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Birdnut (Cambridgeshire, England)

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Advanced Bird ID Handbook
Advanced Bird ID Handbook
by Nils van Duivendijk
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.99

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a 'must have' for serious birders, 9 Aug. 2011
Background

In 2010, the ground breaking 'Advanced Bird ID Guide' was published in English for the first time. This was an update of the original Dutch version published in 2002. It was a revelation. No illustrations apart from topography diagrams, and with no maps, there had never been anything quite like it before. Although about the same size as the Collins Bird Guide (but thinner), it contained a huge amount of information regarding identification, ageing, sexing and racing any bird encountered in the field in Europe. The great thing about the book was that it was so portable, and really lent itself to being used whilst out. Many birders (myself included) were so impressed with it that they purchased a second copy to be left on the shelf as a home reference, while leaving the first to become dog - eared by constant use in the field. Now, just a year later we have the 'Advanced Bird ID Handbook'. This is essentially the same book, but much larger, and is indeed intended to be that 'home reference' of the earlier book. So why buy this book, when it is coming so quickly after the first?

The Book

The 'Advanced Bird ID Handbook' is larger, so is much more comfortable to use as a home reference book. It has a larger typeface and about 100 extra pages. Size wise it's similar to the chunky (and recently published) 'Crossley ID Guide' to Eastern Birds (USA). It's a softback and also similar in style to the Crossley Guide. There is a 'Bird Family Finder' listed on the cover flaps both on the front and continued on the back for quick location of the bird you are searching for. The design and layout inside are pretty much the same as the earlier book, but more spaced out and easier on the eye. Inside the front cover are the topography diagrams from the first book, and inside the back cover is a map of the Western Palearctic. The book includes 1,350 species and subspecies - that's 50 more than stated on the cover of the smaller guide. It states that there are 'significant updates and additions to 570 species accounts', these would perhaps take a week to find so I'll just have to take their word for it! A more obvious change to the earlier book is the inclusion of '23 tables comparing key features of similar species'. These are simple grey box tables throughout the book and cover pairs such as Manx and Yelkouan Shearwater, Wilson's and Common Snipe, Booted and Sykes's Warbler, and even Marsh and Willow Tit. While checking Table 1: Tundra and Taiga Bean Geese I noticed a bad mistake where the table got the 'Overall shape' the wrong way round. So we had Taiga Bean 'more compact with a thick neck' and Tundra Bean 'larger than Tundra with thinner neck and long rear end. Male nearly size of Greylag Goose' ! This was very disappointing, and with thousands of pieces of information in this book, how many more are incorrect? Another addition to the smaller book is the inclusion (towards the back) of a checklist of the Birds of the Western Palearctic, although only Category A and B species. One feature of the large and small versions of the book that I really like is the inclusion of several species that have not yet been recorded in the Western Palearctic, but could possibly occur in the future. This makes this book so wonderfully comprehensive and forward thinking.

Conclusion

I'm a big fan of this book and the earlier 'field' version. It enables you to take your bird identification skills to a new advanced level. It gets you looking at birds in a new way, and you soon realise that there is even so much more to learn about the more common birds. It's incredible to have a book that includes pretty much all the currently known information required to identify, sex, age and race any bird you could see in the Western Palearctic. Not only this, but it is so easy to read - no trawling through lots of text to get to the relevant information. This book will be a great home reference for checking identification criteria on photos from the internet, magazines, or even personal ones. If you are serious about your birding and especially ID, this book is indispensable. Highly recommended.


The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Extended Edition) [Blu-ray] [2011] [2001]
The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Extended Edition) [Blu-ray] [2011] [2001]
Dvd ~ Elijah Wood

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Should have been better, 14 July 2011
I was very excited about owning The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition on bluray. Before purchase I had read all the internet discussion about 'the green tint' on 'The Fellowship', the uproar regarding the films still being split onto 2 discs, and the disappointment that the extras are only standard DVD. I thought the grumbles from a few reviewers regarding feeling 'ripped off' because it was released on Extended so soon after the theatrical version were laughable! Surely everyone should have known this was going to happen. Just to warn you, there will be plenty more of this type of thing happening in the next few years, especially after The Hobbit films come out. Despite this, I really just had to see my favourite films in high definition.

