The Profit of Birding by Bryan Bland |352 pages | 16 plates with 200 colour photos | 80 b/w illustrations | New Holland Publishers | Hardback | Oct 2012 | ISBN: 9781780091242

Publisher’s View: Author Bryan Bland has led thousands of birding tours to more than 70 countries. On one such trip a bemused waiter once posed the question: “Where is the profit in birding?” Bryan is famed as one of birding’s greatest story-tellers, and he uses his book to answer this question emphatically. In short, there’s more to birding than just birds, although these clearly provide a great deal of interest and pleasure. In addition, history, dramatic scenery, location filming, plus much else from world politics to the crucial life-enhancing role of music are all featured in this light-hearted examination of the profit of birding. Tales include scrapes with terrorists, running 50 miles across the landslide-strewn Himalayas in order to keep an appointment with a tour group, and Britain’s first-ever breeding pair of Parrot Crossbills using Bryan’s beard to build their nest! Birders and non-birders alike will enjoy the humorous anecdotal narrative, while the lively text is accompanied by many of the author’s photographs and exquisite line-drawings.

Author: – Bryan Bland is famous among the birding community as a tour leader for the company Sunbird and regular contributor to magazines such as Birding World. He is based in Cley-next-the-Sea in Norfolk. The Profit of Birding is his first book.

What Others Say: ”Amazingly this is Bryan’s first book, and I feel the second volume has to be on its way. I’d love to hear about the funny things that have happened on his UK travels – I found myself laughing out loud on many occasions. This is a great book and you will profit from reading it.” Keith Betton, British Birds

”At the end of a scintillating read I said to myself, “this guy missed a career as Lawrence of Arabia. No, hold on a minute, Lawrence of Arabia missed a career as Bryan Bland!” Anthony McGeehan Birding World

Fatbirder View: I’m having a major Marmite moment. As you know people allegedly love or hate Marmite just as we either love or hate Brussels sprouts (love ‘em) or parsnips (spawn of the devil) with our Christmas dinner. It’s made major by my feeling that I am part of a tiny minority. Take Tom Cruise as an example. He is the highest paid star in Hollywood despite the fact that most people think he is more than a little bit bonkers in the nut as Paul Merton might put it. Most people, and virtually ALL women, love him. Personally I think he makes a Sequoia look animated. I cannot warm to the man and when he is in danger on the screen from invaders from Mars or agents from a broken nation I am more likely to be cheering them on than him.

I’ve read a lot of rave reviews of Bryan Bland’s book so I know I am out on a limb and have to look at why I don’t share the same high opinion of it. To my inner eye it seems more like a trip report than a biography… and the trouble with trip reports is that they are terrific to read if you just went on the jolly or you are planning a trip to the same birding destination. On the other hand, if you have no interest in seeing the birds they bore, and if you badly want to see the birds but have more chance of getting your portrait in the Louvre all you feel is extended envy. So I’m moved to wonder if that is what is stopping me from giving high praise; is my personality or prowess tiny compared to Bryan’s… I don’t know. I’ve never met the man in life, but on seeing the pictures in the book I realise we have probably crossed paths at the Birdfair. We have certainly never crossed swords or embraced so there is nothing personal going on.

I couldn’t really warm to the tales, and lots of tiny pictures do not do it for me despite the rationale given. Many years ago I read ‘Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War’ wherein Che wrote ‘…history will absolve me’. It may in my case or it may find me out for being a jealous guy… I’m sure most birders with thoroughly enjoy The Profit of Birding and I wish them, and it well.


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