on 5 November 2000
This book was very useful in identifying wildlife in Ecuador and it was nice to have one book with a selection of amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and even a few invertebrates rather than carrying lots of different books. It is a good size to carry when travelling and the text is much more interesting than in your average field guide and a good introduction to the ecology of Ecuador. However there are so many different species in Ecuador that unsurprisingly it can sometimes be frustrating when you can't even identify an incredibly colourful bird using this book. There are about 1,600 species of birds in Ecuador and only 350 or so in this book! So if you are very serious about your birding I would recommend Birds of Columbia (until Birds of Ecuador is published, it is apparently on the way). However then you will need a separate mammal, amphibian, reptile guide as well if you are interested. I haven't been to the Galapagos, but I believe that there are quidebooks that cover all the species found there which are probably more useful than this one.
However all in all I would highly recommend this book for a holiday to Ecuador as long as you are not obsessed with identifying everything you see to species. On the whole, most animals you will see will be the more common ones and therefore will be found in this book.
on 22 November 2008
I bought this book, as I imagine most do, just before heading off on my dream holiday to Ecuador and the Galapagos. We visited mountains, cloud forest, amazon rainforest and the Galapagos and I wanted a book to cover it all for mammals, birds and lower vertebrates. In principle that is what I got, the information on habitats and the basic ID's for most species were there, all in one portable book.
However, I felt let down by the generalness of the species ID section, it really needs to be bigger. I am not a die hard birder/biologist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like to actually have some scope in which to identify common species and I found myself time and again putting this book aside to borrow other material from the lodges/hotels and other travellers, which was a shame. If I went again, I would not take this book with me.
It still gets 3 stars as the information it contains is interesting and it is by no means a bad book, just didn't do what I wanted it for well enough!
on 5 September 2008
This was a very disappointing buy and in 5 weeks in Ecuador I found it useful once. I would not recommend it to knowledgeable naturalists or beginners.
As a general ecological guide to Ecuador it provides little information specific to the region, but has over 300 pages of patronising and very basic text on, for example, why a whale is classified as a whale.
I wanted a field guide to the wildlife of Ecuador, including birds as i didnt want to carry the comprehensive and very heavy bird guide. However, the photographic images are of very poor quality and the drawn plates are sometimes rather ambiguous. Additionally, the authors seem to have chosen the included wildlife completely at random; many of the commoner species are not included, yet very rare or elusive species were.
Needless to say - it was not worth the baggage weight and was left behind.