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Kuzey Cem Kulaçolu "bird lover of turkey" (Ankara, Turkey)

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Robins and Chats (Helm Identification Guides)
Robins and Chats (Helm Identification Guides)
by Peter Clement
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £54.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My personal favourite parts, namely the field identification, 24 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Robins and Chats is the latest Helm monograph in which c.170 species of passerines colloquially known as robins and chats. Most of the species in the guide belong to the subfamilies Saxicolinae and Erithacinae of the family Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers), however as the systematics of this particular group of birds are partially unresolved and the book itself took 25 years to complete, in the midst of taxonomic advancement, some inconsistencies are present, e.g. some species from the subfamily Muscicapinae, such as scrub robins, magpie robins and shamas, and, to a lesser extent, species from a closely related but different family Turdidae (Thrushes), such as bluebirds, cochoas and Fruithunter are included. Some birds in Saxicolinae, e.g. rock thrushes and Ficedula flycatchers are missing from the book.
Otherwise the scope of the book is intact with shortwings, alethes, akalats, robins, nightingales, rubythroats, bush robins, robin-chats, palm thrushes, redstarts, forktails, stonechats, wheatears, anteater chats, cliff chats etc.
The book begins with a general introduction about "robins and chats", including their general appearance, behaviour, breeding biology, movements, taxonomy and so on. Then the scope and layout of the book is discussed with reference to sections in each species account. A chapter by Per Alstrom goes into detail about systematics of the species included. It is quite weird (at least in my point of view) that the systematics used in this book and that explained by Alström are quite different from each other. Alström acknowledges how cochas, bluebirds, scrub robins etc. do not actually "belong" in this book or how Ficedula flycatchers are actually chats etc. Yet the book included these, presenting a non-monophyletic group.
The book has 62 magnificent colours plates by Chris Rose, which included most field-identifiable plumages including different ages, sexes and subspecies. My favourites includes the Bluethroat, White-throated Robin, Red-flanked Bluetail, nightingales, rubythroats and wheatears. The pages opposite to the plates also give a brief introduction about the species and summary of the plumages illustrated. Each page has about 1-3 species.
Then comes the meat of the book, the species account. They are certainly very comprehensive and include other/alternate names, introduction, field identification, similar species, voice, habitat, behaviour, breeding, status and distribution, movements, description, moult, measurements, and, where needed, geographical variation and taxonomy. I have been informed about some errors on moult section, but I don't really care much about moult so I wouldn't notice them anyway. My personal favourite parts, namely the field identification, description, g. variation and taxonomy, as far as I have seen, are very accurate and detailed. So I am very happy with the species accounts. However I should note that this book doesn't include every single piece of information on Earth about a species, especially in less information related sections such as movements or breeding.
The main letdown of this book was the photos. Not only are they very small, they are very limited, do not show enough plumage variation for most cases, and again, as far as I've been informed, have some errors on ageing of the birds. I also expected a short study of the individual in photograph in caption, but the caption is instead very brief and includes only name, age, time, location and photographer.
The maps are quite detailed and accurate and some species have separate maps for breeding/wintering grounds or different ssp groups (i.e. Common Stonechat). However for a group of mainly migratory birds I had expected the passage grounds to be represented in the map as well, not only breeding and wintering grounds.
Some people are displeased with the conservative approach on taxonomy, i.e. retainment of Common Stonechat as one huge species; but I find that reasonable given that a) this book was prepared in 25 years, meaning it obviously can't be completely up to date and b) with so much disagreement on taxonomy nowadays, perhaps the best way is to go conservative until the complexes are better resolved.
In conclusion: very good plates, very good account (with (hopefully) minor errors that only the most careful reader can realise), mediocre photos and a somewhat odd but not disturbing taxonomy/scope.
Very happy with it, a great book to spend time with (not for the faint-hearted beginner, though!).

New Holland European Bird Guide
New Holland European Bird Guide
by Peter H. Barthel
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Guide for All Levels of Birdwatching, 16 July 2012
For years, I have been looking for a field guide that covered a lot of species but had not-that-complicated text and good illustrations. As the time went on by, I finally understood that I couldn't find that kind of a guide in Turkey. So years passed and I had to go with Collins (which at the time was too complicated for me, but now my fav, guide) and Birdwatcher's Pocket Guide by Rob Hume (it was a good book but was a bit basic for my level).

