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Mark Obmascik

The Big Year

Some people can get pretty obsessive about their hobbies, but there can be few who compare with the three birdwatchers described by Mark Obmascik in The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession

The 'Big Year' is an attempt to see as many species as possible in the North American continent within a calendar year. In 1998 three birdwatchers decided to go for it. Sandy Komito, the holder of the record, businessman Al Levantin, and computer programmer Greg Miller. Obmascik tells the history of the Big Year - how the challenge of seeing all 675 native bird species was surpassed and it became a case of seeking out rarities. This might mean flying across the continent at a moments notice, so it's not a cheap enterprise, and Miller had to struggle to earn (and borrow) enough to keep up. We hear of how the each of the three men eventually realised that they weren't the only one going for it, and the competition that ensued. But there could only be one winner, setting a record that is unlikely to be beaten - not only was 1998 a bumper year due to birds being blown off course, but many of the birds were seen on the island of Attu, which is now off limits.

It's a well written book, and whether you're into birdwatching or not I think that you'll enjoy reading about the challenge of becoming number one.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews