In Birders--Tales of a Tribe
author and environmentalist Mark Crocker looks back at a lifetime's obsession with "birding"; the strange places that his fascination for ornithology has taken him, and the even stranger network of friends, acquaintances and enemies who share his passion, and make up Britain's birding "tribe". This is not a guide to birdwatching, although novices will find plenty of tantalising information, and inspiration, in Crocker's ramble through nearly 30 years of feathered fanaticism. Instead it is an attempt by a man who is part of it, to understand the "tribe"--the disparate band of fellow devotees who will slog the length and breadth of Britain for the chance to spot a rarity. Crocker is interested in recording the customs, the folklore, the language and most importantly the rules
of what amounts to a secret society.
Rule No.1 is no "stringing", or claiming to have spotted birds that you haven't. Birders tells its own dark and labyrinthine tale of an alleged cheat who was eventually hounded out of the hobby--suffice to say, there's a level of duplicity and intrigue surrounding this business of birdwatching that will bewilder outsiders.
Hadn't he said he'd taken the photos from the car? Could it be that such a bird would allow this movement around it? [the photo] almost looked as if it were part of a professional shoot with a... the words lingered in the air, then finally slipped out--with a MODEL!
If you've never driven through the night on the off chance of spotting a Blyth's Reed Warbler, you may struggle to suppress the urge to decry birders as a bunch of weird obsessives--whose status within the group is based on familiarity with the minutiae of an inconsequential hobby--but it's worth the effort. This is an intriguing, entertaining read, with a surprisingly poignant conclusion, that succeeds in its aim to record evidence of a largely hidden world. --Alex Hankin
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"At last! An up to date examination of what makes birders tick. And about time too! Wonderfully written" (Bill Oddie
"A natural history version of Fever Pitch
... Reading it may even make you want to try out this strangely addictive past time for yourself" (Guardian
"Intensely readable, very funny and highly enlightening" (New Scientist
"With a mixture of well-chosen anecdotes and self-deprecating humour, Cocker succeeds in making event he most hardened cynic appreciate his passion. Birders
is a stylish work in a long tradition of fine writing on the subject" (Guardian
"The best account yet of the "tribe" and its wonderful, unworldly passions" (The Times