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RSPB Complete Birds of Britain & Europe [Hardcover]

Rob Hume
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Feb 2003
This guide uses an integrated photographic approach to profile the extraordinary range of birds found in the Western Palearctic region. With its comprehensive coverage, easy-to-use layout and visual impact, it should appeal to bird enthusiasts of all ages and levels of experience. The book opens with an introduction that offers a portrait of birds and their habitats. Covering evolution, anatomy and behaviour, it also describes how birds have adapted to different environments - from wetlands and rocky coasts to woodland and urban gardens. The 320 species most commonly seen in Britain and Europe have full-page coverage, comprising of a large photograph of each bird in its most frequently observed plumage with supporting images showing the most important plumage variations: adult/juvenile; male/female; and winter/summer. Additional illustrations reveal the characteristic appearance of each bird in flight, while "in situ" views portray a range of behaviours and habits. Similar-looking species and subspecies are also pictured, for comparison. In each species profile, key features are highlighted by annotation around each picture and further details of voice, nesting, feeding, migration, habitat, nomenclature, physical statistics, social grouping, behaviour, lifespan and conservation status are presented in jargon-free text. Distribution is shown in colour-coded maps. In addition to the main species, over 200 less common and peripheral birds are also illustrated and described, while a further 276 very rare and introduced species are concisely profiled.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Dorling Kindersley; 1st Edition 1st Printing edition (10 Feb 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751373540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751373547
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 3.9 x 29.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 467,272 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

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best (non pocket )reference book there is 29 Oct 2005
An excellent guide to all European birds from Iceland to Israel plus all the vagrants that have visited. The best part of this book is that it has all photos. Some guide books have drawings or coloured illustrations which sometimes are far removed from the bird you want to identify. Having said that this is a hefty book and therefore is not much use in the field, the paperback is smaller and lighter but I prefer this even so. It has a lot of bird info at the front and is the best complete guide I have come across.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant for Identification 15 Aug 2007
By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER
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.

Whether you are an armchair addict, or a twitcher of the first order, this guide and 70-minute CD are essential reference. The book and video introduce you to 800 species that are regularly and not so regularly found in Britain and Europe. The book contains beautiful photographs, including ones of the different plumages, both male, female and juvenile. There is information on habitat and virtually everything you need to know to obtain a true picture of each individual species.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant coffee table bird reference book 21 Mar 2010
By Tony644
This book is superb with some of the best Photos and pictures of any birdbook and we have several. The format is one specie per page. It highlights features to look for to aid identification, differences between males, females and juveniles where necessary. There are flight "patterns", distribution maps and status. Also, most usefully it has pictures of similar looking species on the page. Saw it first at an RSPB site and decided to buy it. It is a coffee table bird book so you will also need a pocket book to take with you for example - RSPB Pocket Birds.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic bird guide 18 Dec 2005
This is a fantastic field guide for birdwatchers to have on their bookshelf. The photos are superb, and I personally find them much easier to use for bird identification, than the classic birdwatching field guides that have artists representations. It is a shame that this book is too big and heavy to use outdoors as a field guide (not that I would want to as it might get ruined). However the RSPB have thought of that and have a slimmed down pocket guide available as well.
First class RSPB and DK. Watch out Collins guides, there is a new kid on the block.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RSPB Complete Birds - Customer Review 9 Jun 2010
This book was bought as a birthday present for a friend who very much enjoys sitting in his garden/conservatory and watching the birds who visit it. He is a bird lover and this has presented a whole new world to him and also to his family and friends. He is in his seventies and found that this book has considerably increased his enjoyment. He can also look up birds he has seen on walks etc.

An excellent book all round.

An excellent book for bird lovers of all ages. This was bought as a present for an old friend who much enjoys watching the birds in his garden and found this helps in his identification of species and also appreciation of the different varieties. The gentleman in question is a pensioner but has found the book also much enjoyed by his family.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 30 Mar 2010
This is a beautifully made book and has already proved it's worth in identifying birds we have seen and were not too sure about. The fact that it is all photographs as opposed to drawings makes a huge difference when looking for small differences between birds
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 12 Feb 2010
As with all Dorling Kindersley books it has been put together extremely well. The photos are clear and the similar birds on the bottom of the pages are very handy for the amateur bird watcher. The hard cover means it will be in good condition for years to come. It is not pocket sized but it makes an invaluable helper when trying to identify birds from the kitchen or conservatory.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complete Birds of Britain and Europe 28 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A beautiful book. The best I've seen for this section of the world. RSPB Complete Birds of Britain and Europe Good profiles and habitat descriptions.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The delivery was excellent. This book has been well set out and ...
The delivery was excellent. This book has been well set out and walks you through each process. Great author will be looking at their other books. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ian Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by kelvin plimmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a great reference book with lots of interesting facts
Published 3 months ago by Julie P
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Quality book with great illustrations. Very satisfied.
Published 3 months ago by LP
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done
Bought as a birthday gift...which the recipient thinks is wonderful and will use it as often as possible when needed.
Published 8 months ago by Dr. Nigel D. Miles
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Book!
A wonderfully illustrated and clearly worded book. Its a must for amateur birdlovers. I would recommend this book to anybody.
Published 10 months ago by Hazel
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice and clear
I bought this for my dad as a birthday present so he could see what the birds in his garden were. (And also for when he visits Europe! Read more
Published 15 months ago by Matt
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book but:-
Purchased this book to get more detailed information. In reality it contains very little addition useful information over the much cheaper (white) version by same author and in... Read more
Published 15 months ago by G. Beever
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I wanted
Lots of useful information, clearly presented for an interested novice. A pleasure to browse in and easy to use for reference.
Published 17 months ago by Chris Topham
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
Fulfilled all I was looking for, loads of pictures and I particularly like the similar birds part and the flight pattern.
Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
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