The Birdwatcher

To: Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge <>, "" <>
Subject: The Birdwatcher
From: Tim Dolby <>
Date: Sat, 28 Dec 2013 07:16:02 +0000
Hi Keith,

His wife, Sarah Watt, was the birdwatcher. Unfortunately she died in 2011. The 
book's a bit of a homage to her, so I don't think he's having a go. Although 
he's interested in birds, his interest is very causal. When asked what his 
favorite bird was, he nominated seagull. There's an excellent interview by 
Michael Cathcart on ABC RN about the book:



From: Birding-Aus  on behalf of Kingfisher 
Park Birdwatchers Lodge 
Sent: Saturday, December 28, 2013 5:44 PM
Subject: The Birdwatcher

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



     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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