Pittas: The Jewel Hunter.

Banded Pitta (Thailand) by Alex Vargas.

by Gunnar on February 3, 2012 · 7 comments

in Reviews

Book review: The Jewel Hunter.

Birdingblogs is doing far too few book reviews.  But then again, others make great reviews, so to keep our readers updated, another strategy could be to share exceptional reviews from others. I really like Donna Lynn Schulman’s review on 10000birds of  The Jewel Hunter (affilliate link) by Chris Goodie.
Chris quit his job and set off on a year long quest to see all 32 species of Pitta’s in a year in Tropical Asia.  He succeeded and documents his adventures in this entertaining book that has been out for about a year now.   Since we here at Birdingblogs love Pittas as seen from previous posts, we are posting an excerpt from Donna’s review here.

Donna writes:

Gooddie gets the book off to a quick start by describing his love affair with pittas (“the ultimate forest prize”), and detailing his decision to give up a good career as sales director of an audio manufacturing company (“my life was out of whack”). It isn’t till his travels get under way that we learn, chapter by chapter, about the specific difficulties of locating and viewing pittas. The endangered Gurney’s Pitta is losing habitat due to deforestation. Black-faced Pitta is found only on one of the Solomon Islands (northwest of Australia). Schneider’s Pitta was thought to be extinct for over fifty years. So little is known about Green-breasted Pitta, that he cannot get a definite location for the bird, or a recording of its display call. (He does find out that some have recently been made when he arrives in Uganda, stupendous news). I get my own idea of the lunacy of Gooddie’s quest when I talk to a friend who has birded Asia and Africa. “I’m reading a book about a man who is doing a Pitta Big Year,” I say. He stares back at me, mouth open before exploding, “That’s insaaaane.” .

Blue-headed Pitta by Susan Myers from Borneo

Blue-headed Pitta by Susan Myers from Borneo

Each chapter of The Jewel Hunter reads like a mini-travel novel. Thankfully, stories of plane travel gone wrong are minimized. There is a lot more to tell: descriptions of remote villages, delicous exotic food, unusual exotic food, going hungry, preparations for treks into isolated jungle areas (does one buy Quaker Oats or a live chicken?), how guides and drivers are found and where they live and what their families and homes look like, birder friends who accompany him on some legs of his quest, and the quirky people he ends up sharing beers with, in bars in huts on stilts. Beer looms large in Gooddie’s daily routine, and much text is devoted to finding beer in the middle of rural Asia and evaluating its quality. If you want to travel the world birding and drinking beer, The Jewel Hunter is a must-buy.

Gurneys Pitta Dale Forbes

Gurneys Pitta Dale Forbes

Read the rest of Donna’s review on 10000Birds.

As for myself, I hope to get some Pitta close encounters when I visit Philippines in 2013.  Here is a Red-bellied Pitta by Francesco Veronesi (Creative Commons Flickr) from the Philippines. Another reason to go. Join me.

Red-bellied Pitta Francesco Veronesi

Red-bellied Pitta Francesco Veronesi

Top Photo: Banded Pitta (male) from Thailand. Photo by Alex Vargas from his Birdingblogs post.

 


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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna Schulman February 4, 2012 at 4:49 am

Thank you for citing my review.  And for pointing me to Alex Vargas’s post on Banded Pittas, what amazing photographs!  Susan, Dale’s and Francesco’s aren’t bad either.
One minor correction, my name is Donna Lynn Schulman.  (This way my dad can Google my name and find your blog.)
I hope you get your Pittas next year!

Reply

Gunnar Engblom February 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Corrected now Donna. Sorry for the lapsus. Thanks for your excellent review again!

Reply

Donna Schulman February 4, 2012 at 4:49 am

Thank you for citing my review.  And for pointing me to Alex Vargas’s post on Banded Pittas, what amazing photographs!  Susan, Dale’s and Francesco’s aren’t bad either.
One minor correction, my name is Donna Lynn Schulman.  (This way my dad can Google my name and find your blog.)
I hope you get your Pittas next year!

Reply

Don Gato February 4, 2012 at 6:52 am

Thanks Gunnar for using my image and thanks Donna… glad you like it.

As for the trip to the Philippines, I got more plans and hopes for 2013 than time, money and wife’s permissions… but surely sounds tempting… 😉

Great review!… You can find images of a couple of my Pittas in Chris’ website and I’m honored by it!

Hey, yesterday I had a surreal moment with male and female Rusty-naped Pitta (one of the most desired and seldom seen of the group) in one frame!!!…. I’ll share it later…

Cheers!

Reply

Birdernaturalist February 5, 2012 at 1:50 am

Sounds like a great review. Thanks for alerting us to it, Alex. And now I definitely want to see pittas. That Banded Pitta is unreal.

Reply

Jessica Pellien February 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm

For U.S. Readers — Princeton University Press will publish an edition of The Jewel Hunter later this year. 

Reply

Gunnar Engblom February 6, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Good news. I was surprised that it was not on Amazon.com in the US, thinking that maybe it already sold out and was out of print. Enviado desde mi BlackBerry de Movistar

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