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Birders [Paperback]

Mark Cocker
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Sep 2002

Since 1972 Mark Cocker has been a member of a community of obsessional people, almost all male, who sacrifice most of their spare time, a good deal of money, sometimes their chances of a partner or family, even occasionally their lives, to watch birds.

Birders is the story of this community, of its characters, its rules, its equipment and its adventures - many of which are hilariously funny, Birders is also a work of love - the story of what birds can do to the human heart.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (5 Sep 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099289547
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099289548
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 298,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Cocker is an author, naturalist and environmental activist who writes and broadcasts on nature and wildlife in a variety of national media. His nine books include works of biography, history, literary criticism and mémoir. His latest Birds and People (with photographer David Tipling) is published by Jonathan Cape (2013) and took five years to write. His previous book was Crow Country, which was shortlisted for several awards, including the Samuel Johnson Prize (2008), and which won the New Angle Prize for Literature (2009). In 2011 he received a Society of Authors travel scholarship. He is a co-founder of New Networks for Nature, an eco organisation that asserts the central importance of landscape and nature in British cultural life. For the last 35 years his home has been in Norfolk, where time is divided between the county's celebrated wildlife, an organic allotment and the restoration of a small wooded fen. He is married to the arts professional Mary Muir.

Product Description

Amazon Review

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)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Birders - fun and factual 11 Sep 2005
By A Customer
A book which converted me from apathy to enthusiasm, written in a deceptively relaxed style, it brought smiles, even tears, but best of all a delight in birds which has given me a great deal of pleasure. I have re-read it several times and still enjoy it.
ISBN 0099289547 Birders : Mark Cocker
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A twitchers' fables for armchair moments 7 Oct 2001
This book will sell thousands of copies because apart from dear Bill nobody has actually written much about birding and bird watchers in book form. Much of the material revolves around Cockers' friends and aquantances as well as his own experiences and travels. The writing is beautiful however and captures the books point with its style - that birding is a spiritual and a deeply personal activity. Yes there are friends, clubs, trips, equipment but in the end it comes down to moments composed of "you, the bird and the light".
More of the same please from more of us - thank you Mr Cocker.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good 20 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this is a very good book an enjoyable read to the birders and non birders good good good good good good
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Favourite birding book. 24 Oct 2011
I love all of Bill Oddie's very funny bird books and DIM Wallace's Beguiled by Birds is just so great....but Mark Cocker's book is so good it's easily my it, I'm sure you'll find it a very interesting experience whether you like it or not.
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