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The hippie trail--a gentle, hallucinogen-powered bus-bound trundle through western Asia from Istanbul to Kathmandu--came into being in the early 1970s. Back then this was an intrepid trip into the almost completely unknown, through places that are largely off-limits to travelers today, such as Iran and Afghanistan, that broadened already-mellowed minds to a backdrop of The Who, Jethro Tull, and Pink Floyd.
The birds of this region were similarly largely unknown, but all this was to change following an epic trip in 1978 by a band of birding hippies, which heralded the beginning of large-scale bird trips to Asia and beyond. Nigel Redman, a young, bored accountant with a lifelong passion for birds, decided to head off on this adventure to birding nirvana.
Magic Bustard is the story of that ground-breaking trip, comparing the habitats, people, places and birds of the 1970s with current observations as Nigel revisits old haunts along the trail. Part-travelogue, part-memoir, the book delivers a commentary on the changes that have been wrought on the region and its birds in the 40 years since that first trip, with bizarre ground jays, sensational sandgrouse, bounteous buntings, and yes, even a magic bustard or two on the way.
Of appeal to birders, hippies, ex-hippies, and people who enjoy a good yarn, Magic Bustard is both an enjoyable testament to the awakening of the possibilities of travel in the postwar era, and a fun travelogue packed with drugs and casual sex.