by Liz Light
The text says this book is “a very well organized love story devoted to our feathered friends which, when one really watches them, their habits, acrobatics and prettily patterned feathers, will brighten the dullest of days.”
As well as explaining the intention, this sentence gives an indication of the writing throughout – non-technical, chatty, reflecting a passion for the bird-life of this country.
Another thing that must be said about “50 Best Birdwatching Sites” is that it is full of practical information.
The opening section, 56 pages, gives a background on wider relevant topics – geography and climate, seabirds, shorebirds, terrestrial birds, habitats, and threats to bird survival. A handy glossary gives Maori, English and scientific names of each of the species.
The bulk of the book delivers what the title promises, giving descriptions and details of 50 places every birdwatcher will want to visit. North to south, they are spread throughout Aotearoa, from Iripiri Project Island Birdsong in Bay of Islands, to Ulva Island off Stewart Island. The east has not been neglected, with two entries covering Chatham and Pitt islands.
For each of the sites there’s a general explanation, description of the tracks and walks, the birdlife to be found, as well as a section of key facts giving practical information including, as relevant, best time to visit, activities, whether to take food in the case of no nearby shops, accommodation and camping sites, even how far it is from a petrol station.
Each has several colour photos, of the location, natural features, and bird inhabitants. These are all high quality – most taken by either the author or Oscar Thomas.
In fact, the quality of the whole production is very good – high grade paper, photo reproduction and clear text. A wider gutter would be preferable as this is a tightly-bound book. Maps and an index make it an even more useful and informative work to be kept handy for reference, to inspire an itinerary for your next holiday, or a very nice gift for anyone with an interest in our native birds.
Author: Liz Light.
Publisher: John Beaufoy Publishing