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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like the TV series, you'll like the book!, 11 Feb 2005
This review is from: Bill Oddie's How to Watch Wildlife (Hardcover)
This book is essentially a hybrid. It combines the kind of practical, hands on instruction and advice found in Gerald Durrell's 'The Amateur Naturalist' with the lavish illustrations typical of the David Attenborough works like 'The living Planet'.
The book does a good job of capturing the feel of the TV programme on which it is based. It is divided into 3 main parts. In the first section, general advice is given on how to get started and what kit you are likely to need. The authors write enthusiastically and the style engenders a sense of involvement, actively encouraging you to go outside and get your hands dirty.
Part 2 consists of 12 'month' sections. Advice is given on what to look for and where for each month. I find this kind of thing a bit hit and miss. It's great if you happen to live in or near one of the areas identified on the maps, but you can feel a bit left out if you happen to live in the midlands for example. The majority of the sites identified in the book seem to be coastal. I am not sure if this is a personal preference of Mr Oddie or if the authors genuinely feel that this is where the best of Britain's wildlife is to be found.
The final part of the book provides advice on getting more involved in the wildlife 'scene' with contact organisations, web links and book recommendations. This section is perhaps a little short on content but what there is, is helpful.
Overall this book is a great armchair read that doesn't just offer advice; It enthuses you and leaves you wanting to get outside with a pair of binoculars and see for yourself.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Falls slightly short of the mark, 11 May 2007
This review is from: Bill Oddie's How to Watch Wildlife (Hardcover)
If this book was named 'Where & When to Watch Wildlife' it would get a 5 star review. As it includes an exclelent 'wildlife calendar' of the year with the highlights of each month and where to go to spot them. This is far and away the best section of the book and is the only part that picks it out from cheaper, more obscure guides.

Unfortunately the 'How to' part, leaves a bit to be desired. It can be rather vague and superficial, at times stating the obvious without explaining deeper. Oddie also often repeats himself (Although this is forgivable as it is not a book designed to be read cover to cover).

It is undeniable that you are paying, at least to some degree, for Bill Oddie's name. And this would be fine if you were getting the same Bill Oddie on the page as you did on the TV series.

Unfortunately away from the screen he sounds much like any other wildlife writer, with barely a flash of his typical boundless enthusuasm. One gets the feeling that the book has been severely 'diluted' by Oddie's co-authors Steven Moss and Fiona Pitcher, who seemed to have managed to do the unthinkable and tame him!

However, having said this the book is filled with terrific photos and there are useful tips here and there, with some good contacts for getting ivolved.

Overall I would say this is a good book, but to get the most from it you really need to know how to watch wildlife already!
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brimmmmming over with enthusiasm, 21 Feb 2005
Budge Burgess (Troon, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bill Oddie's How to Watch Wildlife (Hardcover)
Over the last half century, BBC television has established a reputation for the quality of its wildlife coverage. While much of the earlier focus was on overseas travel and the exotic, a change has been taking place. Many people now go and look at the exotic themselves. Meanwhile, there has been a growing awareness of the wealth of wildlife on our doorsteps - in the wild places, in the agricultural areas, and within the very heart of British cities.
Bill Oddie has secured a prominent role as a presenter of wildlife programmes. You sensed, at first, that he was almost embarrassed to admit - publicly - that he was a bird watcher ... as if it was some indication of moral or mental fragility. But he has presented a series of BBC wildlife programmes without ever losing his obvious enthusiasm: it's as if he still can't believe he's being paid to do something he loves.
It is the sheer joy and sense of wonder that Oddie brings to this latest series which is so vital to your enjoyment. He's a bit like John Peel in his ability to communicate - he talks directly to you, not to a million other people. You never sense he is talking down (pretty difficult in Oddie's case, admittedly): you appreciate that he has a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience ... but that his pleasure and joy in watching wildlife is not simply cerebral or escapist.
Oddie connects with the natural world in a spiritual way - in the sense that he emphasises that life and its vast variety is a source of wonder, a source of pleasure, but also an ever-changing tableau which should give you cause to sit back and give thanks for sunshine, for wind and rain, for the sheer, everyday pleasures and joys of living. And the joy is all the greater because it is something we can all share and communicate with one another.
Oddie emphasises that enjoying wildlife is something that can take place from your bedroom or office window. He presents a well-organised little tome to guide you through the varieties of species and activities you can expect to find each month of the year, directs you to the best venues for observation, gives you practical advice on how to stay comfortable and get the best close-up view, but he's not marketing wildlife as a sort of Cook's tour. He's not suggesting you accompany a busload of enthusiasts to go see a fox or watch a kingfisher.
This is a private pleasure, something you can do in your own time - switching off to watch and observe - and a public treasure to share with others. Find local enthusiasts to point you in the right direction, but enjoy yourself; you can find hours of (free) relaxation watching squirrels or birds, or even a ladybird patrolling a rose.
This is a neat little introduction, something you can read in conjunction with the television series (or DVD), and something you can use to stimulate the imagination of your children. Parents can unashamedly use this as a little crib guide - go on, impress your kids with something you read ten minutes ago!
Appreciate our wildlife! Do something each day to encourage it - plant native shrubs and flowers in your garden, preserve nettle patches and 'weeds', walk and take the time to look around instead of using the car! Bill Oddie has a delightfully gentle and generous style of communication and you will find this an excellent starter to stimulate you and your family to take a more knowledgeable interest in the wild.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book for nature lovers, 10 Oct 2011
Puzzle crazy (Walsall, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Bill Oddie's How to Watch Wildlife (Hardcover)
A clear and easy to understand book with lovely pictures and great tips on how to spot different types of wildlife. I love browsing this book and learn something new each time I pick it up. Very informative and interesting, especially if you enjoy spotting rare wildlife.
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