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Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? 200 birds, 12 months, 1 lapsed birdwatcher

4.64  ·  Rating details ·  55 ratings  ·  19 reviews
A lapsed and hopeless birdwatcher’s attempt to see 200 birds in a year
As a 12-year-old, I was an avid birdwatcher. I was also a fraud, a liar and a cheat. Those lists of birds seen, ticked off like Don Juan’s conquests? A tissue of lies. One hundred and thirty species? More like 60. Dotterel, firecrest, smew? Give me a break.
So when I revived my dormant mania early this ye
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 17th 2018 by Unbound
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4.64  · 
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 ·  55 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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Paula Bardell-Hedley
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Paula by: Lev Parikian
“People are good, on the whole; bird people especially so. It's such a simple thing, to share pleasure in a slice of nature, yet so enriching, so life affirming.”
I fancied reading Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? when it first popped up on my Twitter feed earlier this year. My curiosity was piqued by the words “lapsed birdwatcher” from the book's subtitle. It describes me so well.

As the daughter of an enthusiastic YOC (Young Ornithologist's Club) group leader – which was the children's wing
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At the age of 12, Lev Parikian was an avid birdwatcher. He had a huge list of birds from the common or garden to the exotic neatly ticked off. Except he hadn't seen some of them, in fact, he had probably only seen half of them. There has been a smidgen over six hundred species recorded as being seen in Britain, and as the bird watching bug bites again after a walk around the park in an attempt to combat middle age spread, Parikian feels that this time he needs a challenge and this time to do thi ...more
Lev Parikian was a keen birdwatcher when he was 11, but as an adult he barely remembered most of what he used to know about birds. He’d confidently declare that he’d seen a nightingale and then be too embarrassed to later admit it was actually a skylark. Also, he had to acknowledge that he hadn’t been completely honest as a preteen birder: No way had he seen a black redstart, for instance. Probably about 30% of his childhood sightings could be dismissed as cheats or downright lies. As the birdwa ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lev Parikian was a birder as a boy, but his interest lapsed as teenage issues and regular adult life took over his time and interest. Then, in 2016, feeling the need to get outside and in better shape, he took up birding again, setting himself the admirable goal of seeing 200 distinct British birds in one year.

This book relates the story of that year. Though it certainly is a book about birding, it also covers much more. Parikian writes of his own family life, nostalgia for his boyhood with his
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable and deliberately amusing account of the authors progression from birding novice to pretty competent over a year. Some of the turns of phrase were new to me , as were some of the musical references, though I did find the digressions about his conducting interesting (as were all the side stories, helping to break up what could be too much about the bird watching).
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Men and birds, (the feathered type). What is it about why we become keen birders. I don’t just mean feeding our garden birds but actually going birding and trying to find birds in their natural habitat. Oh it does not end there, then we have lists and hi-tech bins and scopes that cost thousands not to mention cameras and then there is the lists. The birds you have seen in a calendar year. Lists for garden and your local patch and then you go chasing those very special rare birds that arrive on o ...more
Review and interview on my blog, here:

Here’s an extract:

“Above all else, what I most enjoyed about reading the book was the sheer joy and genuine pleasure Parikian takes in the act of simply being out there, seeing these birds, whatever and wherever they are. There is of course an aim to the exercise, a numerical target to be hit, but that’s never really the point. In a Nan Shepherd sense, the lived experience and the moment are always more important tha
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it had laugh out loud moments and was a pleasure to read, I would like to read more of his books now. It has also spurred me into renewing my own list of birds spotted which was started 18 years ago.
Paul Ferguson
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book. I follow the author on Twitter and that was how I heard about his Unbound project, which I contributed to.
It’s built around the revival of a childhood passion for birdwatching, and there are a lot of birds in it, but it’s also about music and families and growing up and lots of other things. It’s tender and warm and funny and educational and it’s really stuck with me in a way that I didn’t expect.
Jacqueline McNeil
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, Lev's observations often had coffee streaming down my nose, never a good look but one I'm sure he'd approve of. If you birdwatch, you'll love this. If you don't, you'll still love it. And then you'll join the RSPB and buy some binoculars.
Anton Collyer
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yes, this is a book about birds. But it is also a book about being human. It is about having a purpose in life, an interest shared with other people and the joy of making progress on that purpose. It is about how a purpose can become an obsession and the challenge of fitting that into everyday life. It covers curious brief encounters with humans as well as birds and our natural admiration of 'masters of their craft' regardless of whether that craft is birding or music. Reflective, self-deprecati ...more
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. It is smart, engaging and a joyful trip around a love for birding. It is very very funny and a perfect read in the midst of current dreadful news headlines and general goings-on.
Lynne Francis
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
A lovely book - very funny (wry, self-deprecating humour) and a great insight into how an obsession creeps up on you. But also full of life lessons. Part autobiographical (fascinating insights into the world of classical music and conductors) and part educational (about birds and birding). Unusual, interesting and well written, making it a real treat to read.
Tiffany Francis
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The world of modern birding is a strange one. At the core it’s full of love and fascination and connection with all that’s sweet in life. But on the Outer Rim, in the Tatooines and Dantooines of the birding Republic, it’s not always so simple. I’ve met well-meaning birders obsessed with rarities and nothing else; who silently judge as you stare dumbstruck at a chaotic swathe of waders to find one shitty Med gull; who can’t believe you can’t identify that bar-tailed godwit. But these are the exce ...more
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another book where some bloke sets himself a year's challenge to do something or other. Another enjoyable book where someone with a fairly unusual job (conductor) chats eloquently about his life, current and past. There are the usual sorts of ups and downs you get whether it is orchids or birds or visitor attractions being chased down, but entertainingly and accessibly written and does not feel like a trivial read.
Brigid Wilson
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-challenge
A lovely book which has reignited my love of bird watching.
It was perhaps a little over-written in places and sometimes the music descriptions assumed the reader has deeper knowledge on classical music and conducting, however the descriptions of the countryside and city parks where the author spotted his birds were beautiful.
Chris Brannick
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Treading a careful line between heart-breaking poignancy, keen-eyed observation of nature and laugh-out loud descriptions, this is a charming book with a twinkling sense of humour.

I have almost zero interest in birdwatching and I still loved it.
Julia Croyden
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
I loved this book. Excellent swearing and a happy ending. What more could you want?
Charles Wroth
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an easy-to-read, fun book that glows with humanity. Lev writes with playfulness and an evident love of words and language. His descriptive passages are strong and evocative, but he also has a keen sense of the absurd so that you find him effortlessly segueing from the language of Somerset Maugham or Wodehouse to modern street slang.

He is a great proponent of hyperbole but is also self-deprecating and unafraid of baring his soul. The mixture is delightful.
Pam Cummins
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John Bevan
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John Wallace
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Oct 08, 2018
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Jun 24, 2019
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