I missed this one first time around coming from a less familiar publisher in the UK, so am pleased to give my (belated) opinion…
Extreme Birder | (One Woman’s Big Year) | By Lynn E Barber | Texas A & M University Press | 2011 | Paperback | 283 pages, 140 col photos | ISBN: 9781603442619 |
The Publisher’s View: In 2008, Lynn Barber’s passion for birding led her to drive, fly, sail, walk, stalk, and sit in search of birds in twenty-five states and three provinces. Traveling more than 175,000 miles, she set a twenty-first century record at the time, second to only one other person in history.
Over 272 days, Barber observed 723 species of birds in North America north of Mexico, recording a remarkable 333 new species in January but, with the dwindling returns typical to Big Year birding, only eight in December, a month that found her crisscrossing the continent from Texas to Newfoundland, from Washington to Ontario. In the months between, she felt every extreme of climate, well-being, and emotion. But, whether finally spotting an elusive Blue Bunting or seeing three species of eiders in a single day, she was also challenged, inspired, and rewarded by nearly every experience.
This journal covers the highlights of her treks to forests, canyons, mountain ranges, deserts, oceans, lakes, and numerous spots in between. Written in the informal style of a diary, it captures the detail, humor, challenges, and fun of a good adventure travelogue and also conveys the remarkable diversity of North American birds and habitat.
The Author: Lynn E. Barber of Fort Worth is a board member of the American Birding Association and president of the Texas Ornithological Society. A past president of the Fort Worth Audubon Society, she writes regularly for the chapter’s newsletter and lectures across the nation about her life as a “traveling birder.”
Other Views: “[…] Anyone planning, or even (especially?) considering, an ABA big year should study Extreme Birder: One Woman’s Big Year. Barber provides many tips and resources, in addition to what can be gleaned from the narrative, that should prove extremely helpful in planning a big year. But for those of us not undertaking such an endeavour I’m more cautious in my recommendation. Personally, I greatly enjoy birding vicariously through others’ big year tales. Extreme Birder is no exception, although I didn’t find it as entertaining or engrossing as the other books mentioned at the beginning of this review. Try one of them first if you don’t already know if you like such books. But if you tend to find birding travelogues to be insufferable, this one will likely prove no different.” – Grant McCreary (27-092011), read the full review at The Birder’s Library
“Lynn Barber challenges a traditionally male-dominated pursuit – the birding big year – and is successful beyond her wildest dreams. She is an inspiration for all who love adventure, nature, and birds.” – Lynn Hassler, author, Birds of the American Southwest
“Any birder who begins a new year by writing a list of birds seen will want to join Lynn as she goes through the year trying to find new birds for her Big Year. A bird addict whose urge can only be satisfied by seeing a new bird […] and then […] another new bird.” – Sandy Komito, author, Birding’s Indiana Jones, A Chaser’s Diary
“This is a book for birders who wish to understand the daily chronicle of extreme birding. I have nothing but admiration and not a little bit of envy for Lynn Barber’s Big Year odyssey. Her discipline, her rigor, her humour and her passion are found in very few; she is one in a million.” – Jane Alexander, actress and birder
Fatbirder View: I missed this one first time around coming from a less familiar publisher in the UK, so am pleased to give my (belated) opinion.
While echoing some of the sentiments above I found this effort rather more engaging than some. Perhaps it is because it’s a woman’s perspective, or perhaps her easy style drew me through the tale smoothly. However, what I think is different about this tale is the constant awareness of the writer’s emotions. Its not just the highs and lows of listing but a more personal narrative of fatigue or joy at being in the wild, that made the vicarious big year more enjoyable.
I’m not left envious so much as assured that there is no way, even in my fitter youth, that I would take on the rigours of such a commitment. Well done to Lynn for doing it, and more so for taking me along through her book.
<a href=”https://www.nhbs.com/product?id=190066&ca_id=5″ rel=”nofollow”>Buy this book from NHBS</a> <em>Fatbirder</em>