UK500: Birding in the Fast Lane
This is a lively, entertaining and informative account of the authorís quest over 17 years, and before his 30th birthday, to record 500+ species of the birds found in Britain and Ireland. Complemented by his own photographs and splendid paintings and drawings, he recounts car crashes, stormy sea crossings, plane convoys and even a coastguard rescue during his travels in pursuit of avian rarities. If you thought the simple pleasure of birdwatching - now one of the fastest-growing recreational activities in the world - couldn't be described as 'extreme', you should read this book. †
†Author: James Hanlon
Publisher: Brambleby Books
Year of Publication: July 2006
Format and Pages: Paperback, 136pp.
Retail Price: £9.99
Our Discount Price: £6
Sample text from UK500: Birding in the Fast Lane
In the Company of Whales
... Teaming up with my friend Adrian Webb in a hired Ford Fiesta, I soon embarked on a weekend on Shetland which I will not forget in a hurry. ... The Bee-eater was at a place called Asta House and luckily this time it proved much easier to see - in fact we saw it before the car had even ground to a halt - and 'crippling' views were enjoyed at a range of about 15 metres. Wow - what a stunner! A little larger than a Blackbird and bright emerald-green all over, relieved only by blue sides to the face, a black mask and russet throat. We even heard it call and enjoyed some brief flight views.
... It was a dispiriting sight to behold. An army of five-legged soldiers (every birder carries a 'scope on a tripod) formed a battle-line from which they glared at the 'enemy' - a clump of gorse bushes. These bushes may have attracted the bird in the first place but now they stood between us and the star of the show. And the star had a serious case of stage fright. Perhaps there would be no show today. It started to rain. Richard Millington once described the atmosphere at a crowd on the Isles of Scilly who were waiting for a no-show Hermit Thrush as 'resembling Wimbledon's Centre Court after someone had stolen the ball'. Well, this was the same. Only here†rain had stopped play. Between this and the wind, there was little chance that our quarry would show itself.
All at sea
...By teatime, things looked bleak. We had seen three Sabine's Gulls and a few Great Shearwaters, but the number of European Storm Petrels (with which Wilson's associates) was lower than usual. Realization was dawning, realization that it would not be fourth time lucky with the infamous Wilson's. We were approaching our last trawler. The glare from the sun on the surface of the sea was strong in places. Conditions were calm and everyone was relaxed; most were resigned to the fact that we were going to see nothing rare today. How wrong we were. - It was almost time to head back, but in the nick of time there was a shout of 'Wilson's Petrel', followed by what seemed like an eternity of mild confusion, a bit of running around on deck and the occasional set of directions called out. ...
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Reviews and readers' comments
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wholeheartedly recommend it. Itís great to see some nice field notes and it is evident that James is a talented artist and photographer; the Masked Shrike L. nubicus illustration in particular is superb. - Micky Maher, British Birds, 2006^ Top of Page ^