Monday, March 24, 2014

Extreme Birder (by Lynn E. Barber)

This book was a birthday gift from my sister, who knows me oh so well. It's an account of Lynn Barber's birding big year in 2008. At the time, it was the third biggest big year total ever recorded, the largest total that did not include the Alaskan island of Attu (which closed to birders before her big year began), and the highest big year total for a female birder. John Vanderpoel and Neil Hayward* have since respectively tied and broken the big year record, but if there were a such thing as the "woman's record," Lynn Barber would still have it at 723 birds seen in the ABA area in one year.

If you found that paragraph unbearably nerdy and boring, then this book is not for you! I think that unlike Kingbird Highway, which I could see appealing to non-birders, this is aimed pretty squarely at birders. It is a journal-style account of her year (although a few times there are some slightly confusing parentheticals clearly written later), and it might read kind of dry or prosaic or terse if you weren't a birder. It is full of wonderful color photos on almost every page and some short poems and paintings throughout, all done by Barber. Clearly a labor of love and for birding nerds like me, so much fun to read.

*I am still very bitter I didn't discover Neil Hayward's blog until his big year was over. He is now the big year record holder and it would have been so much fun to follow along. I'm currently reading Biking for Birds, by a guy doing a totally self-powered big year, and it's awesome. I'll be really interested to see if he hits 600 birds this year.




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