In this lively and humorous account, John Lee guides us through his journey on becoming an addictive bird watcher, starting gently enough with visiting bird reserves on the Suffolk coast with his brother and parents to look for rarities. But then this interest swiftly evolved into a full-blown passion, a passion that survived a spell at university, service in the Royal Hong Kong Police, and even very nearly ruined early romantic encounters with his wife-to-be, Victoria.
Author: John Lee
Publisher: Brambleby Books
Year of Publication: 12.12.2017
Format and Pages: Paperback, 304pp
Retail Price: £9.99
Our Discount Price: £8.99
Sample text from Bonkers Birding
...Birds, I suspect, were an extension of this wider knowledge of the natural world, but in time as our interest grew in birds, so did Dad’s. We saw a few other birds on that holiday, but Tom (my brother) and I only really liked birds of prey at that time. I can still remember seeing a Buzzard and several hovering Kestrels, but it was hard to get us to look at anything else. My passion was very much mammals. I would get up really early in the morning and go looking for deer, even at the age of ten. It is strange to think that my parents would let me get up and go out on my own like that. I cannot even contemplate the thought of Jack doing that these days at roughly the same age. Times were very different back then.
...The other good news was that the Solitary Sandpiper was still at Porthellick on Scilly. One more day and we were in. I had that familiar feeling of nervous anticipation before flying over, but this time we were not disappointed. We had a great first day, easily picking up the sandpiper and then finding a Red-breasted Flycatcher in Holy Vale. Suddenly, news broke of an Arctic Warbler on the Garrison.
...Having been out in Hong Kong for just under two years, a mate of mine, Dave Stanfield, suggested that we go out to Nepal to do some trekking. It was not primarily a birding trip but there was obviously a lot of opportunities to add to the list. This was a holiday that completely did not go to plan. The whole experience was quite weird, and I had one of the scariest moments of my life there.
...We decided to head back up the Gabaradito refuge to see if we could unearth Citril Finch, which had so far eluded us on our two previous visits. The day was hot and balmy, so we had the windows open. As we drove up the access road, we heard the unmistakeable call of a Black Woodpecker from the pine woods to our right. This was number three on our hit list. Fortunately, I could park the car up nearby and we scrambled over the fence into the thick pine woods. The Black Woodpecker was calling regularly and was quite close, about thirty yards downhill. We edged closer downwards…
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Reviews and readers' comments
There have been many personal accounts of birding lives, and this is the latest. John Lee is now in his early fifties but became fascinated by birds in his childhood. As with most of us, family holidays were of great significance, cementing that immediate interest. Early birding experiences in Scotland and Suffolk are recounted with great affection, as are annual trips to the Isles of Scilly. A seven-year spell in Hong Kong adds a different dimension and takes John away from UK birding, after which he returns to finally get his 400th British bird. This is a personal tale of life’s ups and downs, and reveals how our bonkers hobby can in fact stop us from going bonkers! -- Keith Betton, British Birds
This is quite engaging and clearly written giving an account of a birding 'career'. The very best bit for me is the intro written by the author's son... Fatbirder
…This is such an easy read, an honest account of a life "obsessed" with birding, and moments that made me laugh out loud and others that made me tearful. I was probably in that "soon to arrive" group of birding blades on Shetland and I had goose bumps reading John's account of the Siberian Rubythroat as I was staring at the same bit of gravel! It is so well constructed and I'm sure most birders will connect with it…. Pete Garrity, Amazon review
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