An Irish twitcher, Anthony McGeehan has written a series of entertaining and gloriously funny stories about his adventures in pursuit of birds. Many of the tales are narrated on the two CDs presented in this oblong volume. The narrations are accompanied with music and marvelous recordings of the sounds of the birds. Interspersed are humorous commentaries by Mairead McGeehan who describes the trials and tribulations of being married to a fanatic birder who can remember the date and time of a rare bird sighting, but forgets his wife's birthday. Fine color photographs accompany the essays.
Birding From the Hip is the latest release from The Sound Approach. Written by Anthony McGeehan, this collection of stories spans seventeen years and details with humor a life spent in the field. Accompanied by two CDs containing stories narrated by the author and put to music by Grammy Award nominated producer, and founder of The Imagined Village, Simon Emmerson, this title is a must for anyone who wants to take a hilarious look at the joys of bird watching. There's more to bird watching than birds.
Asked about his forthcoming book, Anthony replied," Having worked myself up from The Observers Book of Birds and pawnshop opera glasses to Swarovski ELs (and abject poverty) it is has been a cathartic experience to survey a life directed by birdwatching. Looking back and writing about what happened has given me a chance to don rose-colored binoculars and make sure that, with the passage of time and the onset of a failing memory, truth did not get in the way of a good story. The book is about the moments that punctuated days either in the company of birds or in the company of a class of humanity that both Darwin and Linnaeus overlooked - Homo orno, the birdwatcher. Somewhere in the middle of it all is a deeper meaning - expressed best by Mrs McGeehan who observed the process from the sidelines and has charted, in several pithy epistles, my descent into a Life of Birds."
"I love stories. I love birding. But best of all I like birding stories. Well, to be totally truthful, I like reading about the adventures that people have in the pursuit of finding wildlife. When I was asked to review Anthony McGeehan's book, I had to say yes. Having had the pleasure of meeting them man recently in Belfast, it was as clear as day that I was in the presence of a man who had lived a full birding life. I was curious to discover how The Sound Approach guys would handle what is apparently a complete departure from their previously published popular bird sounds formula.
Birding From The Hip is a collection of stories spanning the life and birding times of Anthony McGeehan. There are some hilarious moments and great photos too. I loved the story that involved Anthony and his buddies gaining access to a RSPB reserve having used a forged membership card. Class!
The story about his first ever Corn Crake was also a rib-tickler. Underscoring some of the earlier stories was a clear view as to how life was in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. It was this side of the story that was the most eye-opening for me, and it was told with an intelligent, dry wit. It seemed like the best birding spots were also in the most security-sensitive areas – something that would have scared the life out of me.
Of course, it wasn't all about being in Ireland. There are several stories about his birding abroad, like his trip to Newfoundland to look for 'guaranteed' Gyr Falcons and the Cranes in Spain. For me, Anthony painted a picture of birding that was fun, accessible and inspiring.
I generally found his recollections vivid and entertaining. Most of his mates sounded like great guys and his long-suffering wife was also quite funny, although I don't think that was her original intention, as there was an obviously discernable tongue-in-cheek element.
I adore Ireland and love birding there so his stories revolving around finding some lost waif in the locations often known only by locals especially interested me. And being a recent Cape Clear convert, I was keen to learn of his travels there.
Having said that, I didn't really understand the audio CDs, which were recordings of Anthony (and occasionally his wife) reading a few chapters of the book, replete with a bit of music and the occasional bird call. I think they worked well as audio guides in the previous books, but I found them a gratuitous inclusion for this one. Why? I felt that Anthony's voice was not as entertaining as in real life. It felt like he was reading off the page with great reluctance. I also disliked the music and some of the bird recordings felt as though they were put in for the sake of it.
But that was a minor negative in what really is a superb first book for Anthony. This is an entertaining read about the birding shenanigans of a very interesting man."
--David Lindo, Birdwatching Magazine
11" x 8 " ; 207 pages; weight: 2 LB, 8 OZ