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While Flocks Last [Paperback]

Charlie Elder
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

22 Oct 2009

Armed with a field guide and a half-decent pair of binoculars, Charlie Elder travels the length and breadth of the British Isles to spot forty bird species in serious decline - the UK's Red List. He looks at why their numbers have fallen, what efforts are being made to encourage their recoveries and meets experts and enthusiasts who are working to make a difference.

He also examines just why birds matter in the first place and considers the role of the birdwatcher - one species that is certainly not in decline.

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While Flocks Last + The Butterfly Isles: A Summer In Search Of Our Emperors And Admirals + Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Corgi; First Thus edition (22 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552157546
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552157544
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 221,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Joyous... totally compelling... very funny... This book is a classic of its kind" (Sunday Telegraph)

"A joy to read... An uplifting book, not a depressing one" (RSPB)

"Elder is a stylish writer and his ornithological travelogue takes him on entertaining adventures to some of Britain's most remote bird sites" (Stephen Moss Guardian)

"[This] joyous account will delight twitchers and novices alike" (Telegraph)

"One of those rare books where, though you may not care about the subject at the first page, you will by the last" (Observer)


Elder is a stylish writer and his ornithological travelogue takes him on entertaining adventures to some of Britain's most remote bird sites
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hurry While Stocks Last 1 April 2009
A great read. This is a particularly well-written book for birders and non-birders alike. Often very funny it is also highly informative (about birds, of course, but also about our changing environment, farming practices, conservation initiatives etc )and charming. The narrative holds your interest well and you find yourself wanting the author to succeed in his quest to see all the (40) birds on the present red list of our most endangered species. I was sorry to come to the end!
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really great read 1 April 2009
This is a really readable book, for birders, non-bird-watchers, those interested in environmental issues and just about anyone who wants an engaging, entertaining read. The book has
a wonderful style and manages to combine huge amounts of information with
a sustaining narrative and some excellent humorous asides. I felt so engaged with the author's
struggle to see all the birds, it really captured me.
Of particular note is the quality of descriptive writing and analytical passages- really
superb. I highly recommend this book.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious and Funny 26 May 2009
By Stewart M TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There is little doubt that many aspects of the wildlife of the UK are under threat, and a book about trying to find the 40 rarest breeding birds in the country has the potential to be a depressing read - a kind of quest for the dying. However, this book manages to be both serious in its intent and entertaining at the same time. Rare birds are found in car parks after long days in prime habitat, a species eludes the author on regular occasions and he is eaten alive by midges - all of which ring true as birding experiences. If each bird represents a "verse" of this book, then the causes of their decline becomes the "chorus" - with aspects such as habitat loss, changes in agricultural practice and climate change being repeated throughout.
Although each chapter is largely self contained I did find some of the changes from species to species a little abrupt, some occurring in the middle of a chapter. While I know a book on 40 species does not need 40 chapters some of the transitions from bird to bird were not smooth.
This is really my only criticism of an entertaining and informative book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flock to buy this book 28 Jun 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
[ASIN:0593061047 While Flocks Last: An Armchair Birdwatcher Goes In Search Of Britain's Most Endangered Species]]
What a wonderful book! You don't have to be a birdwatcher to enjoy Charlie Elder's fascinating search for the 40 species on the 'British Red List'. The book is full of amazing facts about conservation issues, it is written in a humorous & human vein. While being light-hearted at times the book also conveys the real reasons & concerns about the decline in certain species. If you have even the slightest interest in wildlife & conservation I promise you, that you will love this book.
10 out of 10. A real classic.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book I wish I had written 15 Jan 2010
While Flocks Last
I put this on my Amazon Wish List following a couple of good reviews in the paper, I am so glad that I did. Charlie Elder has produced a witty, informative book with a conversational style which makes you keep on reading.

The book tells of his 12 month long journey (punctuated by work and family life) to see all of the 40 birds on the BTO red list (those birds where numbers have dropped sufficiently to be a cause for concern). It seems there are few parts of the British Isles that he did not visit to see these endangered feathered friends, whether it was the Islands of Scotland to see the Sea Eagle or the middle of London to see a Cockney House Sparrow. Some of the birds were easy finds, others were more problematic and took quite a bit of effort. The quest to see some of the more common birds had a twist in the tale - for example he decided not to see just one starling, but a murmuration of them coming in to roost over the reed beds of Somerset. Then there were the problem birds which took a lot more effort!

The book is narrated in such a way that you can imagine that you were having a conversation with the author and is a very easy read, even for non-birders. Included are snippets of information about the red list, different habitats etc, so it also doubles as a learning resource.

Since the completion of the book the red list has been updated, I am almost inspired to go out and try and see the collection myself, just a small matter of money, work and carbon footprint getting in the way!

Overall, a fantastic read; an interesting story and informative guide to 40 British birds all in one book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars While Flocks Last 16 May 2009
This is a funny and entertaining look at the impact of humans on our environment and the impact that birds have on us. Written in an engaging and honest style I could easily imagine making the journeys and meeting the people described in the book. I recommend it as an enjoyable read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Birders' delight 22 Dec 2009
This is a really enjoyable book for birders and non-birders alike, which I bought on the recommendation of reading other people's reviews. It's written in a friendly, chatty way and, although most of us worry a lot about climate change and the effect this has on certain species, it is not a depressing book. Many people, particularly those who travel to suitable locations to go bird-watching on holiday, will be able to identify with the places the author visits and, with a bit of birding knowledge, even guess quite easily the specific bird he has gone to find, which I found to be part of the fun. A thoroughly good read, which I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone. It's a book you don't want to end.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly written. A must read for all birders.
We'll written with sincerity and humour. A very enjoyable read.
Published 19 days ago by nokemyster
5.0 out of 5 stars entertaining
very enjoyable book about the birds that we all know but are sadly getting scarcer as time goes by. a good read .
Published 2 months ago by W. Gill
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for birders..
In this case, feaher-brained is a compliment.
Published 3 months ago by Neil
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read!
Had this book and ordered another for a friend for Christmas. Very enjoyable - learned but not stuffy.
Would recommend for anyone even slightly interested in our wild birds.
Published 8 months ago by Isthatit
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
A witty and very informative book on birding. Charlie Elder sets out to try and see all the birds on the endanged red list in the UK. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Boro006
5.0 out of 5 stars Bird brainy
A touch of deja vu after reading Patrick Barkham's excellent 'The Butterfly Isles', which shares the conceit of the race to see a defined range of species within a limited... Read more
Published 19 months ago by T. W. Roberts
4.0 out of 5 stars An original quest and a delightful story
This succeeds on many levels. It is an interesting and often amusing account of the author's quest, and his enthusiasm for bird watching is inspiring. Read more
Published 20 months ago by John Baird
5.0 out of 5 stars while flocks last
There are few birders who have gone looking for a bird and not found it who will not have all the empathy in the world for Charlie and the elusive wryneck. Read more
Published 20 months ago by mitch
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST FOR BIRD LOVERS
I bought his book for my husband. He finished it in four days which speaks very well of the book! Enjoyable and I might even read it myself :-)
Published 21 months ago by book hoarder
3.0 out of 5 stars Very worrying.
Many bird species are in danger of disappearing off the planet. In other words - becoming extinct. Action must be taken to prevent loss.
Published 22 months ago by Raymondo
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