Packaging:

First of all the box. The actual box that the films are housed in is well made and looks really nice, a bronze /gold finish with embossed lettering. The fact that it has the '12' classification stamped all over it no less than 6 times rather spoils the overall effect somewhat. I would have liked less of those or even a couple of stickers that I could have peeled off and thrown as far away as I could! Inside, the bluray cases are nice and chunky, but with a strong fairly unpleasant plastic smell. You especially notice this when you open the cases. The small leaflet you get inside each case is pretty much the same as the DVD Extended Editions. I was surprised that the same 5 characters are used on all three film cases despite the large cast, and I would question Arwen being a main character.

Films:

I have compared the first part of The Fellowship of the Ring on bluray with the same part on the original Extended Edition on DVD. Some have expressed disappointment, some have hardly noticed a difference and suggest that maybe the persons TV is not calibrated right. My TV is a Sony 40'' Bravia, and my Bluray player is a Sony S370. They are only a few months old and are superb regarding picture quality. I was shocked and very disappointed in the difference between the two versions. To my eyes there is an obvious green tint to this bluray, and the scenes inside Bag End look dreadful. There is an ugly, dull yellow tint, which makes you fell slightly ill watching it! The original DVD Extended looks far better and more 'natural' in this respect. Outside in Hobbiton, the greens are brighter, which is okay, but although sunny on the DVD's, on the bluray everything is slightly duller as if slightly cloudier. Obviously the picture on the bluray is sharper and better you can see more detail, but has there been some sort of mistake with the transfer on the first film? Apparently the new colour pallette is deliberate, but what we have here is 'The Two Towers' and 'Return of the King' looking good and the 'Fellowship' with this strange difference in colour. On seeing the finished result, it is very difficult for me to believe that the film makers would really want this film to look like this. Are we going to get a bluray edition that comes out with The Hobbit films that has the original colour? I suppose I'm being a bit too cynical. While watching all three films, I thought I noticed small additions to dialogue or scene length on certain scenes. I have watched these films a few times over the years, but certain brief parts that I saw this time I didn't remember from previous viewings. I wonder if any other fans have noticed this? Could we now have an extended of the Extended?
The picture quality does seem to improve with each film. The second film 'The Two Towers' is better than 'Fellowship' and without any colour problems, and 'Return of the King' is the best of all and is a joy to behold! Such fantastic detail to be seen, the orcs and the white city of Minas Tirith being particularly memorable. Thought they were all filmed at the same time? I guess processing techniques improved with each year these films were being worked on. Unfortunately at the moment I haven't got surround sound so I haven't heard these at their best, but by all accounts the sound is excellent on these blurays. The fact that each film is split over two discs isn't a problem for me at all. It seems as if this had to be done as to insure the highest picture quality, and let's be honest that's what we all want. At some point in the future I'm sure we will see brilliant quality on one disc, but for the time being we're being told that it has to be two so that's going to have to be okay. Good to stretch your legs after a couple of hours anyway!

Extras:

We have 9 discs of extras - all on standard DVDs. Initially disappointed with this as it is supposed to be a bluray box set, but I can now see why it's been done this way. All the excellent documentaries of the original Extended Editions are here plus the Costa Botes documentaries, which I was unaware of and had not seen before. The Costa Botes documentaries (one for each film) are 'fly on the wall' type and are really very good - both interesting and entertaining. If you haven't seen them before, and you are a big fan of these films, they are well worth seeing. They are quite long (around 1 hour 45), and you see plenty of the cast fooling around on set and generally having a good time. Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan are very prominent, but there is surprisingly very little of Orlando Bloom. Bernard King comes across as a really great bloke to work with.

Conclusion:

At last we have the high definition versions of these very special films. If you love the films and own a bluray player, then they are worth owning. This is because if you only have the old extended editions you upgrade to a sharper, more detailed picture plus you get the Costa Botes documentaries. The Amazon price is good at just under £45 (compared with other outlets), but this is as much as I would be willing to pay for this package considering so much of it is repeated from the original extended edition. The picture quality on 'The Two Towers' and 'Return of the King' exceed expectations from films that are now a few years old, but the colour problems with 'The Fellowship of the Ring' are noticeable and spoil what should have been a five star product.


Birds of Europe
Birds of Europe
by Lars Jonsson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful artwork from 'The Master', 9 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Birds of Europe (Paperback)
This book was first published in 1992, and it held the title of 'Top Birders Field Guide' until the Collins Bird Guide was published in 1999. Of course this guide is the one with illustrations by Lars Jonsson, arguably the greatest 'natural' bird artist in the world. His work is perhaps not best suited to the field guide format, but his birds almost fly off the page they are so realistic. They are also at a larger size than in most guides, and this makes for a real feast for the eyes! Lars also wrote the text, so this book represents an amazing body of work for one person. I notice that rather surprisingly this guide is becoming difficult to obtain from Amazon. I do hope it will be available again soon as I think that everyone into Birdwatching should own this book.


