The Birder's Guide to Africa - Author: Michael Mills
A magic carpet ride for the armchair bird watcher and traveller wishing to discover the continent of Africa
“It’s a dream book as well as a guide book. Never have I looked at a map of the continent more longingly than when I have been reading Michael’s pages. Don't go anywhere in Africa without it.” Tim Dee, author of Greenery, The Running Sky, Landfill and other books.
If you are currently not able to travel or in some way incapacitated here is a book that will lift you off the bed, the couch or the armchair and carry you deep into the African jungle, bushveld and savannah, alive with exotic birds and stunning sights, sounds and the unique smell of Africa. And if you’ve always wanted to visit Africa to see its birdlife but have not known where to begin, this book will be your guide, your friend and your most reliable companion. It offers Africa in a way not seen before.
Author Michael Mills is an ornithologist of repute, whose two books ‘The Birder's Guide to Africa’ and ‘The Special Birds of Angola’ have been very well received by the twitching community and are set now to make great inroads to those whose travels are motivated in part by bird watching.
For most western travellers Africa remains ‘terra incognita’, an unknown world. Now with ‘The Birder’s Guide to Africa’ tucked into your case all of the continent’s 54 countries are revealed. Everyone from the rucksack traveller to those on luxury safaris are catered for. The book is truly a passport to birding in Africa.
BBC radio producer and ornithologist, Tim Dee, author of Grenery, The Running Sky, Landfill and other books, offers this praise for the Michael Mills books: “Very few people have seen as many birds in Africa as Michael Mills has. Fewer still have eyes and ears as sharp as his.
Even fewer know where to go in the great continent, and when and how to, in order to encounter its avian riches.
Here they all are: shoebills and helmetshrikes; picathartes and illadopsis, Zino’s Petrel and Archer’s Lark, mousebirds and crocodile-birds, Cape Rockjumpers and Algerian Nuthatches… sought after rarities, abundant flocks, charismatic birds and cryptic birds, mysterious puzzles and signature species, the incredible array of Africa’s avifauna.
There have been books on where to watch birds in Africa before, but none have come close to this encyclopaedic account. Its scale matches the diversity of the birdlife in question. It is a frankly astonishing labour, the distillation of a lifetime of looking and listening across the continent, of decades of accumulated knowledge, and it is wonderfully generous in sharing what it knows in order to help to connect birders with the birds they might want to see. No one need feel unprepared when birding in Africa ever again.
I cannot imagine a better wish list. It’s a dream book as well as a guide book. Never have I looked at a map of the continent more longingly than when I have been reading Michael’s pages. Don't go anywhere in Africa without it.”
Nigel Redman, past commissioning editor at Bloomsbury for bird books, comments: “If you want to see all of Africa's birds, this is the book you need. This book will tell you where to see any bird in Africa, with key information on every country, family and species. This is surely the African bird lister's bible; it is essential reading when planning any trip to Africa.”
The stunning book is available through book stores in the USA (Buteo Books), Spain, Sweden and Holland, and others, NHBS are distributing throughout Europe. The books are beautifully illustrated with photographs (mostly by Tasso Leventis) and general travel information for each country.
Launched originally at the British Birdwatching Fair in 2017, the book is available in the UK through Natural History Book Store and Wild Sounds.
The books have both become collector’s pieces among the birding community and are now being re-issued to a wider world.
Author Michael Mills says: “I wrote the books with the birder in mind, a group of physically active hardcore enthusiasts, and to showcase Africa’s incredible bird diversity. But I know from personal experience there are times when you either can’t get away from work or home because of commitments and the books provide an outlet into the African world for times like that. Under the current pandemic lockdown and travel restrictions here ‘The Birder’s Guide to Africa’ will provide 'virus free armchair travel' for birders keen to get to know Africa up front and personal. The birds of course speak for themselves. In my view there is nowhere else on earth that offers the birder and traveller what Africa can. And this vast continent is not yet overrun by tourism. Go now, you won’t regret it!”
"[...] This is an essential reference for anyone who takes birding trips to Africa and needs useful information presented clearly. The amount of work that has gone into it is clearly immense and it will undoubtedly save travelling birders a lot of time searching for information." Keith Betton, Bulletin of the African Bird Club 25(1), March 2018
"[...] In summary, it is an inspiring and high-quality compendium of information that looks hard to beat as a celebration of the amazing birds of this fascinating continent. Highly recommended." Andy Musgrove, BTO book reviews
"In this new book, Michael Mills has gone for a different approach to the traditional where-to-watch guide, putting finding the birds before finding the country. This is achieved in three main sections: Country Accounts, Family Accounts and Species Accounts, taking respectively 108, 150 and 244 pages, so the clear emphasis is on the birds themselves. [...] There is a huge amount of information in this book which will be of great use to people planning birding trips to Africa, and I would not be surprised if its somewhat unusual approach does not serve as a template for guides to other parts of the world." Martin Woodcock, BirdGuides
“It’s not often that a bird book comes out that breaks the mould, but this is one such publication. Mike Mills spent three years distilling his vast experience of birding across Africa into a novel hybrid between a trip planner, Lonely Planet guide and an annotated checklist. It contains everything you need to know (and more) if you are contemplating an African birding trip. […] This is an essential book for African birders and armchair travellers. I’m confident it will achieve its overarching goal of promoting birding in Africa and thus help to conserve African birds and their habitats.”
Prof Peter Ryan, Director of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute for Africa Ornithology at the University of Cape Town, African BirdLife January/February 2018
‘The Special Birds of Angola’
The ‘Special Birds of Angola’ is Michael’s second book and focusses on the 70 most unique and beautiful birds of one of Africa’s top emerging tourism destinations, Angola. The bilingual texts (English and Portuguese) flow side by side and species are illustrated with fantastic photographs. Introductory sections given an overview of Angola and its biodiversity. For any interested in or wanting to travel to Angola, this is a must-have publication. It is currently available from NHBS in the UK and directly from the author (firstname.lastname@example.org) in South Africa, and will soon be available from most bookstores in South Africa.
" If you needed an excuse to visit Angola, then look no further. […] an impressive amount of information has been summarised in the short accounts. […] Considering how little known Angola is compared to other countries, and how scarce or localised some of these birds are, the author has done a magnificent job in assembling such a wealth of images. Now we can see what these special Angolan birds actually look like. If you are going to Angola and are serious about seeing the key birds there, then this book is essential reading. Even if you are not, it’s worth having for the photos of some very little-known birds." Nigel Redman, Bulletin of the African Bird Club 27(1), March 2020