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RSPB Birds of Britain and Europe Flexibound – 2 May 2002

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Product details

  • Flexibound: 448 pages
  • Publisher: DK (2 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751312347
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751312348
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.7 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 483,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

I began watching birds as a child and made my first written notes - recording a jay in Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield - before my 12th birthday. It became serious after about the age of 15, with more than 2000 recorded visits to my 'local patch', Chasewater, in the first few years. South Staffordshire was my local area, including Chasewater, Cannock Chase and Blithfield Reservoir, but I watched birds farther afield especially in Essex and widely in the highlands of Scotland. I still rate as my best 'find' a Cory's shearwater at Chasewater in Staffordshire - as far from the sea as you can get - one calm, sunny day at the beginning of October, although the same location brought rarer birds, too, especially a least sandpiper.
I spent six years as a student/postgrad in Swansea, getting to know coastal birds much better, and beginning to travel in search of rarities - also visiting the Isles of Scilly in autumn. Following this I spent two years in mid Wales working for the RSPB before moving to the RSPB HQ in Sandy, Bedfordshire, at the beginning of 1978.
I still looked up Staffordshire as 'home' and still kept up my visits to Chasewater and my friendships there, with birdwatching colleagues who taught me a huge amount - and we travelled more in search of rare birds from time to time.
I also began to travel abroad more, leading RSPB wildlife holidays and then others for other organisations, visiting Spain, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Zimbabwe and East Africa, as well as Texas, the Seychelles and Iceland on RSPB related business; personal trips later added several winter visits to the Netherlands, Ireland, more visits to Spain, Portugal, Greece and Israel,the Canaries and Madeira, a return to Zimbabwe and various other countries from Cuba and Tobago to the USA, India and Australia. Seeing so many species abroad is exciting in itself but also adds a new perspective to those seen at home.
Gulls have always been a particular fascination, with early interests in UK yellow-legged gulls from the beginning of the 1970s (before they were really recognised as such), glaucous and Iceland gulls and Mediterranean gulls, plus ring-billed gulls from March 1973. They remain so: seeing scores of Mediterranean gulls is remarkable, now, considering how rare they once were, as well as tens/dozens of yellow-legged gulls, but searching the local roosts in Hampshire is more likely to be for Caspian gulls than glaucous or Iceland. However, I also wrote identification papers on common and arctic terns and many notes and papers in the journal 'British Birds' on subjects as varied as seabirds inland in the 1987 "hurricane", a review of the reaction of birds to rain, "herring" gulls in the West Midlands and Israel and sparrowhawk displays.
I changed my RSPB job to become editor of the youth membership magazine, 'Bird Life', commissioning artwork from the likes of the then unknown Ian Lewington, and then editor of the adult magazine, 'Birds'. This led to many more contacts with well known writers, photographers and artists as well as various personalities in and on the fringe of the conservation world. Interviews in 'Birds' ranged from Julian Pettifer and Richard Fitter (who 'invented' the field guide concept in the UK just as much as Peterson did in the USA) to David Attenborough.
At the same time I became a member of the Editorial Board of 'British Birds' and a member of the British Birds Rarities Committee, becoming Chairman for several years (and therefore also attending meetings of the BOU Records Committee in that capacity). I had already cut my teeth on record assessment and report writing in both the West Midlands and Gower.
Books came along with an Usborne guide to birds and the "prestigious" rewrite of the famous Observer's Book of Birds for Frederick Warne; then various others for an assortment of publishers, plus many articles for monthly partworks and encyclopedias. I wrote a monograph on the common tern and a behaviour guide to seabirds, and texts to accompany paintings by Terance James Bond and Trevor Boyer. The various books for Mitchell Beazley in collaboration with Peter Hayman - Mitchell Beazley pocket guides, guide to the birds of Britain and Europe, Bird etc - were a highlight because of the meticulous and remarkable work by Peter Hayman (still strangely underrated but full of amazing information and brilliant paintings based on Peter's detailed researches). Bigger sellers came from Dorling Kindersley, especially the RSPB-branded photographic field guides - a revised version for 2011 promises much improvement.
I'm still working in a freelance capacity for the RSPB at times, but have now officially retired: work for DK, Reader's Digest and other publishers, plus painting and drawing, keeps me going, but I welcome more. Now living on the fringe of the New Forest, I see more birds than I have done for some years despite missing out on, for example, quick dashes to Norfolk.

Product Description

Review

...colourful and well-designed and is a valuable guide to rookie and experienced birders (Countryman) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Rob Hume is a writer, editor, artist, identification expert, and bird tour leader, and is much in demand for his expertise on birds. Rob has worked for the RSPB for 23 years, and now edits the society's magazine, Birds.

