As well as birdwatching, reading is also a hobby of mine.
An ideal combination of the two, therefore, is reading books about birdwatching. There are quite a few books about birdwatching out there at the moment, by the likes of the excellent Stephen Moss (who has a regular birdwatching columns in the RSPB’s Birds magazine and The Guardian), veteran TV presenter and very enthusiastic birder Bill Oddie and old classics such as Gilbert White, still in print over 200 years after his death.
My current favourite, though, is this superb book by David Lindo. For the benefit of those readers who don’t already know, David is the Urban Birder and he can be found on TV (The One Show, BBC1), in print (Birds magazine, among others) and online (his website). As his nickname suggests, his forte is birdwatching in urban areas. This is his first book, and I am pleased to report that his infectious enthusiasm comes across in print as much as it does when he’s on the telly or when you meet him in real life (I saw him give a talk at the WildlifeXpo at Ally Pally last autumn).
In his book, David recounts his birding experiences from an early age – it’s a story of a lifelong hobby and fascination that many of us can associate with, and in David’s case it’s one that has taken him all over the world. At the heart of this book is a very simple and refreshingly optimistic message – one that I find myself quoting rather a lot. In birding, anything is possible; you can find birds anywhere. His birding philosophy, in fact, can be summed up in two words: Look up. You never know what you might see until you do.