Britains Birds An Identification Guide To The Birds Of Great Britain And Ireland

Now you may have seen this book before but wait, this is a new fully revised edition! The first edition was a wonderful concept to have a really comprehensive photo identification guide to Britain’s birds. Now we have a second edition – improved and thoroughly updated. In case you are new to this book here are some personal thoughts.

People do often ask which do you prefer photo guides or illustrated bird books and the answer in the past has always been illustrated field guides simply because there were not enough good quality photos of enough of the species for the photo book to be comprehensive. But the massive explosion of digital photography now means that there are a lot more photos to choose from. Of course you can’t just put any photo into an identification guide it has to be helpful to the reader to decide which species of bird he/she has seen. So still no easy task!

Whereas a skilled bird illustrator can produce a painting of a bird in a pose that shows the very features that distinguish that species. When you read the list of authors perhaps it is not so surprise that such an amazing collection of images has been possible to assemble, Rob Hume, Robert Still, Andy Swash, Hugh Harrop and David Tipling all renowned in the world of birds. So has the time come to change my mind about the photographic field guide to birds? Well let’s have a look at this new edition of Britain’s Birds and make up my mind…

The first thing that strikes you is the weight of this book it is heavy very heavy, too heavy to carry around very far for sure. So not a pocket book by any means but then it does cover every species recorded that is a staggering 631 species! No way could this comprehensive list of birds be covered in a lightweight portable pocket book. So low score for portability but very high score for number of species covered you will not be caught out with a “missing” species which is so often the case with pocket guides, I know I have had this problem in the past!

The next thing that struck me about the book was the quality it feels really well printed, quality paper and those 576 pages are securely bound, just as well! But in my opinion that is very important if the guide is to be used often, as any good field guide should be, you don’t want it falling apart after a bit of use. Looking at my overloaded book shelves I can see a few field guides that are showing a lot of wear despite only being used on a two week trip. This book has the feel of bird guide that is here for the long haul.

But of course the big question is are the photographs up to the job of helping the reader identify a bird they have seen? The majority of species have four to six photographs of each species, more images than most illustrated guides and the photographs have been very well chosen indeed. Not only have the authors amassed a vast reference collection here but have managed to source pictures that actually show the key identification points an amazing feat!

So let’s take a closer look at some of those species that can prove tricky when setting off into birdwatching that can lead to frustration and even mean folks give up – such a shame if that happens. Chiffchaff is one of those for sure, a widespread species, can be seen throughout the year but a first look in the field guide sees a host of rather similar species to boggle the mind of the inexperienced! The photos selected are very useful indeed really showing the structure of this small delicate warbler and the text neatly sets out what the observer really needs to know, great job and I think most people would identify their Chiffchaff using these pages.

Dunlin that small variable wader than can turn up at any waterside and look amazingly different to the last Dunlin you saw! Another minefield for the beginner and one that could well see the binoculars joining the Dunlin in the mud! But don’t despair this book set out clearly what to look for and which are the really important features. Once you have really learned Dunlin identification in all their guises you will be very well prepared to tackle other tricky waders as you will have a base line for comparison.

Another wader that many birdwatchers struggle with is the Ruff, including some pretty experienced folks too! We have seen Ruff identified as so many different species and it is easy to see why when you look at the images here in the book. They are just so variable in colour and even size making this wader a potential head ache. But again once learnt they are really useful as a base line to compare other species too. As you can see there is plenty of help in the pages here to help you get through a Ruff patch!

So this book does what it set out to do – help you identify Britain’s Birds using high quality photographs. We highly recommend this wonderful second edition of Britain’s Birds you won’t be disappointed! Here is the information about this second edition…

A new, improved and thoroughly updated edition of the bestselling photographic guide-the only one to cover every bird, in every plumage, ever recorded in Britain and Ireland

A bestselling guide since it was first published, Britain's Birds has quickly established itself as the go-to photographic identification guide to the birds of Great Britain and Ireland-the most comprehensive, up-to-date, practical and user-friendly book of its kind. Acclaimed by birdwatchers of all kinds, from the beginner to the most experienced, the guide has now been thoroughly revised and updated to make it even better than before. Combining the finest of identification guide content and presentation, this eagerly awaited second edition preserves the best of the first edition while covering twelve newly recorded species and offering a host of improvements that make identification easier.

Provides comprehensive coverage of all the birds ever recorded in Britain and Ireland. Describes and illustrates all plumages likely to be encountered. Features more than 3,200 stunning photographs carefully selected to show the birds as you really see them. Outlines simple steps to help you identify any bird you see. Presents simple and accurate comparisons of similar and difficult species.

New features include: Coverage of 12 new species recorded since the first edition plus revisions to reflect the latest taxonomy Coverage of all subspecies Improved identification aids, including more than 400 new photos, enhanced photo annotations and many redesigned plates Fully revised species accounts, including the latest information on identification features, status, numbers, geographical range and date ranges for all plumages that may be seen during only part of the year

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 9780691199795

Number of pages: 576

Dimensions: 210 x 149 mm

Edition: 2nd Revised edition

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