378 pages, B/w illus
Alex Horne's dad has always been a 'twitcher' - a birdwatcher, constantly on the look-out for his next bird sighting. Alex wasn't so sure. But, determined to get to know his father better, Alex challenged him to a competitive Big Year: from January 1st to December 31st 2006, they would each attempt to see as many species of bird as possible, governed by the basic rules of birdwatching, plus a couple of their own: the birds had to be wild, free and alive; they had to actually see the birds; and they could travel anywhere in the world to do it. The one who saw the most birds over the course of 365 days would be declared the winner. Along the way, Alex would try to finally understand why his dad did what he did, and perhaps even 'get into' birdwatching himself.
Following their year-long quest from Alex's first bird sighting at home to birding breaks in Romania, a stag-weekend spent twitching in Wales and a penguin-spotting trip to South Africa, this is the charming story of a father and son, of manliness, obsessive behaviour, families and friendship. It's the story of birdwatching told from the outsider's point of view, celebrating the eccentricities of two very different species.
"Enjoyable and entertaining" - Stephen Moss, The Guardian
"As Horne himself realises at the end of the competition, it's not about who won or lost, but the joy of taking part." - Stephen Moss, The Guardian
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Alex Horne is a stand-up comedian. He won the Chortle Award for 'Best Breakthrough Act' in 2004 and in 2003 he was nominated for the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His show 'Birdwatching' appeared at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe and his follow-up 'Wordwatching' appeared at the festival in 2008. He has written and performed with Craig Charles on ITV and Steve Coogan's Baby Cow Productions for BBC3.