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4.8 out of 5 stars527
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 9 July 2007
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***
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 feature required for correct id or capture colour variations accurately. The illustrations in this book show every detail perfectly, highlighting the relevant features, showing similar species together, covering male/female/juvenile plumages where necessary and importantly in accurate colour.
2, The descriptions are superb, every distinguishing plumage or vocal detail covered, telling you exactly what you need to know.
3, Useful detail is given about the status of the species, whether it is resident, a migratory visitor or a rare vagrant.
4, Maps showing likely range of each bird are shown, including colour detail that shows whether it is likely to be present all-year, winter or summer.
In summary this is a monumental effort by the authors to create the perfect bird guide in book form. As the owner of dozens of bird guides, I can say this is as close as I have seen.
I repeat, you should buy this before buying any other Bird Guide.
A copy of this book and a good audio guide to songs and calls is all you should need to identify the vast majority of birds you will see in the area covered by it.
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on 31 August 2007
In short - if you want an identification guide to European birds this is easily the best available to date.

On the cover it says 'The most complete field guide to the birds of Britain and Europe' and (at least at the present time) this is certainly true. The book is a little large to fit in most pockets - but all birdwatchers should be encouraged to carry a field notebook anyway (leave this book in the car, or at home or your hotel!) - if you do want to carry a guide with you it will fit in some large coat pockets, or easily into a backpack.

The illustrations, which are on the page facing the text and maps for each species, are excellent and show the birds in a variety of different positions (often including in flight), and illustrate all of the different plumages that are likely to be encountered. Important features are highlighted on the ilustrations by means of text captions and pointers.

The text is concise and contains all the most important information on identification and size, including verbal descriptions of songs and calls (often calls confirm an otherwise uncertain bird identification). Anyone who is not used to bird guides, and the birds themselves, will probably find that the phonetics mean very little - however if you have already heard the species being described they form an accurate reminder.

Anyone who uses a PDA may wish to consider the e-guide version, which has all the ilustrations and information from the book + recordings of the birds songs and calls - personally I find a book and CD (or MP3 files) easier!!
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on 27 July 2004
I bought this book on recommendation from this website.
It is an excellent guide, the drawings are first class.
I am only a part time bird watcher mainly from my kitchen window and the occasional walk in the local wood.
But this book has been invaluable to me.
Buy it you won't be disappointed.
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on 8 October 2006
To me this is the BOOK. Unlike a few I've seen this book is ideal for beginners like myself who although has been interested in bird watching and wild life for years, I decided that this year as I was on Holiday in Norfolk it was perhaps an ideal time to get started. This book I have found is one of the best I have found so far. Now all I need is a good scope to enjoy whats in the book even more.
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on 8 November 2005
This book emerged onto a highly competitive market already burgeoning with numerous field guides, most by renowned authors and many having benefitted from improvement over several editions. Quite simply though, this book won instant recognition as the best field guide available for Europe - and perhaps a model for field guides everywhere. Its authors are well known experts in their field having spent many years studying and publishing on the birds of the region. However, the key to the guide's success is the fact that so much more useful information has been condensed into a guide which is much the same size as existing books. The book boasts excellent illustrations, succinct text and handy maps, all presented on a the same page. Small enough to fit into a pocket and cheap, it is a must for anyone even remotely interested in British or European birds. Don't hesitate!
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on 12 January 2007
Put purely and simply, this is the best bird identification guide I have ancountered. I have many different ones and they all have their charms but for a truly amazing, comprehensive and detailed list of all the birds of Britain and Europe, this wins hands down. The illustrations are beautiful, and incredibly accurate, with details of all plumages (summer/winter/adult/sub-adult/juvenile), and details of sub-species. General behaviour, physical description, and calls and songs are all detailed superbly. I haven't even had this book for 24 hours yet and already I love it - that says quite alot, I think!
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on 7 June 2004
This book has to be the best field guide available. The only guide to rival it is Lars Johnsonn's Birds of Europe (HELM). But unlike that book, every illustration is superb. Johnsonn's illustrations are excellent, some superb, but let down by illustrations of gulls for example. But in this book, every illustration is superb. Buy this book and enjoy it. Only two slight criticisms: the illustrations are small, as is the print. But if you want a portable guide, this is it. Otherwise, there is a larger edition available.
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on 3 October 2006
Since being a child I've been borrowing my dad's weatherbeaten copy of Bertel Bruun's masterpiece, without ever finding an adequate replacement.

This one's finally taken over, crammed with beautiful photos, informative text, and great little touches that make identification easier. There's plenty of extra drawings of species' behaviour to get rid of the unavoidable "stuffed animal" nature of bird plates, and each species has a description of song. There's even an easy to read guide to help you ascertain how common British species are. Yes it's pretty crammed, but all with relevant information, in a book that's deserved to be the new standard for birdwatchers everywhere.

Dad, you can have your book back now.
33 comments|55 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This book is a little large to carry while out and about and I have mentioned one or two other books in my reviews that are better suited to slipping into the pocket when going out for the day. These smaller books are great for getting an ID, then when you return home something like this book will give you even more information about the species you have spotted.

I agree that photographs can be very nice particularly in large format books but a good drawing can give far more detail about juvenile and adult plumage etc. The book also goes into detail with maps about the areas in which the birds are likely to be found, size, habitat etc., in fact virtually everything you need to know about each species.

There are many many excellent bird books about at the moment. New printing techniques and use of lots of colour has improved the books no end, but this is as good as any of them.
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on 17 February 2010
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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