Sunday book review – Purposeful Birdwatching by Rob Hume – Mark Avery


This is a lovely book, filled with an appealing mixture of wisdom, humour, nostalgia, stories, facts, speculation and common sense. It’s about birdwatching, very much birdwatching, and not just birding, for Rob Hume has watched many birds and thought about what he was seeing and, it seems, enjoyed most of it immensely.

In a mixture of reminiscences, recollections and reflections the author talks about what birds do, how to watch them thoughtfully and why it is all quite good fun providing you don’t take it too seriously.

The book is much enhanced by many sketches from the author’s field notebooks over many decades. Some of these drawings are very informative, some are beautiful, some are a bit wonky but all are far better than I could manage and they form a very welcome component of the book.

The writing reminds me much of Ian Wallace’s (DIM Wallace’s) style of thoughtful writing – and that should be recommendation enough for many people.

In these pages you will find mention of some ornithological characters, of gulls and raptors, of rarities and gardens, of books and optics, of identification and misidentification and so much more.  Hume’s attitude to Waxwings is exemplary.

If all those who look through binoculars were as thoughtful as this author , and wrote as well, the world, and the world of birding, would be a better place.  A very good read.

The cover? Attractive and accurate – I’d give it 9/10.

Purposeful Birdwatching: getting to know birds better by Rob Hume is published by Pelagic.



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