Behind the Binoculars - Pelagic Publishing

Behind the Binoculars

Interviews with acclaimed birdwatchers

  • Interviews with some well-known personalities, including Chris Packham, Stephen Moss and Ian Wallace.
  • Bestselling wildlife author of books including: Message to Martha (Bloomsbury 2014), Fighting for Birds (Pelagic Publishing 2012) and Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands (Bloomsbury 2015).
    We currently have 9940 in stock.

    • The passion of each voice in the book permeates the air.
      —Ceri Levy, Caught by the River
    • birdwatcher
    • birdwatching
    • natural history
    • ornithologist
    • ornithology
    • popular wildlife


    How and why did our most acclaimed birdwatchers take up birding? What were their early experiences of nature? How have their professional birding careers developed? What motivates them and drives their passion for wildlife? How many birds have they seen?

    Mark Avery and Keith Betton, passionate birdwatchers and conservationists, interview members of the birdwatching community to answer these and many other questions about the lives of famous birdwatchers. They take you behind the scenes, and behind the binoculars, of a diverse range of birding and wildlife personalities.

    Behind the Binoculars includes interviews with: Chris Packham, Phil Hollom, Stuart Winter, Lee Evans, Steve Gantlett, Mark Cocker, Ian Wallace, Andy Clements, Mike Clarke, Debbie Pain, Keith Betton, Roger Riddington, Ian Newton, Stephanie Tyler, Mark Avery, Stephen Moss, Alan Davies and Ruth Miller, Rebecca Nason and Robert Gillmor.


    Birdwatchers, conservationists, ecologists, wildlife enthusiasts

    Table of Contents

    Chris Packham
    Phil Hollom
    Stuart Winter
    Lee Evans
    Steve Gantlett
    Mark Cocker
    Ian Wallace
    Andy Clements
    Mike Clarke
    Debbie Pain
    Keith Betton
    Roger Riddington
    Ian Newton
    Stephanie Tyler
    Mark Avery
    Stephen Moss
    Alan Davies and Ruth Miller
    Rebecca Nason
    Robert Gillmor
    Last thoughts
    Selected bibliography


    • Although each interview begins from the same set of questions, Avery and Betton do a great job of following up on each person’s interests, making each piece a highly individual profile, and they also get to the heart of what made each one a birdwatcher – not just the initial spark, but the ongoing passions. I thought I knew a few of the interviewees reasonably well, but I was wrong! —Matt Merritt, Birdwatching Magazine
    • The interviewees have different ideas about how the future of birding will develop, but all apparently expect that human fascination with birds will be undiminished. Behind the Binoculars is a thoroughly charming celebration and affirmation of that fascination. —Nigel Hopper, IBIS
    • Wildlife campaigner Mark Avery and birdwatcher Keith Betton have captured 20 stories (including their own) from British luminaries such as wagtail expert Stephanie Tyler and birder extraordinaire Lee Evans. This is both a serious overview of the field and a flock of delights, from the shot of a youthful Betton with three young song thrushes balancing on his forearm to fond memories of first binoculars, whether Leica Ultravids or Swarovskis. —Barbara Kiser, Nature
    • The real common thread, however, is a love of birds and a determination to make a life devoted in some way to their enjoyment, study or conservation. All the interviewees have found the same early fascination but have then moulded it according to their talents, circumstances and opportunities to make a genuine and lasting contribution. Birds, it would seem, can take you anywhere. —Andy Stoddart, Rare Bird Alert
    • The variety of personalities interviewed in this book demonstrates nicely that there are many different kinds of birdwatcher, each engaging with our birds in a different way - and so there’s bound to be something that chimes with anyone reading it. I was fascinated by what initially sparked each person's interest in birds and lit a fire that lasted a lifetime - it seemed to me that in all cases they were young and, like us all at that age, had very dry tinder! —Debbie Todd, BTO About Birds
    • The passion of each voice in the book permeates the air. The joy of the initial discovery of birds for each subject is a wonder to read and every contributor has a point to make about the welfare of our birds or the state of conservation or the pleasure and passion derived from being in, and therefore a part of, nature. Conservation often takes the fiery enthusiasm out of its arguments and cold scientific statements about the state of the world can leave a non-conservationist audience unmoved. This passionate book does more for conservation in one reading than many dry academic papers on the dangers that surround our birds today; for passion energises a reader, passion makes us want to engage, passion makes us desire and want to bring about change. Those in positions of conservation power, some of whom are sharing their own passion within this very book, should read this book and feel the buzz that is created by the unbridled joy of connection with nature. Harness this and then offer people a cause to support and work with and we can change the grim picture that is the state of our world’s bird life. —Ceri Levy, Caught by the River
    • For me this was a nostalgic book. I related closely to many of the stories, particularly by the older people. It was a fun book to read and should appeal to all avid birdwatchers. So take it to the cottage and curl up by the fire when the rain is heavy and enjoy. —Roy John, Canadian Field-Naturalist
    • Sceptical at first with the concept of these books, I was won over after reading the first few interviews. There is an essential honesty at work here – one that binds together these different generations of people. Overall we get a gentle insight into some of the birding characters we may have occasionally met or heard in the media or in person, across this small world of devotees. These two volumes are a bit of a field guide themselves. —Barry Larking, ECOS

    About the Author

    Dr Mark Avery is a blogger, writer, author and wildlife campaigner. He once, many moons ago, worked for the RSPB (and for 13 years was its Conservation Director). He has been prominent in the discussions over the future of driven grouse shooting in the UK – Mark hopes that their future is very limited. He lives in rural Northamptonshire and misses most of the good birds at his local patch of Stanwick Lakes in the Nene Valley.

    Keith Betton is a media trainer, PR consultant and writer. He is a keen world birder having seen over 7500 species in nearly 100 countries. He has a particular passion for Africa, having been Chairman of the African Bird Club for the last 7 years. In the UK he is heavily involved in bird monitoring in Hampshire, where he is County Recorder. He has been a Council Member of both the RSPB and the BTO, and is currently Vice President of the latter.

    Bibliographic Information

    • 290 pages
    • 18 colour plates
    • BISAC NAT004000, SCI070040, NAT043000, NAT037000, NAT011000