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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proabably the best bird guide in the world
If you looking for a guide to help identify the birds you will see in Britain or Western Europe this is it.
***Buy this book before you consider buying any other bird guide***
Why?
Firstly you should never buy a bird guide that uses just photographs to show the birds. Take my word for it they will never in one photograph be able to show perfectly every...
Published on 9 July 2007 by 24/7 Birds

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For field identification buy something else.
This is a beautiful book in hardback, lovely print, paper, etc., but really only for the serious enthusiast.Too many illustrations, many far too small, and the maps are so small they are less than useless. One for your bookshelf, not for use in the field.
Published 16 months ago by Michael Harling


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second edition with some fine additions., 17 Feb 2010
By 
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This review is from: Collins Bird Guide (Hardcover)
The long awaited second edition of this excellent field guide is finally here. Improving on the world's best bird field guide is almost certainly a task that will disappoint a few. However the authors and illustrators are to be commended for their achievement. Despite an addition of almost fifty pages, compared to the first edition, this is still a very field-worthy book. The text, range maps, and many illustrations have been throughly revised and updated. Particularly noteworthy are the many new owl illustrations, and the page of "Atlantic" pigeons. Many "new" species have been added due to splits from previous subspecies. Thus, many island races from the Canary Islands are now full species. Some taxonomic groups got a particular revision, such as the wheatears and the "Herring Gull complex". The treatment of the latter has been expanded from less than a double page to three full spreads. With Caspian Gull being fully illustrated in various plumages, for example. The taxonomic sequence got some changes in the first parts of the book, with geese and ducks now at the front. The same confusing fashion as in field guides of North America and many other areas of the world. There is actually no need for a field guide to follow the latest taxonomic insights. Rather, there needs to be a sequence that allows for quickly finding a group of birds. And that would be best served if the basic sequence were kept constant.

Unfortunately, non-native species got a rather worse coverage than in the first edition. Some were relegated to the back of the book such as the locally well established Wood Duck and Mandarin Duck. And even for the European native Ruddy Shelduck, the range presumably due to human releases is not shown on the map. Personally, I consider such omissions a lack of recognizing reality. The same problems, unfortunately, are found in such leading works as the Handbook of the Birds of the World, and likewise for the mammal equivalent.

A welcome change in the range maps is the use of more detailed regional maps for very localised species. Despite the time span of about ten years since the first edition, and the repeated postponement in the publication of this edition for about two years, it seems that there must have been a certain rush at the end. Thus, there are relatively many typos or other minor oversights. No big thing, but somewhat of a bother nevertheless. Hopefully, a large part will be corrected in a later printing.

Despite the various points I have criticized here, the book fully merits its five stars. It is just SO good! However, if you already own the first edition, you might want to wait for a later printing that should not be that far in the future.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for the seasoned bird-watcher, 31 Jan 2001
By A Customer
The original version of this book is good but the larger print version is even better. The diagrams are first class. Overall a first rate reference book to have at home to check on those birds you are still unsure of after reviewing your field guide. The section on gulls shows the different appearances of first winter gulls, second winter etc., something most field guides omit. The size of the book prohibits it being taken into the field but is ideal for those cold dark winter nights when the repeats are on telly.
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155 of 167 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but not quite the definitive guide., 20 May 2001
By A Customer
Much attention and comment has been focused on this book since its original publication in hardback, and deservedly so. As stated in The Times review, it most probably is 'the richest and most comprehensive of the current guides'. Just holding the book and looking at the cover, you get the impression that the publishers had every confidence that this book would sweep away the competition, and wanted to display it that way. The front design is striking - jet black, with bold, shining, gold and white upper-case text - 'BIRD GUIDE' - the image of a barn owl on silent wings and the proclamation of 'the most complete field guide to the birds of Britain and Europe' adding to the effect. The book seems to scowl 'Buy me, I'm brilliant and I'm the best!'. Clever, yet the appearance is strangely unwelcoming and almost intimidating.
Does it live up to the hype? The earlier 'Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe' with Bertel Brunn is a landmark, a classic book that had everything right - perfect illustrations, clear and unambiguous descriptions. Has this continued in that vein? Well, yes and no. By-and-large, the contents are excellent. Extraordinary works of art show the appearance of each species, immaculate, stunning and intimate in their detail. This, coupled with perfectly clear and in-depth descriptions of form, plumage, song and flight, provides a wonderful guide to the identification of even the most easily confused species. For the size of the book, everything has had to be crammed in, and the visual 'feel' is of slight overcrowding - but this is unavoidable if you want a book this informative and descriptive for field use. The major fault is that for some species, some distribution maps contain inaccuracies. Examples - the cormorant breeds quite happily along most of the Irish coast and on lakes in the midlands, yet the relevant map wrongly indicates it is only a winter visitor to most of the coast, and a resident only in pockets. The map for the yellow wagtail shows it as absent from Ireland and Wales, though it is not. Also, the nightjar breeds in parts of the Algarve, yet is only shown as a passage visitor to the region. I have spotted several more examples relating to Ireland, Portugal and Italy which makes me wonder if other maps are unreliable for other countries. This is a real dissapointment for what otherwise is a very fine book, and could cause confusion for learners and those hoping to use this book while travelling - defeating the purpose of a field guide.
If these errors could be corrected, this book would be the definitve guide to Europe's birds.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very handy and helpful, 26 Mar 2002
I imagine this book being of help to the varying degrees of peoples interest in our winged friends.
The text is a little small but this can be viewed as a positive by allowing the writers/publishers to cram more in...
If you are looking for a bird book, this is the one to go for, simple as that.
It's neat, well set out, very thorough, excellent diagrams and it's a good size for pocket or backpack.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. Just one or two small faults, 14 Feb 2010
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This review is from: Collins Bird Guide (Hardcover)
This review relates to the second edition, which I've been using now for about a month. I already have three copies of the first edition. This edition follows the winning format of the first. Distribution maps are updated. Personally, I find these are rather small, the whole of Europe and North Africa being shown about the size of a postage stamp. New species are shown as a result of splitting a previous species. Users of the first edition will find an old friend in this guide which was largely regarded as the best field guide for Europe. The notes on identification are invaluable when trying to distinguish similar species. Several different plumages are shown covering different seasons.

