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Turaco Country

Discussion in 'TV, Movies, Books about Zoos & Wildlife' started by Hix, 16 Jan 2016.

  1. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    Published only last September, when I saw Turaco Country: Reminiscences of East African Birding advertised in one of NHBS' emails I knew I had to have it, despite the hefty price. As many of you know, I recently visited East Africa twice to go mammal and birdwatching, and this book is all about wildlife watching in East Africa from 1961 to 1992. The book arrived in the mail today.

    I first heard the name Dale A. Zimmerman in 1986 when I travelled to New Guinea for a few weeks. The only field guide available had him as a co-author & illustrator (along with Bruce Beehler and Thane Pratt). I later found him as lead author for "Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania". And now he's written a book about his experiences in that part of the world.

    In the preface of Turaco Country we learn that Zimmerman suffered a heart attack a few years ago which restricted his activities, meaning he couldn't go out birding, and no foreign travel permitted. So he decided to write a book about his times in Africa, something he had been planning on doing for a long time but never got around to starting.

    Zimmerman was born in 1928 and first visited Kenya in 1961 after the violence of the Maumau had been extinguished and it became 'safe' again for white people. He reports on his visits over the subsequent years, the research work he did, the people he met, what he saw and where he went with clarity, mainly because he made notes in his journal the whole time (and he still has them for reference). And the text is copiously illustrated with photographs (and I mean copiously! - see below), usually depicting a bird, animal, person or place mentioned in the accompanying text. I should also stress that while birds are the focus, he also reminisces about the mammals, butterflies and flora of the region, too, and these are also well-illustrated.

    Unfortunately, I haven't had time to read more than the first chapter (40 pages), but it is well written and the text flows well. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book but it might take a while because it is such a hefty tome.

    Unlike other memoir-type books in this style, Turaco Country is a big book - including the index it is 783 pages in length. And we're not talking about a small handbook or paperback-size publication; this book only comes in hardback and it's A4-sized. To put this into perspective - it's the same thickness as a volume of Lynx Edicions Handbook of the Birds of the World, with almost as many pages.

    But it's not all text, as I said above there are lots of photos - 937 of them - some taking up a whole page. Excellent photos taken mostly by Zimmerman and his late wife, with a few others from friends where needed.

    A large book like this is expensive - NHBS sell it for £78, (which is around AUD$160) and Amazon have it for $82.50 USD. But it is not a book you can read quickly - I'll probably be at it for weeks - but as the memoirs of one of the world's more respected ornithologists who did pioneering fieldwork in this part of the world (particularly the Kakamega Forest), I consider it money very well-spent.

    [​IMG]
    Turaco Country: Reminiscences of East African Birding: Dale A Zimmerman, Narca Moore-Craig: NHBS

    :p

    Hix
     
  2. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    Thanks, I might be tempted to buy this book at some stage, as I will be spending half a year in those countries this year... It sounds very interesting, though a bit too big maybe...

    For now I still have enough other interesting reads on Africa....
     
  3. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    Maybe buy it now and read it before going? That way you don't have to take it with you.

    :p

    Hix