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Book Review: An Identification Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland

Book Review: An Identification Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland

Book Details:
Title: An Identification Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland
Authors: Hume, Still, Swash, Harrop, and Tipling
ISBN-13: 978-0691199795
Price: £19.99 R.R.P.

This book has so many additional features to assist and inform even the more experienced birder. I own many bird guides from different decades and what stands out to me in this publication is the exacting and categorical nature of the high definition photographs of all the British birds. What this means is that there are no more stylised and artistically interpretative drawings which are subject to wide colour variation and printing extremes, which may lead to confusion. Instead, this publication positively pops with rich imagery with the additional care taken to warn you about similar looking species by way of the 'Rare beware' icon. If you've ever struggled distinguishing your, 'little brown jobs' such as the Willow Warbler from the Iberian Chiffchaff, or a Lesser Kestrel from a Kestrel or a Buzzard from a Honey Buzzard, this book will help you determine key facts and distinctive features otherwise potentially overlooked.

Other specifics addressed are the subtle and valuable details within the primary feather differences between gull species, the tail feathers between Eastern and Western sub-alpine Warblers and wing and tail patterns between the Snipe and Great Snipe. This hard-earned knowledge is presented clearly and precisely and perhaps most important, memorably. I cannot imagine how many man hours have been invested into this precious catalogue.

It also informs you of birds which are known to have escaped from captivity and are now part of our skies including specific falcons and the Eagle Owl. You may find yourself wallowing in the sumptuous detailed images of the Eagles in flight section and comparing it with the Buzzards in flight, for example. The images include multiple shots of male, female and juvenile species but also in flight and from the viewer's most likely perspective; from below for Eagles and above for Gulls. Images are fully informative of the whole bird for pale and dark phases of comparative species, such as both the Arctic and the Pomarine Skua.

At last there is an exciting and field friendly guide which is comprehensive, portable, accurate and dependable. It fits in my coat pocket and so is not relegated to the car door for storage. Additionally, if you are thinking you already have most of this information in another book, perhaps think again as contained therein are conservation and distribution keys for each species and a thorough status and legislation list of the birds of Britain and Ireland.

Know your Snipe from the Jack Snipe and Curlew from your Whimbrel with greater comparative ease than ever and at the same time become informed about some of the rarest visitors to the British Isles such as the Varied Thrush.

This project has been 10 years in the making and I'm surprised it hasn't taken longer given the abundant detail and collective experienced insights readily shared with the reader for a token gesture retail price of less than £20. It's a gift to own and a joy to delve into. I recommend you do the same.

Visit: www.press.princeton.edu

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