The Birdwatcher

Subject: The Birdwatcher
From: Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge <>
Date: Sat, 28 Dec 2013 16:44:31 +1000
Just before Christmas I borrowed the new novel, by William McInnes entitled The Birdwatcher from our local library. Now William McInnes is a finet actor and I am sure his previous books, mainly autobiographical, have been excellent. However, his latest novel 'The Birdwatcher" has left me quite puzzled. He has obviously done a lot of research and many of his ornithological observations are correct, but I am left wondering if he is just having a go at the birdwatching fraternity or what?.

The plot moves from Melbourne to Cairns and north to the Daintree area and the geography becomes extremely confusing as if William visited the area about 20 years ago and is relying on his memory and getting it dreadfully wrong. He also keeps referring to 'The Escarpment' -- maybe he thinks he's in Kakadu! The bird that causes the main character, David Thomas from Melbourne (as he is referred to), to use the last of his savings to fly north, is a delightfully named Pale Pygmy Magpie Goose or PPMG. This amazing bird migrates from PNG and is very rarely seen, but has the interesting ability to sing! I have no problem with inventing such an imaginative bird for the purpose of the novel, but when it refers to the closely related Cotton Pygmy Goose being on the tidal flats, it starts to get a bit unreal to say the least.

Also, staring out to sea from the beach David observes 'gannets or are they boobies' -- not unless his eyesight can see beyond the reef! It is winter, but somehow there are waders galore on the beaches and then he decides to go and look for a Rainbow Pitta -- maybe on the Kakadu Escarpment otherwise he'd just have to be content with a plain old Noisy Pitta north of Cairns! Masked Owls seem to have replaced Barn Owls as the common species and what is an 'Australasian Harrier (?) doing feeding on road-kill at night? Oh, and a spoonbill spearing fish! I could go on. It seems such a shame to ruin an otherwise readable tale by not getting his facts right. Does anyone know if William is actually a birdwatcher?



    Keith & Lindsay Fisher
    Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge
    RN 6 Mt. Kooyong Road
    Julatten QLD 4871
    Ph : (07) 4094 1263
    Web Site:

Winner: Wet Tropics 2010 Cassowary Award for Nature Based Tourism

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