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on 10 August 2010
Collins Bird Songs and Calls
Geoff Sample
Collins. 2010.
3 CDs (3 hours 30 mins), plus 232 page softback book.
£30.00
ISBN 978-0-00-733976-1

Described by the publisher as "a unique beginner's guide to bird song" this set of 3 CDs is a new and improved version of a 2 CD production of the same name that first appeared in 1996 (reviewed in BB 90:109).

With Geoff Sample's familiar and friendly voice-over, the first CD takes the listener on a journey from his house to hear the typical birds in a country garden setting. The recordings are mixed together to give the feeling of a seamless journey from one species to another. The same approach is taken for farmland, hedges and scrub, woodland, heathland and riverside. The second CD takes the same approach for pinewood, moorland, boggy wetlands, reedbeds, lakeside, saltmarsh and rocky coast. The third CD takes groups of species in turn, comparing calls and songs, while providing hints to identify them from each other. Again Geoff Sample's commentary provides easy uncomplicated listening.

Although there are new and better recordings in this set, and extra species have been added, some have also been dropped - such as Bewick's Swan, Hobby and Common Tern. While most regular breeding species are included there are no recordings of Mandarin, Pochard, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Osprey and
Roseate Tern. Among the wintering species an obvious absentee is Water Pipit.

Most people who want a set of birds songs and calls will already possess one of the widely available sets of CDs that cover everything. This production does not set out to compete in that market. Instead this is a tutorial on bird sounds helping the listener to develop a better understanding of what they are hearing. The recordings are clear, mixed in stereo to give a very pleasant image particularly on headphones. Geoff Sample's informal and chatty commentary adds value to the recordings without becoming intrusive.

The accompanying book discusses all aspects of the purpose of bird song and our appreciation of it over the ages. A short text is given for each of the main UK species describing their vocalisations and indicating the months in which they are best listened for.

Keith Betton
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on 9 May 2012
Like other reviewers I have found this helpful for identifying birds by song, and have had myself corrected over a chaffinch vs a yellow hammer! What I think I would have preferred is for slight breaks between each bird, and the speaker to say upfront which bird is about to be demonstrated, rather than which has just been demonstrated.
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on 7 April 2011
Collins Bird Songs and Calls (Book & CD)
What an excellent package this is for novice bird song spotters. 3 audio CDs with bird songs and calls in categories (garden, countryside etc). you get to hear the song then you are told what it is and what time of year to expect it. also a great book that explains everything in detail.
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on 10 November 2014
I think most birders seek an infallible quick guide to learning bird song for id purposes. This isn't it. The CDs although well recorded become just a curiosity. The accompanying book is really very scant in detail and is bound in a manner that makes you think its back will break when you open in.
Definitely not a companion to the Collins field guide.
The DVD sets by Paul Doherty are a far better source of bird call information.
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on 18 October 2014
A first class package. The recording are wonderfully evocative and the balance between explanatory text and bird song and calls is just right. So the first two CD's are almost like bird walks, listening to collections of birds, often more than one at once like the raven and peregrine together. So what is not is clinical call by call, song by song encyclopaedia of bird song. What it does brilliantly is to put the songs and calls in context. The recordings are much longer in many instances than other products so with blackcap vs garden warbler there is enough of it to hear the difference. The last CD deals in details with difficult issues like the latter and focusses on bird calls which are the much more advanced and difficult area to make a diagnostic identification. As a person who gets "everything", this had a lot to teach me and made a valuable addition to all the other guides.
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on 24 February 2011
If each track was labelled on the dvd with the name of the bird calling I would have given 5 star s .I have inputted them all manually so I can listen in the field on my phone and find tracks easily to aid identification .otherwise a beautiful package .
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on 25 August 2011
This is a great CD and book of birdsongs. I loaded it onto my mp3 player and listen to it while on my journey to work. I have been getting much better at identifying birds now.
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on 20 July 2011
I have been slowly working through the discs and book over the last few days. I got it because I have just got hearing aids that have given back some of my lost high frequency hearing (an industrial injury) and wanted to relearn bird song. So far have found it useful. However I am not at all happy with the index I feel that it should have included the track number so that you could go straight to it instead of having to look up the species notes to find the track.That said it does seem to be helping me with relearning bird song which I am glad of.
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on 27 October 2014
This was a gift for my mum and she loves it, she says as well as being an incredible resource, it's equally lovely as background noise. However, we were both disappointed that the full colour illustrations don't apply to all the birds in the book, only some of the descriptions have a photo. This is a real shame as it would be nice to see a colour photo for each bird, linking the bird call with how the bird looks makes it much easier to identify birds when out and about.
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on 8 January 2014
This was bought as a gift and have been told by the recipient that it is an excellent guide for both beginner and more experienced birdwatchers. The book was purchased through Amazon and it proved to be cheaper than buying direcdt from the suppler as it was delivered free of charge!
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