By Chris Gooddie | 424 pages | 136 photos & 20 maps | Wild Guides | Softcover | 2010 | ISBN 9781903657164

A tale of one man’s obsession with rainforest jewels, this is the story of an impossible dream: a quest to see every one of the world’s most elusive avian gems – a group of birds known as pittas – in a single year.

The publishers say: Insightful, compelling and laugh-out-loud funny, this is more than a book about birds. It’s a true story detailing the lengths to which a man will go to escape his mid-life crisis. A travelogue with a difference, it follows a journey from the suburban straitjacket of High Wycombe to the steamy, leech-infested rainforests of remotest Asia, Africa and Australia.

Dangerous situations, personal traumas and logistical nightmares threaten The Jewel Hunter’s progress. Will venomous snakes or razor-clawed bears intervene? Or will running out of fuel mid-Pacific ultimately sink the mission? The race is on…

I wish publishers wouldn’t over egg the pudding… I certainly didn’t laugh out loud, nor was I on the edge of my seat with the ‘will he or won’t he’ raising my anxiety levels; I found the read really quite dry… but that doesn’t detract from its fascination.

Maybe I am envious, I’ve managed to see just one Pitta, and that was a half glimpsed disappearing act in an Australian wood while I was being rapidly eroded by ten thousand blood-thirsty mosquitos. I also managed to miss an Indian Pitta by not realizing it was hiding in a dirty ditch in Goa that I walked right by! Nevertheless, any birder who, like me, cannot help but pour over birding books and drool over the most spectacular birds, will agree that pittas are rare and beautiful and true birding jewels… who wouldn’t want to see them all! So, I say, read it and weep, but at the same time thank Chris Gooddie for sharing the chase.

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