Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Reading Material

I was thinking , do any of you blog watchers read proper books any more? I have always been a great fan ever since being smuggled in to Morpeth Library aged 3 ( You had to be 4 to join...)

If you are a beginner to birding or even if you aren't you should try and read some of the old literature or some not so old stuff about how birding developed in its early years...

Can I recommend -

The House on the Shore by E A R Ennion. Set in the 50s when Ennion set up his bird obs at Monks House between Bamburgh and Seahouses, its great. With some fine illustrations by my favourite artist.

Seventy Years of Birdwatching by H G Alexander. One of the absolute founders of 'modern' birding, the three Alexander brothers started in 1905 and can even remember the last Pallas's Sandgrouse invasion into Kent...

An Eye for a Bird by Eric Hosking. The founder of bird photography and still the most famous.

Discover Birds and Watching Birds both by D I M Wallace. Tiny booklets for beginners written late seventies. I defy even the most experienced not to learn something from them. Stringy or not the man is a hero.

The Handbook of British Birds by Witherby, Jourdain, Ticehurst and Tucker. 40 years before BWP and still a good reference. These chaps were right all along about 'splitting' species...

The Bird Collectors by Mearns and Mearns. In the 1800's whats hit is history and whats missed is mystery...all about the explorers who discovered many of the birds taken for granted today, and the hardships they endured. No Easyjet for these blokes...a proper 'Boys Own' set of tales.

The Birds of Siberia by Henry Seebohm. A rich Yorkshire Mill owner whose expeditions to Siberia on horseback and dog sled to hunt for the breeding grounds of Grey Plovers, Little Stint and Curlew Sandpipers.

There's a few to be going on with probably most are now out of print but look out in second hand shops, borrow or steal ( as long as its not my copy) them. It gives any naturalist a good levelling to learn about our roots in the days before t'internet...

10 comments:

Mattzappa said...

I recently bought a collection of 5 bird books from ebay 1940 - 1970, I like older books. I liked 'How to be a bad birdwatcher' by Simon Barnes, I was reminded about the book by this gents blog : http://old-buzzard.blogspot.com/

Boulmer Birder said...

MZ Dont takes Barnes tips he will make you into a bad birdwatcher (its self explanatory really)...Read books by Good Old Bird Watchers like Ken Williamson, DIM Wallace, BB ( No not me, the original BB, Denys Watkins-Pichford, David Hunt, Richard Richardson, Bruce Campbell, Peter Scott and the ones already mentioned...

Border Reiver said...

Weirdly I came across your blog whilst searching old editions of BB's output on the internet, as I'm a collector of his work (now sadly 1st Ed's becoming very expensive). I have to admit, Bill Oddie's Little Black Book of Birds was a fun. I'd recommend A Curlew in the Forground by Philip Coxon (an RSPB warden who sadly died before it was published). But do prefer older observational books, like BB's. One book I think everyone should read is Silent Spring, by Rachael Carson. I'm staggered when recruiting field researchers to come work in the Natural History Unit who's CV's read like an academic holy grail, who've never read this seminal work, or read anything much really, or often have any idea what's going on outside. It's the internet generation sadly. I was part of the last generation who learnt it all wandering over countryside, collecting eggs and just observing.

Boulmer Birder said...

Hi BR, I read BB's books as a kid. His etchings of foxes in moonlight etc interested me. The only book of his I have is 'A countrymans bedside book' 1942 2nd edit.Graet stuff.

Boulmer Birder said...

Oh and that Curlew in the foreground, I read a review a while ago ? and it looked really good I had forget about it. I might get on to Amazon!

Border Reiver said...

If you like BB's books, I can recommend, Tide's Ending, Manka the Sky Gypsy, Quiet Fields (a particular favourite) and you may already know this, but the NHBS Environment Bookstore is a great tool for in-print www.nhbs.com. oh and I missed out Richard Jefferies as a favourite author too.

Boulmer Birder said...

Thanks BR, I'll look for them...

Steve of Kingsdown said...

One of my favourites is by Canadian author Joey Slinger - Down and Dirty Birding. It's the kind of book that How to be a Bad.. should have been, and it's written by a real birder.
It should be translated into English and sold here. Get a copy if you can (cheaper from US Amazon)

darrell j prest said...

dim wits 'beguiled by birds' was genius,yes its not old,but lots of old style birding.
how about bird id books that seem to have been forgotten?

the 2 macmillan books seem to be long forgotten now.despite the them being very similar(in nature,but more pictures) to 'advanced birding' fantastic books

Blyth Birder said...

No mention of Best Days With British Birds?

Also like Mark Cocker's Birders - Tales of a Tribe and Stephen Moss's A Bird in the Bush although they make me regret not continuing with birding from when a youngster.

Instead I turned to a life of wine, women and song, aka watching Newcastle and suffering endless hangovers..more fool me.