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First of all, this covers 631 species accepted into the British & Irish lists by the end of 2019. It is a monumental book of 576 pages, so it would be a little weighty to carry around in the field- hopefully the e book will follow like the other excellent WILDguides. I did not buy the first edition but having seen previews of this one, I decided to splash out as I am a fan of photoguides if they are done right. Perhaps "splashing out" is not the right expression, as for £20, this is a steal, especially if you can get it cheaper like I did. The modern preference for photo montages are very educational, but can suffer from images that are too small. There is no artwork here just incredible photographs that show off all of the species identification features in a positive way. However, do we really need another ID guide for Britain's birds as there are so many terrific guides and apps available? Personally, I don't think so but this book takes ID to another level with a bewildering array of photographs taken from every angle, almost every conceivable plumage that are brilliantly laid out on the page so most species are given the ultimate treatment within the confines of the page so it's easy to digest in conjunction with the accompanying text and pointer boxes- a very important consideration that a lot of guides simply do not address. I spent about an hour when the book arrived, just casually browsing through, so this review is not hugely extensive. Each common or scarce species is given amp!e coverage, even extreme rarities like Green Warbler and Masked Shrike have images. The distribution maps are better than most guides, but still a little ambiguous -you simply can't accurately map every bird within a 3 x 1 inch space. 10 pages devoted to gulls before you get to the actual species accounts is wonderfully generic, a whole page of flying larks: three pages of skuas in flight and one page of wren races are my favourites so far. A little stingy on the Bean geese though. Just one page? Well, in spite of my minor gribbles, this is a fantastic book for amateur and experienced birders alike and even though I have been birding for almost 50 years, I'm glad I bought it as, like most birders, I'm sure that I will learn from it. Besides, it's fabulous to look at! However, I wouldn't like to have this book as my first reference if I were just starting birding today. There is just too much info here that would confuse the novice. This is really not a book for beginners, the simpler RSPB or BTO books are excellent and this book should be one to gravitate within the identification process. However, this book is a landmark in British Bird literature as much as the Collins guide and is I cannot recommend it to every birder highly enough.
As I previously said of the first edition, if you want a bird identification guide which uses photographs rather than paintings, then I would certainly recommend this excellent and beautiful book, now in an updated second edition. The new edition has also corrected some out-of-date population statistics that were included in the first edition. (Out-of-date even at that time.)
Personally, I prefer a book with paintings, because the artist can create what has been called a “composite bird”, highlighting the key identifying features of a species.
Nevertheless, I bought this book for two reasons: firstly, as an alternative and “back-up” for identification purposes; and secondly, for the aesthetic pleasure of browsing through the beautiful photographs. The book is excellent for both of these purposes.
However, I have to say that this book will not replace “The RSPB Handbook of British Birds” as my number one book for British birds. The reason for this is that the book reviewed here only contains brief information about each bird’s habitat, population and distribution.
The RSPB Handbook, on the other hand, is much more than just an identification guide. It also contains information on habitat, habits, food, breeding behaviour, distribution, movements, migration, population and conservation. So if you want to know something about the lives of the birds you are identifying and enjoying, then the RSPB Handbook is the one to get.
A new edition of the RSPB Handbook is at long last coming out in January 2021, and I can’t wait to get that. If you can afford to, I’d recommend buying both of these books.
Had to wait quite a while for the new edition of this book to come out, but it has certainly been worth it. I can't recommend this book too highly. The quality of the images, the overall presentation of the book and ease of use make this the No 1 Bird book in my opinion for the UK. Very satisfied with this purchase
Whether you are a keen ornithologist like me or just starting to become interested in the birdlife around you this is a must-have book for your library. Many photo guides have been produced through the years but this one eclipses them all. It's multiple photo's of each species in their various plumages plus a simple description make it stand out from the crowd by a country mile! For a book of such quality and size, the price is incredibly low. Do not miss adding this to your wildlife collection!
Brilliant. Where it scores over the collins pocket books is the range of photos of birds in different stances/perspectives and inclusion of rare visitors. Useful therefore for difficult identifications and generally learning more about our birds. I would say essential if you enjoy watching British birds, probably one to keep at home or in the car. Highly recommended.
An absolutely fantastic book. Just what I wanted. Amateur, keen, wannabe twitcher couldn’t be more pleased. The binding is good and opens well. Hefty to go walking with but the smaller pocket guide does till I get back to the car. If you love birds and want to be better informed this is for you!