Collins Bird Guide
Collins Bird Guide
by Dan Zetterstrom
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.40

5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Birder's Field Guide for Britain and Europe, 9 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Collins Bird Guide (Hardcover)
I have been looking forward to seeing the 2nd edition of the Collins Bird Guide ever since I heard there would be one - perhaps 8 years ago! It has been a long wait, but on the whole well worth it. Simply this is the book that everyone in Europe with an interest in Birds should own. It is by far the best field guide to European birds, and is far better than the 1st Edition. Anyone comparing this one with the first edition will quickly want to retire their old copy!

There are many plus points to this book, including: Overall size, great layout and design (with plates facing the text), a huge amount of information between the covers, the stunning quality of most of the plates, Lars Svensson writing the text (a tad conservative but he would be my No.1 choice), superb artwork by Killian Mullarney and Zan Zetterstrom (making up a formidable team), 'a significent contribution' by the late great Peter Grant - in fact this edition is dedicated to his memory. This 2nd edition has more pages than the original, better and more 'crisper' printing, many new plates and many 'much improved' plates, better maps, more species and races covered, the calendar now printed in the introduction to Waders, and now the American passerines are up to the same standard as the rest of the book.

I really like the extended introductions to Birds of Prey, Waders, Skuas, Gulls and Warblers. These offer advice on how best to approach the identification of these sometimes difficult groups.

What we all want is a guide with accurate illustrations, and no other field guide to birds has illustrations to match this one (with the possible exception of Lars Jonsson's 'Birds of Europe'). In the first edition there were a few that were a little disappointing, but this book puts a lot right. Many of the plates have had a juggle, this has resulted in many given more space, other illustrations from the first edition reproduced bigger, others re-arranged differently on the same plate, and others placed along side more similar species. The new plates are really excellent, and my favourites are: Short-eared, Long-eared and Marsh Owl - such a perfect plate (three species illustrated exquisitely on the right hand side of the spread with plenty of 'breathing space' and text on the left hand side with the maps), Yellow-browed, Hume's Leaf, Pallas's, Dusky and Radde's Warbler is another prety much perfectly executed plate (and the Radde's is superb), Sparrowhawk and Goshawk (now having twice the space as in the 1st edition), the new illustrations for Red-breasted and Taiga Flycatcher, Chiffchaffs, Eagle Owl, the North American Thrushes, and Red-backed,
Isabelline, Turkestan and Brown Shrikes. But there is plenty more superb artwork to savour in this amazing book. Really pleased that now the treatment of the Gulls has been expanded, and we now have full treatments for American Herring, Caspian (hooray) and Armenian, while Baltic and Heuglin's get fuller treatment within Lesser Black-backed, and Yellow-legged has been given more space.

The vast majority of the plates are near perfect, but there are others that, in my opinion, could have been improved. Considering the very high standards of this guide I was surprised that the pages featuring Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Ringed Plover, Bee Eater, Linnet, Trumpeter Finch and Yellowhammer were not given the make over. I was quite disappointed that the Redpolls were untouched, and surprised that there is still no illustration for sinensis Cormorant. The new plate featuring vagrant wildfowl is too cramped as still are the pages featuring Ross's Gull, Collared Dove and Hen Harrier. This second edition is about 50 pages thicker (although you hardly notice this), I would have liked to have seen a few more pages so that the few cramped plates could have been given a little more 'breathing space'. In my copy there are just a few plates that are printed a little too dark, the plate featuring Hen, Montagu's and a not very pallid Pallid Harrier being a good example.

Also, I'm not all that keen on the sections at the rear of the book featuring Vagrants, Accidentals and Introduced / Escaped birds. The accidentals couldn't really be illustrated but I thought that the birds mentioned in the other two sections should at least have an illustration. In the Vagrants section Wilson's and Swinhoe's Snipe are glaring omissions (big white space on page), and we also lack drawings for Dwarf Bittern, Green-backed Heron, Willet, Morning Dove, Cedar Waxwing, Siberian Blue Robin, Eastern-crowned Warbler (ouch) and Scarlet Tanager. There are 12 species without an illustration in the 'Introduced and Escapes' section.

