Last week I picked up my daughter from the Adelaide International Airport. She was returning from a five week holiday in France, Italy and England. On arrival at home she produced a little gift for me. It was a pocket bird guide. It was a Collins Nature Guide called Birds of Britain and Europe by Nicolai, Singer and Wothe.
It is a lovely little book with great photographic illustrations and enough text to help identify the birds. Its small size and light weight makes it ideal to carry in a day pack while out birding – or just going about various activities on holidays even if birding is not the prime focus.
There is only one problem: now I have to go to Europe to see all those wonderful birds.
Hint # 17 Read books about birds
Birds have had many thousands of books and magazines dedicated to their identification, study and beauty. Most birders end up having at least several field guides. Many birders subscribe to a range of birding or natural history magazines and newsletters. A few dedicated birders have large libraries of bird books. There are even specialist bookshops dedicated to bird books, or at least to books about natural history.
Books and magazines are an excellent way to educate yourself about the life of birds, their characteristics, identification and distribution. The vast majority of books are broad in their scope. Some are dedicated to the birds of a region or a particular country. Others may confine their coverage to a particular region within a country like the birds of South Australia, for example. Still others confine their attention to a specific family of birds like owls, gulls or honeyeaters. Some authors have restricted themselves to just one species for the entire publication. I have in my collection a book published many years ago on the life of the Mallee Fowl, a threatened species present near where I live.
Build up your collection of bird books and magazines over a period of several years as your budget allows. They will, I am sure, bring countless hours of pleasure over many decades. If your budget is very limited, try second-hand bookshops, garage sales and stalls at markets and fetes and even eBay. Don’t forget your local library either. Our library even has a few excellent videos and DVDs about birds.
Updated November 2013.
What is it with birders (bird watchers)???
Sean Dooley, that amazing Australian birder who recently published his book The Big Twitch has done it again. This time he has birders all over Australia in a tizz.
He has asked via Birding-Aus (a mailing list) to list their favourite Sewage Treatment Plant! Apparently he is writing an article on the topic. As you do.
Actually, many birders are attracted to Sewage Farms. That statement needs some explanation. You see, birds are VERY attracted to these places. Highly desirable addresses – for birds that is. Birders naturally follow good birding sites, hence the connection. To the dedicated birder, sewage plants are heaven scent. (I wonder how many marriage or relationships have been destroyed in this pursuit???)
Personally, I can only recall ever visiting one such place, in the Clare Valley in the mid-north of South Australia. Haven’t been there for at least 25 years. Must check it out when we go to visit our daughter in a few weeks because it’s only several hundred metres from her place.