Birding From The Hip

By Anthony McGeehan and The Sound Approach

The Sound Approach 2009

Hbk, 208pp, many colour photographs, 2CDs

ISBN 978-90-810933-3-0


I must confess before we get going that I just love the Northern Irish accent, granted in some people it can be a weapon of mass destruction but 99.9% of the population posses a magical soothing lilt that is just perfect for the spoken word.

Birding From The Hip has been around for a very long time, the first Birdwatch Magazine I bought, January 1993 seeing as you ask, had Anthony’s column as an establish part of the content. I read and re-read Anthony’s exploits and they often touched a nerve, sometimes they made me squirm with familiarity but they always made me laugh out loud.

What of the book? It is a collection of some of Anthony’s great columns including a few early ones I’d never read as well as some writing for Dutch Birding and some new chapters that never made the magazine. All these are illustrated with some stunning photographs and some shots from the original series.

On their own these would have made me want the book but as befits the Sound Approach you also get 2 Compact Discs. These 2CDs contain Anthony reading his columns in that distinctive lilting Ulster brogue add to that some haunting and evocative sound recordings of birds, the Great Northern Diver is wonderful and the bugling Cranes are magical but the award surely goes to the Lapwings recorded on Tory Island – breathtaking.

One of the things I did like most about the column though was when Anthony didn’t write them and his long-suffering wife, Mairead, took up the challenge. Mairead’s insights into the scheming, immature brain of a birder are bang on. Here her anger, vitriol and love come shining through as she narrates four of the stories. I should warn buyers though, you don’t want your partner even reading or hearing them. Your secret will be out.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough, like all the Sound Approach books and CDs you can easily lose a few hours. Birding From The Hip would be perfect for your Christmas stocking. The CDs are already on my iPod and iPhone and I must have listened to it five times in three days, I listened to it as I walked to the pub and it’s always on in the car. Be warned though – listening to it in public might well get you some funny looks as it is laugh out loud at times.


4 responses to “Birding From The Hip

  1. Great stuff! I am a big fan of the Sound Approach too and had been hoping for another publication this autumn at the bf. There is apparently a book about Poole Harbour coming soon and they are also working on one on owls too (WP I think) – can you imagine how good the CD accompanying that one will be? Br, Mike

  2. thedrunkbirder

    I know for sure there is a book about Patch Watching based around Poole Harbour coming out soon but I hadn’t heard about the Owls… that would be superb!

  3. Nice review but it may interest readers to know the articles allegedly by ‘Mrs McGeehan’ are written by Mr McGeehan (one giveaway is the byline – a woman would use her full name. Only a man would refer to his other half as ‘the wife’ or ‘Mrs’!). This may mean Anthony has a great sense of self-deprecation. Or it could just be creepy? You decide!

  4. thedrunkbirder

    Hi Sam, not sure where that rumour came from but I just can’t see it and anyway why would Mrs McGeehan narrate ‘her’ sections on the CDs. To be fair I don’t really think it matters who wrote them other than they are comic genius.

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