Despite my few minor grumbles, this is one heck of a book. Every birder in the region will want to own one. I would recommend it to a beginner as they would certainly be starting off on the right note. The design, layout and quality of the artwork are so good, in fact it really is a beautiful book. The price is very reasonable and represents good value for money. In fact you just can't go wrong buying this book as it is a pretty stunning achievement. Thanks to Lars, Killian, Dan, and the late Peter Grant, this region surely has THE best field guide.


Advanced Bird ID Guide
Advanced Bird ID Guide
by Nils van Duivendijk
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential kit for Birders, 9 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Advanced Bird ID Guide (Paperback)
This amazing book (in association with top birders journal British Birds) describes all the field marks of all the birds (1,300 forms/races) of the Western Palearctic. With this book you have all the pointers to be able to age, sex and race any bird you are likely to see in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The only illustrations are the bird topography drawings near the front of the book, and there are no distribution maps. Certainly do not let this put you off - this book is absolutely crammed with cutting edge identification criteria.
Design is modern, crisp and looks very 'workmanlike' and thorough. Size wise it's about the same as an average paperback. The design is very pleasing on the eye. All the relevant ID pointers are presented in 'bullet form' underneath the species heading, with the most key at the top, and then listing others in order of relevance. Starting with field marks to identify the species in 'All plumages', all the pointers to ID the bird in adult and juvenile/immature plumages (at different times of the year) are included. Where relevant you also get key pointers to identify the birds in flight, key behaviour, any key calls or songs, notes on key moult patterns, and other interesting notes that help ID certain species.
It is extremely thorough when dealing with races. For instance, in the superb Collins Bird Guide (2nd edition), one race of Eider is described (mollissima). The Advanced Bird ID Guide describes a further 4 races - Northern Eider (borealis), Dressers Eider (dresseri) a race from North America recently confirmed in Europe, Pacific Eider (v-nigra) a possible vagrant, and a race from Shetland and the Faroes (faroeensis). If you see a slightly strange Hen Harrier and wondered if you have a 'Northern Harrier' from North America, then the information you need is in this book (nothing in Collins Bird Guide). Incredibily it includes information on 3 extra races of Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler! It does state though that 'some individuals are very difficult to identify to subspecies'....I bet they are!
This book would not suit people new to the hobby, they really do need illustrations. However this book is an excellent addition to the modern birders arsenal. Coupled with the Collins Bird Guide (a stunning and beautiful book), the Advanced Bird ID Guide gives european birders all the portable ID information they could wish for. Thanks for author Nils Van Duivendik for putting this together. At just over £10 from Amazon, this has to be the best value bird book of all time. Highly recommended.


Frames + DVD
Frames + DVD
Price: £16.20

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best, 26 July 2009
This review is from: Frames + DVD (Audio CD)
Oceansize are in my opinion the best British band out there at the moment, eclipsing the likes of Muse and Radiohead. The album 'Frames' (the band's third) is such awesome stuff, so awsome in fact that earlier today I played Voorhees, Commemorative...t shirt, Unfamiliar, and Trail of Fire on my way to Cambridge in the car. By the time the incredible finale to Trail of Fire was playing, tears were trickling down my face. Now when music is so bloody good as to do that to you, it doesn't get any better. This is no 'radio friendly' pap, it's just seriously good quality music. And with this package you not only get this amazing album, you also get a DVD of them playing it (minus the bonus track 'Voorhees') in a giant warehouse pretty much note perfect. Anyone into complex heavy rock, this album and DVD package should certainly be checked out.


10,000 Days
10,000 Days
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £10.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible album, 19 May 2009
This review is from: 10,000 Days (Audio CD)
This album is absolutely superb in my opinion, and for me, no other band around at the moment can match Tool for the sheer quality of their music. Their last three albums(Aenima, Lateralus, and 10,000 Days), include tracks that are on a higher level than practically anything by any other band!
They always begin with a superb track, and 'Vicarious' is possibly the best opener to any album I've heard - it is just incredible! Everything you could want in a Metal track, all wrapped up in 7 minutes. Other tracks that are absolute stand outs are (the must be heard to be believed) 'Rosetta Stoned', and 10,000 Days, which builds up into a stunning musical passage, which is so damned good I haven't got the words to describe it!
They are the highlights for me, but 'Right in Two', 'The Pot' and 'Jambi' are not far behind.
If you like Metal I strongly advise you to listen to this album. It might take a while to fully appreciate (I've been listening to it constantly for 3 years), but I doubt you'll be disappointed.


