In January of this year, I started a temp job after my ‘A’ levels at the National Parks Board. It’s a statutory board that oversees the greenery and biodiversity in Singapore. I had the privilege of working with people who were passionate about nature, biodiversity and conservation. One of the small projects that I got to help out with was a citizen science Heron Watch survey. This activity recruits locals to survey for Herons along our waterways and in our parks. As part of the preparation, my new colleagues and I got to go out to recce these sites. Along the way, we were guided by a relatively experienced birder. With the help of another new temp staffer who was also fairly familiar with local birds, I learnt so much about the local bird life that I had never noticed before.
Since then, I have been looking out for birds on my normal walks outside with family and friends. I am now able to identify our common species and am interested to find out more. I became a novice birder!
So of course I had to get my hands on this book! What a dream, to travel the world, look for birds and meet passionate locals.
The book had a slow start. The first couple of chapters were routine and pretty boring. I knew it was boring because it was real life, I can’t expect there to be hiccups at every turn for my entertainment. It didn’t help that there were very few photos. Whenever I wanted to see the bird being described, I had to look it up myself. That was pretty demanding of me though, how could they fit photos of half of the world’s species in a small book?
I also didn’t like the way some of the chapters were written at first. I found it hard to follow when Noah would talk about events but not in chronological order. The names of people and places came hard and fast so jumping around the timeline made it difficult to keep track of where in the world Noah was.
Around the 5th or 6th chapter though, the story started to pick up. The rest of the book was amazing! I really loved the subsequent stories and the way the chapters were written. They were all more or less laid out in chronological order but with a theme to each chapter. The chapters were pensive, which I really liked. I liked the reflection that went into crafting each story. It must’ve been difficult to choose what to include from a year’s worth of memories.
I think if I were to reread the book, I would be able to appreciate the thought that went into the first few chapters. At the end of the book, I felt like I too had travelled the world, seen birds, met amazing people and changed my life forever. I would recommend this to all birders and maybe nature lovers too. If you are neither, I still think the book is worth a read for the depictions of foreign cultures that I rarely read about in other novel-like books. At the very least, read it for it’s transportive quality. Maybe you’ll be enticed to find out more about the birds in your community!
P.S. I might consider checking out his other books which are also about birds!
The Thing with Feathers — http://noahstrycker.com/books/the-thing-with-feathers/
Among Penguins — http://noahstrycker.com/books/among-penguins-2/
Noah Strycker’s website: http://noahstrycker.com/