This book is very good.
Why would you need another bird identification guide or field guide? Because this one is very good!
This is a quite straight forward bird identification guide – there isn’t much mucking about with other information – and that’s good.
It covers birds you might see in Britain and Ireland – including lots of species that you are very unlikely to see, but other people have seen so you might just see them too.
There are a few illustrations but the book is dominated by photographs – in some guides this approach works and in some it doesn’t – here it does. And that’s because the photographs are good and are reproduced clearly. Also, the authors have done something classy and clever with how the images appear – in each section all the birds are facing and/or flying the same way – left to right (eg seabirds, ducks etc) or right to left (most waders (but have a look)) but not a hotch potch. This is not only helpful but also aesthetically pleasing.
If you have never seen Hen Harriers, then this book will tell you where they live and how you can tell them from Montagu’s Harriers (and Marsh Harriers) – including those brown females and including juveniles, and, of course, in flight as well as on the deck. But it will teach you how to identify Pallid Harriers and Northern Harriers as well. And so this book will work for keen novices and more experienced observers alike. And yes, some over-keen observers will persuade themselves they have seen a Pallid or Northern when they’ve actually seen female Hen Harrier but that’s not the fault of the book.
As always in a book, the expression of bird calls and songs is a difficult area and although this book alone might not always get you to the right place, it will certainly help.
I will find this book very useful and I will learn quite a lot from it. I’ve looked through the species I care about and sometimes find difficult – eg raptors, waders, gulls – and got something from every page. So I’m guessing many of you will too – whatever your level of expertise.
This book is good value for money (prices will vary, but it’s not expensive) and will last you for a good many years.
You’ll need a large pocket to take it into the field with you, but I’d slip it into your rucksack or make sure it is in the car for rapid consultation after your walk.
Britain’s Birds: an identification guide to the birds of Britain and Ireland by Rob Hume, Robert Still, Andy Swash, Hugh Harrop and David Tipling is published by Princeton.
Remarkable Birds by Mark Avery is published by Thames and Hudson.