Finally in the May of 2008 me and my family did a touristic trip to England, and I went to a bookstore in Oxford knowing the odds of finding a guide like that were high as England was the birding country of Europe. So I went to the section that was exclusive to ornithology books (never found in Turkey). As I was looking for a small but good-looking guide, my hand slipped over to this one. As I was looking through it's pages, I didn't think that this was the one, but I still bought it.

When we got back to Turkey I had more time to spend time with the stuff I bought and as I looked at this book more carefully I saw that it covered almost all of the breeding and regularly-seen species of Europe, accompanied by very rare vagrants, too. Despite it's text was basic it was good enough for you to ID the species you saw correctly. The illustrations were great, too!

That's when I understood that this was the one. I still use this sometimes, even though I now use mainly Collins, as I know enough English now to clearly understand it.

If you want that kind of guide that I once looked for, "basic but lots of species", this is the one. Hope you enjoy it!

The Birdwatcher's Pocket Guide to Britain and Europe
The Birdwatcher's Pocket Guide to Britain and Europe
by Rob Hume
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for a Beginner or an Intermediate, 16 July 2012
This was one of the first bird guides that I bought. As I was a beginner back then (not even a beginner, I just liked the zoo birds) I didn't know any species except sparrows, doves and crows.

As I read it it really got myself into it. I couldn't believe that there were this many and beatiful birds in Europe. The text, despite it's shortness and basic, covered almost every detail you needed to easily identificate a bird. The illustrations were really awesome, you could see every single feather of a bird in those; and I liked how the artist illustrated the birds' habits, it really got the plates away from the un-natural, "stuffed" look of bird plates.

I also liked the colour coding, it was really helpful to find the bird that I was looking for.

I used this guide many years because it was definitely one of the best guides for beginners and intermediates.

As years passed, I started to learn a lot about birds and I needed a guide that covered more species with more detailed text and illustrations, so I looked for guides like that and I found Collins Bird Guide. That's was the time when this beginner-friendly book slowly got into other bird guides that I rarely used.

Today, as an experienced and near-professional birder, I use Collins Bird Guide, but when I'm bored or get sick of Collins Bird Guide, my first alternative guide is always this one. It has a special place for me. It reminds me of the time when I didn't know anything about the birds in the nature of Europe... It was an excellent guide when I was a beginner.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 20, 2015 5:43 AM GMT

Birds of the Middle East (Helm Field Guides)
Birds of the Middle East (Helm Field Guides)
by Richard Porter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Improved, 16 Sept. 2011
I got this books 1996 edition in 2007, and I loved it. I recently bought the second edition and I have to say that it is very improved and more user-friendly than ever.

Unlike the first edition, text is in front of the plates, which makes stuff much more easier, especially for a beginner. The other difference is that the maps are coloured to show where species breed, winter and/or appear during migration.

Majority of illustrations have changed, including larks, wagtails, majority of gulls, skuas, terns and almost all of waders, and much more! While some of illustrations are more detailed and easy now, some of are not, e.g. illustrations of larks and warblers now being almost gigantic, which covers the whole page.

Over 130 species and subspecies added, which I'm not surprised, it's very normal for a book that first published in 1996.

One of the biggest and hardest change is that the order of species have changed, starting from gamebirds and ending with buntings. I was expecting that it would start with gamebirds and wildfowl (which I was true) but the passerines are messed up too! It starts with shrikes, then crows, tits, larks, warblers, starlings and it goes on like that... I kinda hated this new taxonomic order, but it's obvious that ostriches and kiwis are more related to gamebirds than divers.

Also, some explanations, tips and information about identification, life cycle (...) in gulls, just like Collins Bird Guide.

Overall, the second edition has some kind of more "modern" look. But this doesn't mean it's perfect...

