Friday, 22 February 2013

Birds Through Irish Eyes

These aren't birds through my Irish eyes, but through the eyes of Anthony McGeehan with Julian Wyllie. I've just finished reading 'Birds Through Irish Eyes' and I enjoyed it thoroughly, but then I am a fan of Anthony McGeehan's writing.

It's hard to 'pigeon hole' this book and say who it would appeal to. It is a 'coffee table' type book with cracking photographs and some brilliant writing, which is what you would expect from Anthony McGeehan. He is a talented 'word smith'! All the breeding, wintering and migrant birds of Ireland are given individual species accounts. For each species he describes how the bird looks and gives some detail of its ecology and status in Ireland, in both a modern context and historic one.

This is his description of a male Wigeon. "Drakes affect a Mohican hairstyle with a marzipan stripe crowning a terracotta head". Or how about "Red Kites are big, lanky basketball players. Gangly at rest, with long limbs and a loping gait, launched into flight they exude elegance and agility", or maybe "Curlews have the air of old gentlemen and move sedately, like an anglepoise lamp brought to life". You won't find descriptions like that in a field guide!

If you are an experienced birder you might be put off when you start reading the species accounts, but persevere because you will learn something about most species, I know I did. If you like stunning photographs and descriptive prose, then this book is for you. 

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