| An Australian Birding Year | A Couple Travelling and Birding the Entire Continent of Austrailia in a Camper – without Killing Each Other | By R Bruce Richardson | John Beaufoy Publishing | 2020 | Paperback | 352 Pages | ISBN: 9781912081387 | £19.99p |
The Publisher’s View:
A highly personal account of a phenomenal, once-in-a-lifetime adventure that saw Bruce and his wife, Lynn, embark on a year of travel and birding across the entire continent in a camper van. Their aim was to see Australia, but also to keep a list of the birds that they saw together. That list began with two Gang-gang Cockatoos flying over their son’s yard in Torquay, Victoria and ended a year later watching a lovely little Speckled Warbler on a chilly morning back in Victoria with 638 other species seen in between. An Australian Birding Year is more than a list of birds and how, and where, Bruce and Lynn got to see them. It’s about the people and the places, and the joy of experiencing the stunningly diverse beauty of Australia.
Bruce Richardson, originally from the USA, is a semi-retired singer/songwriter and entertainer living in Lara, Victoria. He became an avid birder rather late in life and continues birding across Australia and writing about his experiences.
“The story is superb, and the descriptions of birds, places and people are all original and engaging, and I love the asides and the wise and imaginative comments that Bruce works in on just about every page. The little asides that he tosses in are all gems and they add to the value and charm of the book. I love the story, I love Bruce’s unique perspective on every topic, and I would like to make sure I get that point across.”
– Kenn Kaufman, Kaufman Field Guides
I enjoyed this slow birding romp through Australia. I think we get to know the author pretty well and his vehicles, but far less his wife and travelling companion. I could have done with more of the personal stuff and maybe some more non-birding photos too. Having said that we birders do like a list and apart from the final ‘year list’ at the end we also get plenty of birds named along the way, when they were lifers for each of the principals and where they found them.
For me there is a nostalgia, not just for the birds but many of the places I’ve visited in Australia and quite a few of the personalities I know like my friend Denise and guides like George Swann and the author of The Big Twitch Sean Dooley.
Most of the time I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, but can tell you exactly where I first saw most of the birds I’ve seen. It’s interesting to mentally compare note that way too.
What is different of course is the time-scale and to an extent the ground covered. Also, quite difference is the approach with a plan to maximise new birds and, therefore, particular places headed for to get specific target birds. Most of my time in Australia was self-guided and more about visiting great places for birding rather than targeting specific. Bruce had a spot to find Nutmeg Manikin, whereas I stumbled across them the first time a walked across the grass to Cairns Esplanade. He was alerted to a couple of Lesser Sooty Owls behind the wonderful Kingfisher Lodge in Queensland, whereas I lucked upon one driving back to my accommodation up in Daintree.
I guess for any birder reading such a book is a mixture, nostalgia, envy, and memories of the birds as well as just the sheer joy of ‘virtual’ birder. If we cannot be out there with the birds, being indoors with a birding book is not so bad.
Is this the best birding travel book I’ve ever read? Probably not, but it was very enjoyable and easy to read and transported my back to ‘Oz’, which is more than good enough.
If you’ve never been you will want to after reading this, if you have you’ll want to be back there!