NEGATIVE WAY NUMBER 1- Illustrations are really cool and detailed but I think it could have illustrations about species habits, too, e.g. it could have an illustration of Osprey catching a fish, and it could write below "Oprey catches fish" or something like that. But in here, we only have one illustration of male, one of female, juvenile and an adult or juvenile in flight. Some species don't even have flight illustrations! And there are also lack of sexes and subspecies, e.g. Lapwing appears all year-round in the region, but they only drew the winter plumage. This also happens for subspecies, immatures, females and males.

NEGATIVE WAY NUMBER 2- Text could be better, especially of two very similar species e.g. spotted eagles or common and lesser kestrels, but text is generally OK.

NEGATIVE WAY NUMBER 3- There are no maps for vagrants, so vagrants have a section in text called "Notes" (some breeding, wintering and passage species also has this section, if they are vagrants in somewhere), and it writes about where the species have been accidentally seen. Unfortunately, some of these "notes" are wrong. There are photographs of Lesser Flamingo photographed in Turkey, and this guide still didn't write that it appears as a vagrant in Turkey. Same thing also happens for other species and other countries.

Well, that's all what I'm going to say. It is a vey good field guide, and much improved than 96 edition, but if you have Collins Bird Guide or anything similar to that, you won't need this book much.

Hope I helped.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 19, 2012 3:23 PM BST

Collins Bird Guide
Collins Bird Guide
by Lars Svensson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Field Guide for Birds of Western Palearctic, 6 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Collins Bird Guide (Paperback)
Since its release in 1999, Collins Bird Guide has immediately been recognized as the most comprehensive and up-to-date field guide for the region of Western Palearctic (which in this book includes all of Europe, Africa north of 30N, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel). When I got the first edition back in 2007 it blew my mind how so much identification information and outstanding illustrations could be fit into one volume that could fit in the pocket of your coat.
When I heard about the second edition being released, I immediately bought it as I was certain that improvement have been made over the 10 years that passed. And I wasn't disappointed, as this was one of the most updated and complete 2nd edition I have seen in any field guide.
Let's start with the cover. It is almost identical to the first editions' cover, but instead of a Common Barn Owl there is an Arctic Tern. And the name of late Peter Grant has disappeared. Just like in the first edition, the first few pages are about the contributions made to this book, the region it covers, how to use the maps, illustrations etc., a diagram showing bird anatomy and a glossary of ornithological terms. Then comes the field guide part.
The layout is the same as the first edition; text and maps on the left side and illustrations on the right side. A usual species text has three parts: the introduction, which deals with the birds' length, wingspan, habitat, behaviour, movements and status. A code for Britain is also present here. The second part is about the identification of the bird. This paragraph is especially detailed, with written description of the plumage of almost every imaginable plumage of any sex and age in the region, and distinguishable subspecies when relevant. It is truly amazing how so much identification tips could cover so small space. The third paragraph is about the voice of the bird, in which calls, songs and how they are delivered are described.
Maps are surprisingly accurate (even for small or local areas), and has 4 colours; dark purple for resident, orange for breeding (summer), pale blue for winter and yellow for migration. In some cases main migration routes are shown with yellow lines, too. There are no political borders on the map (which is actually better), but the borders of Western Palearctic and defining rivers, lakes etc. can be seen.
Illustrations are simply out of this world. Both artists were incredibly successful in visually describing each and every plumage of any sex, age and subspecies that could occur in Western Palearctic. There are small indication arrows for important ID points where necessary, too. The plates are also very good in the way that they bring the birds to life. Most field guide illustrations look like dead museum specimens, but the birds in Collins Bird Guide are illustrated in the way that they are lively, and doing what they would typically do when you see them (like an Osprey catching fish, or Asian Desert Warbler tailing a Desert Wheatear) or in their favourite habitats (Wallcreeper on a rocky crevice). This also promotes the logic of not only identifying by plumage, but also habitat and behaviour. Also the early Northern American passerines plates are replaced by Killian Mullarney's.
There are 3 additional sections on the back of the book. The first one contains short descriptions and, in most cases, small illustrations of expectable rare visitors to the region. The second one is a list of very rare vagrants that have occurred in the region only a few times. The list includes their name, origin and known records in the region. The last section is about introduced species that are not native to the area but more like an escapee.
One thing that I really liked in this book is how they really handled some difficult taxonomic complexes. Most of the new species added since the last editions resulted from splits, which include Cackling Goose, Green-winged Teal, White-winged Scoter, Pacific Diver, Yelkouan & Balearic Shearwaters, MacQueen's and Houbara Bustards, American Herring, Armenian & Caspian Gulls, Seebohm's Wheatear, Maghreb Wheatear, Persian Wheatear, Eastern & Western Orphean Warblers, Asian & African Desert Warblers, Isabelline & Olivaceous Warblers, Booted & Sykes's Warblers, Eastern & Western Bonelli's Warblers, Caucasian Mountain, Iberian & Canary Islands Chiffchaff, Green Warbler, Madeiran Firecrest, Taiga & Atlas Flycatchers, African Blue Tit, Iberian Grey, Turkestan Shrikes, Hooded & Carrion Crows. Distinct forms such as Scopoli's Shearwater, Steppe Buzzard, Baltic & Heuglin's Gulls, Balearic Warbler etc. are also described in detail.

