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The Biggest Twitch: Around the World in 4,000 Birds Paperback – 4 Aug 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd; 1st Edition edition (4 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408123878
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408123874
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 612,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'There are casual birdwatchers and there are twitchers who'll fly halfway around the world to spot a cactus wren. Davies and Miller are the latter. Entertaining anecdotes with real honesty...even non-bird-buffs may be inspired to get out the binoculars.'
--Wanderlust, 1st November 2010

'...will make you dream of the destinations and the birds they saw'
--Birdwatch, 1st November 2010

'A great read'
--Real Travel, 1st December 2010

'It is the ideal companion for anyone setting off on a long plane or train journey.' --Sunday Express, January 9, 2011

'a fast-paced and enthralling read for birders everywhere'
--Birding World, vol. 23 2010

'an extraordinary birding adventure...you'll find yourself marvelling at the stamina of our two heroes and thoroughly inspired as well as entertained.'
--Bird Watching, September 2010

'Birders and eco-tourists will enjoy this book!'
--Birdbooker report website, 12th November 2010

About the Author

Ruth Miller and Alan Davies are self-confessed birding obsessives from North Wales. Alan is currently warden of the RSPB reserve at Conwy. His wife Ruth is a marketing consultant, and former Head of Trading for the RSPB. They dedicated one year of their lives to beating the birder's world record and smashing the seemingly impossible target of 4,000 species in a single calender year.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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I am a very keen birder and ringer and while i was egging the writers on i was shocked and very angry at the use of recorded bird calls to bring birds in particularly the very rare ones. Looking at the writers backgrounds they should have known better than to engage in this practice. Regards = Paul G. Butterworth
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Let me say that firstly I am a birdwatcher (I really think you need to be to enjoy this book fully) and I am glad I read this book, it is very entertaining. Any negative comments or criticism, now I have confessed to being a birdwatcher, are going to sound like sour grapes but this book is by no means perfect, in fact I did 'umm' and 'ahh' whether to give it 3* or not - generosity got the better of me.

The book's authors write (more or less) alternate chapters as they dash around the world trying to beat the twitching record of 3,662 species which they do quite comfortably. I preferred Ruth's writing to Alan's which was more clinical and certainly less humorous, but perhaps more descriptive of the birds themselves, although Ruth's enjoyment of shags does shine through - details I am not sure were needed really. The couple get into some scrapes, which are both amusing and worrying - shots across the bows for future birdwatchers I am sure. I did wonder whether sickly Alan was actually going to make it, if it's not vertigo then it's sea sickness or altitude sickness or some other sickness. I hope Johnson and Johnson sponsored them, Imodium sales certainly increased thanks to Ruth.

The couple come across, I am afraid to say, as a bit arrogant with that all too common problem of minority enthusiasts who believe that only themselves and like minded people are important. They moan when someone else enjoys the great outdoors but not in their prescriptive way. Also their obsession is crazy, but I guess that's what you need if you want to break the record. I always read this type of book thinking whether or not I would like to go out birdwatching (or whatever) with the author(s) and in this case I think not.
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Format: Paperback
I borrowed this book from the libary & read it over Christmas.I enjoyed it so much that I then ordered my own copy. I am a keen birder & have been to some of the places eg Spain & Arctic Norway & Finland But the writing is so good that I enjoyed the other bits too.Even though I had never heard of most of the birds they made it live.
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Having borrowed and read this book, I felt that I had to own a copy. It is highly amusing, very readable and informative. The way in which the authors wrote different chapters made for added interest and a very human side, as well as keeping their story moving. Whilst ensuring that they were seeking to establish a new record, it was clearly a budget enterprise (though the budget was heavily overspent) and included descriptions of many trips that travelling birders could visit.I was particularly taken by their time in the Peruvian Andes, where they failed to see a "Royal Cincloides" - which my trip scored. However, their list is truly impressive.
The book would provide a good holiday read as well as a useful reference for birding destinations. Obviously a reasonable interest and knowledge of the subject will help. The plates are not numerous and support the narrative rather than being a photographer's dream. I would have liked an index, but that would not have been practicable with so many sightings.
A book that I shall treasure and re-read from time to time.
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I found this book annoying at times especially when there were inaccuracies. For instance Laguna Medina in Andalucia not far from where I live, was incorrectly spelled. At one stage the maths was incorrect for how many birds remained to be seen. From memory, something like 600 birds remained, but several pages and birds later this figure was now approx 1500 - the correct figure! Even a non birding editor should have spotted that error! However I did not do as one German birding friend did and throw the book in the bin saying "Anybody with two hands and a pair of binoculars could have done the same!" Instead I lent it to my husband, no longer an enthusiastic travelling birder, who said that it made him want to leap on a plane to return to some of his favourite birding spots. As he flatly refuses to do this normally - I travel alone to go birding without a tour company to show me the birds - the book obviously has succeeded on one level. If you are an experienced, hardcore (!) birder, this is probably not for you. Those of you who have birded their locations will notice how many birds they failed to see. Evidence of their lack of initiative was the morning when there was a powercut and so they couldn't charge their recorder for "playback" which in their eyes meant they couldn't go birdwatching!! As somebody who birdwatches without "playback" although I have been known to "pish", this just about summed up their reliability on being shown almost every one of their 4000 birds!!
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Format: Paperback
A birding couple chose to take a year out of their lives and travel the world, looking to break the world record for the number of species spotted in a calendar year. It's a good idea with a lot of potential, but for me it fell a bit flat. Although written by both Ruth Miller and Alan Davies, they take it in turn to individually write the chapters. Alan's chapters turn into a bit of a droned list ("we went here and saw this bird, then this bird, then we went here...") and the best chapters are those written by Ruth. She describes more of the events that happened as they travelled. Even so, I'd still have liked to know far more about the travel side of the story. The authors visited so many interesting countries, yet we find out so little about them other than the birds that they spotted. There's a point where the authors find themselves surrounded by a forest fire in South Africa and in serious danger, but the whole episode is glossed over in less than a page. Ruth tells us about meeting the publisher for the first time and how they discuss a book that will "bridge the birding/adventure travel gap". I'm afraid that this book does cover the birding bit well, but we don't hear anywhere near enough about the adventure travel side of their trip. And lastly, the text is far too small, 47 lines crammed onto a typical 20cm tall paperback page!
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