By Simon Barnes
Published by Short Books, 2004
The perfect Christmas present for expert or beginner. Despite its title, this is actually a very well conceived introduction to natural history in general, and birding in particular. Simon Barnes is a regular supporter of the World Land Trust, living a stone's throw away, and in between his regular job as the chief Sports Writer at the Times, he is an avid birdwatcher. But not, as he emphasises, a twitcher.
Written in a very light-hearted way, this volume is actually very concise and serves also as a refresher course for a naturalist whatever their skill level. By presenting his thoughts in such a clear and logical way, it makes you think about your attitude to wildlife in a fresh way. Some of Simon's interpretations may at first appear too simplistic, but that's of no account – for the beginner it needs to be simple, and the expert needs to be challenged. It's a thoroughly thought provoking book. And the ideal antidote to the afternoon of TV over Christmas.
Simon Barnes donates the public lending rights in this, and his other books, to support WLT through Green Ink.
Review by John Burton