Jethro Tull - Passion Flute [DVD]
Jethro Tull - Passion Flute [DVD]

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very poor effort, 5 Dec. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This has to be the worst music DVD I've ever seen - and I'm a big fan of this band! Poor picture and sound quality, terrible editing (including heads chopped off), no menu at the start, cheap packaging with no booklet - just a disc. Only really like a bootleg so avoid at all costs.


Jethro Tull - Their Fully Authorised Story - Classic Artists [DVD]
Jethro Tull - Their Fully Authorised Story - Classic Artists [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jethro Tull

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A 'must have' for Tull fans, 29 Jun. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When I saw this advertised a couple of months before the release date, I could hardly believe it. Over 3 hours devoted to a history of Jethro Tull on 2 discs! I had visions of all that great footage on You Tube appearing somewhere in the story - a last, footage from the Minstrel in the Gallery and Stormwatch tours. Well, sadly, we are still waiting, but this DVD package is an essential purchase if you are a Tull fan.
First of all, the packaging. I have to say that the design is spot on - the perfect image of Ian Anderson in all his codpieced glory! There is a booklet inside with retrospectives from Anderson and surprisingly Jeffrey Hammond Hammond. The overall design of this booklet is also excellent. I was disappointed though on how the 2 discs clip in the case - I always think I'll break one of them.
Now to the content. Disc 1 is a history of the band as told by many of the previous members, and management. This is absolutely absorbing stuff. Mainly interviews with clips of the band through the years (no full tracks), and perhaps the most surprising inclusion are the contributions from Dee Palmer. The price of the DVD is worth it for these interviews alone, but it was so gripping that I was disappointed when they skipped over a period in the late 70's, and then all too soon ended the main discussion after Crest of a Knave! Why couldn't they bring us completely up to date by continuing the discussion in the same way up to the present? This is the reason for only 4 stars, I felt an opportunity missed there.
On disc 2 we have an amazing documentary of the band on the road in 1969. We even get to meet Ian Anderson's mum and dad! Again this is absorbing stuff, watch out for the yougsters in the audience shaking their heads about at the end - great stuff! Also on this disc are a selection of photos of the band and other memorabilia like letters, tour posters etc.
To sum up, if you are a fan of Jethro Tull, there is more than enough on these discs to make the purchase worthwhile. We have been spoiled for Tull DVD releases recently, but are desperate for good quality concert footage from the 1970's. Can we start with the BBC documentary and Old Grey Whistle Test Live gig from Madison Square Garden on the next release please?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 3, 2008 10:11 AM BST


Stormwatch
Stormwatch

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tull at their peak, 10 April 2008
This review is from: Stormwatch (Audio CD)
I have been listening to Jethro Tull regularly over the last 30 years, and have to say I like most of their massive back cataloge. If I was to pick one album though as 'the best Tull sound' it would have to be this stunner. Production, instrumentation and orchestration (to my ears) are superb. I have read much about Stormwatch, and I'm constantly surprised and disappointed at the bad press it generally gets - in my opinion hugely undeserved. It is such an underated album. I was fortunate to see this great line up on the Stormwatch tour, just two days before it broke up, and I remember sitting in the audience open mouthed in awe at the show in front of me! No other band has had that effect on me since. Back to the album, my personal favourite track is probably 'Flying Dutchman' atmospheric Scottish sounding with beautifull flute and mandolin and of course John Glascock's bass, but every track (original album) is wonderful. Other absolute stand outs are 'Old Ghosts' with it's brilliant baseline, 'Dark Ages' a 9 minute monster which I think contains the best sounding Tull rock passage from their entire cataloge (second guitar break), 'Home', as warm as sitting by the fire in your favourite slippers, 'Dun Ringill', most peoples favourite from this album, a beautiful acoustic piece, which indeed always transports me to the west coast of Scotland, and 'Orion', with it's infectious chorus. This also of course was the last album by Tull that included the amazing Barrimore Barlow on drums, plus John Evans, John Glascock and David Palmer. Such a shame that John Glascock died soon after this album was released, he only played on three tracks (Orion, Flying Dutchman and Elegy). Such a shame we couldn't have experienced another album with this band line up. Best of the bonus tracks is 'Kelpie', but the quality of the bonus tracks are not on the same level as the original album. So to sum up, I think out of the many great Jethro Tull albums (most of which indeed were from the 1970's) this one sits on top of the pile. Just compare the overall rich sound and incredible musicianship of this one with the others. Also check out these Tull albums: 'Thick as a Brick', 'Passion Play', 'Minstrel in the Gallery', Live-Bursting Out', 'Benefit', 'Broadsword', 'Heavy Horses' and 'Stand Up'.


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