Peacocks & Picathartes. Reflections on Africa's Birdlife, by Rupert Watson
Both informative and entertaining, Peacocks & Picathartes. Reflections on Africa's Birdlife by Rupert Watson, captures the essence of African birdlife, and will appeal to bird enthusiasts across the spectrum.
Birds have loomed large in my life ever since my father infused me with his own lifelong interest during my schooldays. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that this contributed significantly to my searching for work in East Africa shortly after I qualified as a lawyer in England. The search was successful and I have called Kenya my home for the last 40 years, during which birds have taken up an ever larger part of my spare time, to such an extent that I increasingly find myself foregoing the fishing rod in favour of the binoculars. As well as being a lawyer, I trained as a mediator and my work in teaching or practising mediation and conflict prevention has taken me to many different parts of Africa. I am self-employed, so I have almost always managed to find some post-assignment time to visit the wilder parts of any country where I was working. Doing so has contributed much to my gaining a broader perspective of the continent's birdlife, as have travels to southern Africa in the course of researching baobab trees for an earlier publication. Peacocks & Picathartes-Reflections on Africa's Birdlife is intended as a celebration of the diversity of African birds, especially those peculiar to this continent. I have focused on families with Tittle or no representation anywhere else and whose members are essentially only encountered here, and have also stretched this remit to include families, like sandgrouse and honeyguides, which are mainly, but not exclusively African. Finally, I have shamelessly indulged myself by covering six individual species, with close relatives on other continents, each of which seems, in its own way, to embody something of Africa.
I have written this book at my own comfort level. I have relied on terms such as 'close relatives7 but also feel easy using the word 'congener', which is more specific in that it means 'within the same genus'. Elsewhere I may appear to eschew scientific terminology unnecessarily, using six words where one would do and for so doing I offer no apology. I am more at ease describing an evolutionary event as happening'three million years ago'than'at the start of the Pleistocene epoch', principally because I would have to look up'Pleistocene'and so assume a lot of others would need to do the same. I do actually know what 'sympatric' means but I still prefer to say that two species both occur in the same particular area, and if I use a fairly technical word like 'allopreening' or 'pamprodactylous' I also define it in the text. All this said, I hope that bird enthusiasts who have no idea what either 'sympatric' or 'allopreening' means will find the text informative and entertaining, and that those for whom the words are part of their everyday vocabulary will enjoy it too. It will become apparent that the studies of families or species are a combination of history, science and personal experience, and, as such, my further hope is that they will have broad appeal. Some readers may find that I stray too far from the basics of the bird, and would rather not read about the tragedy of the Bateleur's illustrations in Roberts Birds of Southern Africa or whether birds can count, but sometimes I find a story so fascinating, or a quote so bizarre that I feel it just has to be shared. [...]
This is an excerpt from Peacocks & Picathartes. Reflections on Africa's Birdlife, by Rupert Watson.
Title: Peacocks & Picathartes
Subtitle: Reflections on Africa's Birdlife
Author: Rupert Watson
Publisher: Penguin Random House South Africa
Imprint: Struik Nature
Cape Town, South Africa 2020
ISBN 9781775845607 / ISBN 978-1-77-584560-7
Softcover, 15 x 23 cm, 216 pages, numerous drawings
Watson, Rupert im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Peacocks & Picathartes. Reflections on Africa's Birdlife
Peacocks & Picathartes-Reflections on Africa's Birdlife is a celebration of the diversity of African birds.
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