This is a highly authoritative and engaging work that covers all aspects of the identification of the North Atlantic storm-petrels without ever losing sight of their magical allure. Founded on years of dedicated observation at sea and inspired by the passion of its authors, there could hardly be a better means of preparing for a pelagic trip in the North Atlantic than to study this book and revel in the accompanying DVD clips, of the birds as you might hope to see them! Killian Mullarney (Artist, author of the Collins Bird Guide). --Back cover endorsement
The unitizing of recent advanced digital video technology, with Bob Flood and Ashley Fisher's special identification approaches and passion for seabirds, has produced the first video-based approach that I regard as a step-forward in the process of learning about seabird identification at sea, suitable for a wide audience. I strongly encourage Bob and Ashley to complete their project on North Atlantic seabirds, and I highly recommend their upcoming video series. Nevertheless, just as a close up, sharp SLR image with detail of a petrel is irreplaceable documentation, video clips will never replace the experience and joy of viewing the seabirds in real life, in their natural environment - the ocean! (Hadoram Shirihai,Tubenoses Project & Extreme Gadfly Petrel Expeditions) --Back cover endorsement
A major contribution to storm petrel identification from Britain's top pelagic birders. The general approach is thorough and helpful, the footage is a pleasure to watch, and the analyses of flight modes and feeding behaviour have real scientific value. A great way to prepare yourself for those all important seconds or, if you're lucky, minutes, when something really exciting turns up. Magnus Robb(Author, Petrels Night and Day) --Back cover endorsement
Seabirds, as epitomized by tubenoses, are among the most enigmatic and sought-after of birds, from distant specks when seawatching to close-up encounters on pelagic trips. But even close-up views can be brief, and the ocean isn't always calm. Knowing what to look for in the critical few seconds that a bird may be in view has long been the trump card held by experienced seabirders - images in books can only go so far towards creating a "real-life" experience. With this new video, anyone can develop a feel for storm-petrels in life, birds that heretofore have been simply names and pictures in books. How do common species fly in different conditions? How does plumage and shape vary with wear and molt? How does a Swinhoe's Storm-petrel really fly, and is it that different from a Leach's? (Yes, it is!) What does a Band-rumped Storm-Petrel look like when among a group of Wilson's Storm-Petrels? These are all questions this new video-based multimedia approach helps address, produced by two people who are passionate about tubenoses and have spent much of their time in search of these ocean enigmas. Steve N. G. Howell (Author and Senior Field Leader, WINGS Birdwatching Tours Worldwide) --Back cover endorsement
If Fulmarine Petrels was a starter to whet our appetite, the main course has just been served. And wow, what a mouth-watering main course Storm-petrels & Bulwer's Petrel is. I was expecting a double DVD set with a booklet; instead, I opened the envelope to find a glossy hardback book, stuffed with colour photographs and maps, with the two DVDs tucked away behind either cover.
Storm-petrels & Bulwer's Petrel covers all species of storm-petrel recorded in the North Atlantic, plus two species considered to be potential vagrants -- White-bellied Storm-petrel and Matsudaira's Storm-petrel. The vast bulk of the footage is made up with Flood & Fisher's own at-sea footage, much of it filmed at close range though with a considerable chunk -- often, in many ways, the most useful footage for field identification -- filmed in 'authentic' pelagic conditions. The first DVD covers general identification, introduction to the species, and comparison of similar species. It finishes with an identification challenge -- brief clips ranging from beginner to expert, unlabelled on the DVD (though with the answers in the book); great fun and excellent practice. The second DVD covers each species in detail one by one.
The book complements both DVDs and adds a host of extra information into the mix, from maps and details of extralimital records to notes on taxonomy and an overview of plumage and jizz. There are numerous stunning colour photographs, many of birds in the field though with some of birds in the hand or museum specimens used to highlight key features, gorgeous pencil sketches by Ian Lewington, and notes on things such as wing structure and moult. It concludes with notes on some of the more complex taxonomic situations, a bullet-pointed 'ID jogger' for each species, and a list of all the footage or photos (cross-referenced with numbers on the DVD and including date, location and all background species).
Moult aside, is there anything else missing from this book and DVD? There's certainly a level of assumed viewer knowledge, and keeping the book in your lap whilst watching the DVD will definitely prove handy. A glance at a map of the Atlantic is also likely to help in understanding the ranges of some of the species. But by and large, for most keen birders, I don't think there will be any problems. The whole product works on three levels: the book can be used as a standalone reference, read from cover to cover or used as a source of particular information for individual species; the DVD and the book can be combined to provide an ultimate reference, combining moving footage with detailed descriptions; or you can simply sit back, relax, and watch the DVD through on its own, taking in the flight actions and jizz of the different species as you do so.
This is a beautiful product, well produced, well thought out and clearly driven by immense personal passion; for any birder with any interest in coastal or pelagic birds it is a serious must-have. For those at a more beginner level, looking for help in telling House Martin and European Storm-petrel apart, this is probably not the best guide to begin with; but for those out there who have ever wondered how easy it would be to pick out a passing Madeiran Storm-petrel or if there's more to telling a Swinhoe's from a dark-rumped Leach's than just critical evaluation of plumage (yes, there is!) then this guide comes highly recommended. I'm already salivating at the prospect of the next release, Pterodromas. (Stephen Menzie Tuesday 30th August 2011)