The Dutch or Netherlands Antilles have long been overlooked as field guides go. As they lie close to Venezuela they have been ignored by the Caribbean guides and as they are not part of Venezuela they have been ignored in those guides. The islands themselves are a holiday destination so this guide comes as a welcome addition to the many avifauna guides.
The introduction covers the history of the islands then there are pages on general flora and fauna, avifauna, how to use the book and birding topography. Each of the islands gets a page with a map covering the special birding areas. A few notes about conservation law and the first Ramsar sites in the western hemisphere and a few paragraphs about local names.
Next are the 70 plates and species accounts. Each plate is faced with text. Names is English and Latin are given with local names for Ar, Bon, Cur and in Dutch. Descriptions and identification hints follow with specific ID points in bold text. Description of Voice is covered followed by Habits and Habitat. Status covers breeding and migration for the islands and there are some notes where relevant about taxonomy.
After the plates there is an appendix of escaped and introduced birds followed by a checklist of the areas species and which islands they occur on.
For me the artwork is a bit sub-par considering Robin Restalls rather good work in Munias and Mannikins, there are examples of some quite nice work with the passerines, especially the Warblers, but some of the other plates have some inconsistent work, though most of the features will still aid in identification there are a few discrepancies. That said there is plenty of artwork for the many subspecies one would encounter. The Frigatebirds, Boobies, Skuas, Jaegers, Gulls and Terns get a lot of artwork covering the many morphs, plumages, etc. The three subspecies of Black Skimmer are well covered as are the subspecies of Black-whiskered and Red-eyed Vireo.
There is much to like about this book and much that was needed in the coverage of the avifauna of these islands. Though some of the artwork is a bit spotty in quality and there are no range maps, though for three small islands is this really necessary, I think this is a valuable addition to the avian book genre. Anyone with a chance to visit the islands will need to take this guide.
The link below is for Robin Restall's other work which has nothing to do with the islands but shows the quality of his artwork.Munias and Mannikins