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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
While Flocks Last
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 26 May 2009
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.
20 people found this helpful
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VINE VOICEon 19 November 2012
Writing a book about birds could be considered a no-win situation. After all, you write about your passion for birds, and the only people who might read it are equally passionate people, who already know everything you have to write about.

Thankfully, Charlie Elder has managed to get the tone of his writing spot on for the likes of myself, whose love of birds far outweighs the dedication required to be a "twitcher". Following a year of trying to find and see some of Britain's most elusive birds, Elder explains why each one is rare, or a cause for concern, and gives beautiful descriptions of the birds themselves, and the places he finds them.

He's not a full-time birdwatcher, and so has to juggle his family time with his commitment to his challenge (and his writing). His preparation for this book means he has plenty of help from carious reserve wardens and RSPB experts, but you never feel like he's cheating. He is able to dip in and out of the mindset of a birdwatcher, as he occasionally find himself sleeping in his car, or getting up at stupid o'clock to drive to the middle of nowhere to see a bird for a few fleeting moments.

I was hooked from beginning to end. Admittedly, you probably need some interest in birdlife for this to be a fully enjoyable read, but I think even the most avid twitcher will find joy in this book.
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on 6 January 2010
What can I say other than I agree with all the other reviewers. This book isn't as specialist as it might first appear. I was moderately interested in bird watching and the nature of Britain before I read this book; now I'm very interested. In addition to all the other positive comments, I'd like to reiterate just how very well written and particularly how funny this book is; in fact it's one of the funniest books I've ever read. Charlie Elder is the sort of person I'd like to go bird watching with. No, he's the sort of person I'd like as my next-door neighbour. One of the best reads of last year.
3 people found this helpful
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on 5 July 2016
I loved this book. Loved the writing style - felt as if I was traveling around the country with the author - felt his pain, frustration and joy and want to thank him for the wonderful journey he brought me on. Thank you Mr. Elder!
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on 22 September 2015
Lovely book with a man determined to see the rarest birds in Britain. Inevitably slightly repetitive .Will he see the rarity ? You may well turn green with envy at the places he visits and the experts who help him ,never mind his successful viewing ratio. Well worth it.
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on 28 April 2018
I loved this book, it is entertaining, informative and beautifully written, an easy read, but enlightening and full of concern for species as well.
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on 8 April 2017
A charming book, full of humour, whilst not stinting on the perilous situation of birds in the UK, and globally.
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on 2 December 2015
Easy to read and if you're not an experienced birder but are interested in seeing some of the now rarer birds in the UK this book is helpful in locating their potential whereabouts. I wish I could spend a year doing what Mr Elder has done.
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on 28 June 2009
[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.
10 people found this helpful
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on 23 January 2018
As bird populations continue to decline and the 'Red List' rises this book remains a relevant read
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