weather on a seawatch is rarely as nice.
 20. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America
This is my latest acquisition as I thought it maybe helpful if I found an American bird on Inishbofin and didn't know what it was. It's a really nice guide and nicely illustrated. I use it quite often when reading American Birding blogs and am not sure about the species that is been talked about.

1 comment:

Harry Hilders said...

Thanks for sharing.