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Be a Birder (cover)

Publisher: Gaia Books

Publication Year: 2023

Binding: Hardback

Page Count: 294

ISBN Number: 9781856755092

Price: £ 16.99

Be a Birder: The Joy of Birdwatching and How to Get Started

Hamza Yassin is well-known for his work as a wildlife cameraman and presenter. He has worked on a whole host of television programmes, including David Attenborough’s Wild Isles, and has presented his own documentaries, in between winning Strictly Come Dancing of course. His new book, Be a Birder, is a truly joyful introduction to the world of birdwatching and never fails to spark enthusiasm in the reader. Although aimed at beginners, this book is excellent for any level of birdwatcher – I’ve certainly learned some new facts through reading it.

This book is the perfect tool to take out and about on your first bird walks as it provides a taste of the species you might find. It’s split into sections by habitat, such as ‘Cities, Gardens and Parks’ or ‘Moors and Mountains’, and each section contains 8–10 species typical of that habitat, so wherever you are in the UK you can discover what’s around you. The species range from the common, like a Blackbird, to the unusual and exciting, like a Wryneck. The book provides an overview of each species, including information such as conservation status, things to look out for and how easy they are to spot. Hamza also describes each bird in three or four keywords which is a fun and easy way to help the reader remember them, such as a Redwing being a ‘visiting winter berry-fiend’ or a Green Woodpecker being a ‘large, loud laugher’!

The wonderful thing about Hamza’s book is that it’s like carrying your own personal ornithologist around in your pocket. It goes far beyond the typical ID book and contains all the fun stories and anecdotes you’d pick up from going out on a walk with a birdwatcher. He has a fascinating fact for every species which makes you feel like you’re getting to know the birds personally. Knowing the size, weight and distribution of a bird is one thing, but it’s knowing that a Great Spotted Woodpecker has a bouncy flight pattern or that Long-tailed Tits like to hang out in big groups that really helps you spot them out in the wild!

Through Be a Birder, Hamza has opened the door of birdwatching to anyone of any age. Both informative and fun, his passion and excitement shines through the text and is highly contagious, it’s hard not to catch the birding bug!

Book reviewed by Jasmine Canham, BTO Youth Rep

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