Monday, 26 December 2011

Pitta delight

No, I haven't been spending Christmas in Asia and burning up those gems of the rainforest, the pittas. But a man that spent a year searching for every one of these beauties has enlivened my Christmas with his tales of the quest. 'The Jewel Hunter' by Chris Gooddie is a book that is as much a rare thing as the birds that it is partly about - a well-written account of the modern birder in action. Chris packed in a successful career whilst in his mid-forties to try and see every species of pitta in a calendar year. As someone who dreams of making similar grand plans (but never will) and who loves pittas (I have actually seen three species - Hooded, Banded, Blue-winged) and heard a further one (Mangrove), this book appeals to me on many levels. The writing style is one that accepts that most of the readers will be birders but never the less makes it accessible to those who are not. Part travel book, part social commentary, part natural history documentation, all intelligently written with an infusion of humour, I haven't enjoyed any book this much for a while. So, what are you waiting for? Order it now. You won't be disappointed.

By the way, I don't know the author and am not on commission...


  1. Totally agree Steve. I only wish there could be a sequel but I don't think Chris has got anything planned.

  2. The only Pitta I've had Steve was at the kebab shop... :(

  3. Mark, if you know the author then please twist his arm to carry on writing. He'd have a definite paying reader here.

    Stewart, your pitta wouldn't have taken as much effort to obtain, unless you had to crawl through leeches and mozzies to get to the shop and then wait several hours for it to open...

  4. In a kebab shop in Newcastle one evening, saw me avoiding a machete wielding turk . Does that count?