The Birdwatcher

To: "'Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge'" <>, <>
Subject: The Birdwatcher
From: Stephen Murray <>
Date: Sat, 28 Dec 2013 19:31:06 +1000
Hi Lindsay.
 I was wondering if any other birders got that for Christmas. I read it out
of politeness and picked up on many of the things you mentioned. A "mob of
Common Sandpipers" was an interesting sighting as well. As I said to my
wife...he has done a bit of research on birdwatching, but not quite enough.
I think novelists need to get things right if they are going to write about
something with which they are not familiar. Otherwise they just look silly.
I guess I wouldn't mind so much if the book had some merit in other
departments, but it doesn't. The ending was extremely corny but I won't
expound in case someone else found it in their stocking.
Steve Murray

-----Original Message-----
From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf Of
Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge
Sent: Saturday, 28 December 2013 4:45 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 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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