All commonly seen species are covered and there are also notes on rare vagrants and occasional visitors.

Even though this edition was long awaited and its publication delayed several times, it appears not to have been properly proof-read.

Firstly, the index is not in alphabetical order. For example, the sections on 'herons' and 'harriers' are both split up and out of order.

Secondly, the plates appear incomplete. The illustrations have many useful identification notes with short lines pointing to the part of the illustration referred to. On many of the illustrations the short lines are present but there are no notes associated with them. This leaves you wondering exactly what the authors wanted to draw to your attention!!

These minor niggles apart, this is an excellent guide, probably intended for serious users. However, at its very reasonable price, there is no reason to buy a simpler guide even if you're a beginner or if you have only a passing interest in birds. You won't be disappointed with this first class guide.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Collins Bird Guide 2nd Edition Amazing!, 11 Jan 2010
This review is from: Collins Bird Guide (Hardcover)
I am already an owner of the first edition which has been heavily used whilst out in the field and am very familiar with it's content.

The second edition (which I was lucky enough to get about a week before it's official release date) is no different and in many ways is even better than the original. It is fully revised and up to date and includes lots of new information which adds up to about another 30+ pages overall.

Again the drawings are superb and really do help you with identifying birds in the wild. The descriptions and calls sections for each bird are equally helpful. There is fantastic attention to detail throughout this publication and it is quite literally the only field guide you will ever need for Britain and Europe.

It has definitely been worth the (annoyingly long) wait!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget the rest - THIS IS the best, 22 Aug 2007
By 
I. Burnard (Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Having previously purchased other reference bird books, they just didnt give the reader exactly what you need to positively identify the adults/ juvenile of each species until I came upon this one.

Being a Collins, you expect and get quality, the description and artist drawings of the bird sexes are superb (if a little small) and the added comments to ease identification when in flight vastly surpasses any other book I have seen.

In brief, don't do what I have done and now have a bookshelf of inferior books, just buy THIS ONE and keep it as your main reference source and get a good field guide for being out there.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best guide, 15 Jan 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Collins Bird Guide (Paperback)
I was advised to choose this guide by a very experienced spotter and this proved to be excellent advice. I was worried that the book used drawings rather than photographs but the drawings are of excellent quality and are very realistic. It's very useful to have several different birds on one page for easy comparison. My only criticism would be that the distribution maps are too small to be of detailed use for UK. Otherwise, all round good purchase and would recommend it for novices and experienced bird-watchers alike.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An identification book that WILL improve your birding skills, 27 Oct 1999
This is the identification book I have been searching for since I started birdwatching! The plates are truly superb (although some copies are a bit pale). Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they are complete in their approach, from eclipse drakes to all the morths of raptors. I particularly liked the little vignettes of birds in their habitat especially when compared to similar species. The text is good, the description of the various songs and calls I found really useful. The book is heavy, I've splashed out £15 on a special bum bag to tote it around with me wherever I go. It is a joy to read, I dip into it all the time .Buy two copies, one to carry around and one to keep pristine at home.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcomed addition to your collection., 12 Aug 2004
By A Customer
This book would be a welcomed addition to any birders collection. The illustrated pictures are clear (but a little to small). The text size is small and the maps are almost impossible to make out. Saying that I use it often and it does come in useful due to the pictures being so clear and well drawn. Everything is crammed in to this small book, so that is why the text, maps and pics are so tiny.
As far as I know there is a larger version of this book available, so if you have problems with your eyesight you should purchase that one instead.
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Collins Bird Guide
Collins Bird Guide by Peter J. Grant (Paperback - 4 Mar 2010)
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