In many ways, he was preaching to the converted as far as I was concerned. Despite birds being part of my job, I'm pretty hopeless at identifying them, but I could watch any bird for ages. I'm the kind of person who walks into lamp posts because my attention is suddenly caught by a bird in a tree. In fact, this passage from the book sounded terribly familiar to me:
He has some lovely passages about the glory of birds, but the book is also a rather touching portrait of his relationship with his father, who originally inspired his interest in birdwatching. They have (or had) a slightly awkward relationship, it seems, but their shared love of birds gave them something in common, something to talk about.
Just this morning I was standing at the bus stop in the gloomy pre-dawn light, and marvelling at the contributors to the dawn chorus gamely trying to make themselves heard over the roar of the traffic. At this time of year, they're particularly welcome as heralds of the coming Spring. Now, I know that what they're really doing is yelling at their male neighbours to get the hell off their territory (or else), and trying to impress the females, but what I hear is: "Welcome back, Persephone. How was the Underworld? Been a bit nippy while you've been away."