Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Jewel Hunter

I read this book recently and it is described as,  
"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."

When I picked this book up I wondered if it would end up reading like a tour report, but with far fewer species, I was wrong. Chris not only keeps the reader entertained with a mouth watering list of birds he sees but manages to capture the atmosphere and his personal feelings at the same time. You almost feel the pain in your own knees as Chris talks of sitting for hours motionless in stifling heat and humidity waiting for his target species to hop in to view.  The book is full of entertaining and humorous tales as he races around the world from one country and species to another. Each chapter shows a map detailing the route taken and the Pitta species encountered, whilst throughout the book photos taken on the trip help bring some of the places, people, birds, animals and events to life. In the back of the book a collection of personal photos show almost the full suit of species seen, and range from full frame shots to 'record' shots. I did find myself looking up some of the species to find better photos but the ones in the book certainly give a sense of the elusive nature of this enigmatic group of birds. All in all it is a superb read and I found it difficult to put down, even though I have never seen a single Pitta species, it has however pushed the Banded Pitta near to the top of species I would most like to see.

The Jewel Hunter is already a best-seller and the author Chris Gooddie is currently on his first UK tour! To hear the story first-hand from the man who set fire to a carefully constructed career ladder and travelled all over Asia and beyond in a lunatic mission to see every one of the world's most beautiful birds, the pittas, in a single year, then come along to one of Chris's talks tonight at theWolsey Room of the London Road Holiday Inn (IP2 0UA) on the south-west side of Ipswich near the A14/A12 Copdock roundabout. All meetings will commence at 7.30 pm.  Admission charge – £2.00 members (excluding AGM which is free) – £3.00 non-members

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