This is the 1995 edition of "Birds of Britain and Europe, with North Africa and the Middle East", the almost classical field guide to European birds, edited by Hermann Heinzel, Richard Fitter and John Parslow. The guide was originally published in 1972 (I actually have a Swedish translation of the original), and new editions have appeared on a semi-regular basis since. In 1995, the guide was so substantially revised, that it essentially became an entirely new book.
The guide covers a vast geographic area: Europe including the European part of Russia, North Africa, the Caucasus, and the Middle East north of Saudi Arabia and west of Teheran. It further covers the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores. The breeding birds of East Greenland are also included, since they are all European birds. I honestly don't understand the point of covering such a vast and variegated area, but it sure is exciting with a field guide that can be used in both Khuzestan, Moscow, Lapland and the City of London! Twitching, anyone? The book covers both breeding species, migrants and rare vagrants. The ambition of the authors to cover all bird species found within "their" area has led them to include the Ostrich (because one Ostrich was washed downstream to Jordan from Saudi Arabia in 1966) and the Budgerigar (because they tend to escape from captivity). This may strike some people as ridiculous. Personally, I find it entertaining. Besides, it makes the book the easily most comprehensive field guide to European, North African and Middle Eastern birds. If you see a bird that's not included in this book, you are probably hallucinating!
"Birds of Britain and Europe" is published in paperback on water-resistant paper, and is easy to carry around. It illustrats over 800 species, all in color. The quality of the illustrations range from tolerable to good. The color plates and the text are on facing pages, and range maps are included. An absolute beginner may find the sheer number of species forbidding, and some of the illustrations too small. If so, I rather recommend a field guide covering a more restricted geographic area.
Personally, I think "Birds of Britain and Europe" is one of the better European birding guides. But no, don't take my word for it. I might be somewhat partial to Heinzel & Co, since I bought the original edition already as a kid, and have an unhealthy obsession with vagrants, hybrids and implanted species, LOL. If you're really interested in European birds and bird-watching, you might as well invest in both this book, Svensson's "Complete guide to the birds of Europe" and Jonsson's "Birds of Europe".
The Washed Down Ostrich fan club, over and out.