This volume, a compendium of Moss's birding columns from a decade and a half of the Manchester Guardian, gives bird enthusiasts the next best thing to birdwatching, an eloquent and insightful consideration of birds and birding. Forming an ornithological autobiography, Moss covers his childhood discovery of birds, his favorite birdwatching haunts in Britain and abroad, his time producing a birdwatching program for BBC television and his own young sons' first encounters with the natural world. Some essays are humorous (his description of geese's propensity to eat and defecate, defecate and eat interminably), others are romantic (on honeymoon in West Africa, Moss finds 60 different species ""without leaving the hotel grounds""), while others ponder the impact of individual birders; one haunting essay describes the birdwatching habits of World War II prisoners of war, who kept records of redstarts and goldfinches on toilet paper. Alongside obituaries of pioneering ornithologists Max Nicholson, Guy Mountfort, and Tono Valverde, Moss ruminates on the decline of bird populations worldwide. The importance of family is the vibrant sub-current that propels the narrative; much is made of Moss's late mother, who gamely encouraged her son's interest in birds, and Moss concludes with a loving eulogy to her. In addition to its many pleasures, this book also profiles plenty of great destination ideas for birders planning their next vacation.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2006 Release date: 10/01/2006 Genre: Nonfiction