Overall this is a very fine book, made by some of the most well-known ornithologists of the regions, with great text and illustrations. My only suggestion for the next edition would be to include the rest of the Western Palearctic (i.e. rest of Egypt, Lybia, Algeria, Western Sahara, Azores, Cape Verdes, Banc d'Arguin, Iraq, northern half of Saudi Arabia etc.). But I can live without them too. I think this is a book that will last for ages.

Just buy it!

Birds of Europe: With North Africa and the Middle East (Helm Field Guides)
Birds of Europe: With North Africa and the Middle East (Helm Field Guides)
by Lars Jonsson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plates Good, Text Eh, 6 Sept. 2011
I got this book in 2010 because I've heard it was a great guide for Western Palearctic. It kinda was, with some positive an negative ways. This review is about the 2006 edition of this book, with the owl.

1-Illustrations are awesome! They look so realistic, I loved them!

1-Though illustrations are good, some of them are misplaced, such as Caucasian and Hazel Grouses having very little illustrations, and they are above text, not front page of text!
2-Another negative thing of illustrations are that, for example, there's a page that includes plates of two species: Dunnock and Alpine Accentor. Lars has illustrated the Dunnock in a bush, but when it comes to Alpine, he has to illustrate it on a mountain, so he cuts two illustrations of certain species with a line, so upper part will be a bush, and other one will be a mountanious area. I guess you don't get what I mean but once you see it, it looks ugly.
3-Some of texts are wrong and misplaced. Some texts are at another page of illustration, just like old generation guides. Also I wouldn't guess that a new generation guide that has a 2006 edition would treat Yellow-legged Gull as "probably a race of herring gull". Shame!
4-Some of distrubution maps are wrong too. e.g. Arctic Skua, it appears in Mediterranean area either, but in here, it only showed that it only appears in Scandinavia and Scotland in Europe. Also, the placing of maps are really bad.

In conclusion, if you look for true and recent information, you don't need it, but for plates, it's perfect.

Hope this was helpful.

The Birds of Turkey (Helm Field Guides)
The Birds of Turkey (Helm Field Guides)
by Geoff Welch
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £50.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT a Field Guide, but a Good Reference, 25 Oct. 2009
It was the dream to have a book exclusively about Turkey. I was really impressed and bought it without even thinking. Quick note: I bought because I thought it was a field guide.

I couldn't be more wrong. It had nothing to do with a field guide. It was in a size of an encyclopedia, and there were no pictures of almost any species but a few, and no paintings at all. It was all about the STATUS of birds in Turkey: taxonomy, distribution, conservation, breeding and records. It didn't say anything about how the bird looked or how it behaved. It was full of old photos showing old birdwatchers, the regions in Turkey, the societies, breeding sites, taxonomy and all those non-field guide stuff.

But on the other hand, as a reference about status of Turkish birds, it was fairly good.

To conclude, I was really dissappointed that it was not a field guide, but then I saw that it was a good reference, I know read it at home to learn more about Turkish birds.

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