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Blue Badge Birder

…a charming month by month account

Blue Badge Birder By Brian C George⎥ DB Publishing⎥ ISBN: 9781780910062⎥ £9.99p

Author’s Introduction: I became a Blue Badge holder a little while ago and my mobility levels were much reduced, walking 2/300 metres or so became a problem.

I have been bird watching all my life, or so it seems. Since the death of my wife three years ago, it has become almost a way of life, giving me direction once again. How was I going to obtain maximum pleasure with minimum effort?

I now had to call on all my past experience and knowledge to be channelled down what I will call the ‘Easy route’ I needed birds to come to me, which is highly unlikely, or get to them as close as possible, a car can make a good hide as long as you stay in it. I started to set up a list of locations, which fitted these criteria and used my map reading skills, such as they were, to locate others. It is amazing what you can discover by studying a Landranger map!

At many of the lectures I provide I find many disabled people attend, and many of these tell me this is about as close as they get to nature now, especially the wheelchair bound. Surely these people are not banned from the countryside because they cannot walk or walk well?

I had been wishing to write a book for years, and now a benchmark had been laid down, and my book was born. When you consider the RSPB boasts over 1,000,000 members and the Wildlife Trusts claim over 800,000 members that is nearly 2,000,000 people. I think we can safely presume over a half of these will be retired, and a good percentage of these will be disabled to some degree or other.

These people need to be told just what is available out there in the wild world, just how well many of our nature reserves cater for the disabled, many hire out wheelchairs at a nominal cost or even provide them free, I have found them useful at times. Most bird hides have ramps, and Blue Badge parking is usually available. Hopefully this book will point you in the right direction, open your eyes to a beautiful world, introduce you to many new friends who will be only to happy to share the wonders with you.

One final thought. Although this book was primarily written with the disabled in mind, as an introduction to both the subject and the places to visit, it is there for all. For the experienced it is a pleasant reminder of the wild world we love, for the novice, an introduction to a truly wonderful world, which does not cost a lot. All you need is the inclination to go out and see it.Publishers Note: Brian C George has been interested in wildlife since he was 6 and started by collecting birds eggs and butterflies. 
This interest continued until he joined the RAF where he carried out bird ringing for Cairo Museum. 
After working as a freelance journalist for several years, local radio came along in the 60’s, where Brian presented a countryside programme on BBC Radio Birmingham for 3 years. 
Next came university lecturing teaching both bird study and general wildlife subjects to adults. Now retired, Brian runs a bird study course at the Rosliston Forestry Centre. 
He is a member of the RSPB, the British Ornithologists Union, West Midland Bird Club, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and the NT, as well as a warden at Croxall Lakes Nature Reserve.Fatbirder View: I am very happy to see this publication because, as many of you will know, I too am a ‘blue badge birder’. Having taken a look I came away a bit disappointed, not for anything in the book, but by what is missing.

The book is a charming month by month account of this birder’s year and he does give detailed accounts of where he saw what. This means that some sites one can get a feel for, but not sufficiently to tell just how accessible they are. The writing is fluid (as it should be given the author’s journalistic history) and it is readable, yet does suffer, as all such accounts suffer, from the reader being a second hand observer. Birding is a wonderful participation activity, but it certainly is not a spectator sport. Football is a beautiful game to watch and to play, but birding like many of the most popular activities we indulge in during our leisure time, such as fishing or shopping, is terrific to do, but boring to watch and, sadly, it can become tedious to hear about unless there is some sense of participation, or a further element of vicarious interest. This is why many birding books are either humorous or have an element of suspense brought about by people with set goals in hunting down rarities or amassing numbers in competition with other birders. This, for me at least, make ‘Blue Badge Birding’ not a book to try and read in one or two sittings. Maybe it would be better to read each month’s account as that month dawns, especially if you haunt the same patches as Brian George.

As someone with restricted mobility I would love to have seen clearer site info so I could see if the sites are ones I could tackle. Reading between the lines I suspect that I have a shorter range than the author even on good days, if the benches are more than 150 meters apart then I wouldn’t set foot in most places as I know that, on a good walking day, I need to rest up about that often just to unlock the muscles, avoid spasms or stop some joints from giving way and pitching me to the floor. It's a missed opportunity, but there is a book in the idea - a best site guide for the UK (or some smaller segment) for those with restricted mobility… maybe Mr George could collaborate with me and others and produce such a guide!

A word in the ear of DB – this book has some sloppy editing, no big deal I guess but it can be a distraction. For example, in one sentence I noted three changes waiting to happen… one spelling mistake, one type setting error and one archaic bit of grammar here: “We were very pleased to have an hide to go into at Tillington,were we could all sit…”


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