Inside This Book

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 71 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Jan. 2003
Format: Flexibound
Being new to this field, I have found this book of great value. I have encountered several other guides, and have to say without a shadow of doubt, this is the best. Each bird is alotted its own page, containing both photographs and drawings of top quality. There is a wealth of info on all aspects of the bird, including song, its individual style of flight, lifespan, breeding and much more.
Of particular use is a section at the bottom of each page offering photographs of similar species, to further ensure you can make a correct I.D.
Overall, a top buy, of top quality.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By "jadeberma" on 6 July 2002
Format: Flexibound
I have found this book invaluable in helping me identify birds. As a new and young person to the world of birdwatching I find the photographic format far easier to relate to then drawings. As each species gets a whole page and has pictures of similar birds at the bottom I have found this a good checker. Also the rare birds are at the back so you don't get confused and think you have spotted something new when it is a common bird.
A friend reccomended this book to me and I recommend it to any one keen to know what they are looking at. It is probably a bit basic for the proffessional twitcher or birder but loads of colourful photos for the casual watcher. It also covers all of Britain and Europe so I can use it abroad as well... a bargain!
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 April 2006
Format: Flexibound
This really is an excellent book, packed with information but presented with the clarity and flair typical of many Dorling Kindersley titles.
The annotated photographic images of species are consistently superb, showing male/female summer/winter etc, in as much detail as the format allows. The images have obviously been carefully chosen and processed to be attractive and informative. If you've been disappointed with photographic guides before, buy with confidence here.
I also found the brief text on each species to be useful, the descriptions of typical behaviour really helping to identify in some cases.
The "similar species" section is also a great idea for new or part-time bird watchers
Add to this in-flight illustrations, distribution maps/calendars, habitat details, statistics, there is a lot of information here.
Wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 July 2007
Format: Paperback
We come to expect quality books when they carry the RSPB name and logo and they do not let us down, my only slight quibble is that this particular book says on the front "UK's Best Selling field Guide." To my way of thinking it is a little large for a pocket guide. Carrying a camera field glasses is enough without a weighty book that you will struggle to get into a pocket.

Having said that nothing can detract from the quality and content of the book, which is superb. The book features every bird found in Britain and Europe and for the most commonly seen 330 species there is a full page profile on each bird.

Modern printing techniques have improved this type of book tremendously over the years and the book is printed on a good quality paper. All in all difficult to beat for identification purposes. For those who love their large glossy photographs there are plenty of those on the shelves too.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Roger Smith on 16 May 2003
Format: Flexibound
This is a fairly new book and differs from other guides such as Collins in that it uses photagraphic style images rather than sketches.
This works well and there are some sketches presumably where no photo was available.
The guide has extra useful information like flight characteristics.
It avoids the usual irratation in guides of refering one to other pages for maps, pictures etc. Very good. Best I've seen.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Moseley on 16 Aug. 2010
Format: Flexibound
In my opinion, this is the best book for UK & European birds. The superb colour photos make identification easy in most cases and so much more reliable than books which use hand-drawn illustrations. For trickier species, the species descriptions are great too. For example, some wading birds are notoriously difficult to tell apart, especially when they move from summer to winter plumage and vice versa. Yesterday, I saw what I thought were a pair of spotted redshank, but I'd left my book in the car ( I need to get myself the pocket fieldbook edition). Without the book to refer to I observed the behaviour of the birds, which were feeding aggressively. I just knew that, if the birds were spotted redshank as I thought, there would be something about aggressive feeding in the species description and sure enough, there was.

A top, top book. It's a thrill to mark off the species you've seen and dream about seeing the ones you haven't.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jackie on 15 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
Bought this as a present for my husband as we both had 1970-ish copies of The Hamlyn Guide to Birds of Britain & Europe from our youth and the distribution maps were really out of date (eg Little Egrets are by no means confined to Southern Europe, we often see them here in Suffolk).

This Dorling Kindersley book is really clear in its presentation and has so much included on the page devoted to each bird: as well as a short written description, photo(s) and drawings showing the adult, juvenile, summer vs winter plumage and sometimes the bird in flight there is a flight pattern diagram, distribution map, tabulated info on the months it has been seen in the UK, length, wingspan, weight, sociability, lifespan & status.
However given that we are interested in birds but not experts, what sets it apart from other bird books we have seen, is the small illustrated section on similiar birds that points out the key differences between them.

And yes, we have checked how up to date the Little Egret map is - it reckons they have got as far as the south coast of Britian but the 1st words in the description are "Steadily moving northwards in Western Europe......" so perhaps they will be shown in Suffolk in the next version!
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