Most helpful positive review
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful plates, great text but difficult in the field.
on 15 September 2000
Robson has taken on the monumentous task first tackled by Ben King thirty years ago; to produce a guide to all the birds of South- East Asia, and he's as good as pulled it off! I used this book on the standard Thai circuit during 4 weeks of early 1999. First of all I would say that the book fails to live up to it's title "A Field Guide......" It should have been designed with use in the field as its prime concern, disappointingly this aspect was not that successful. I left my Rounds Guide to the Birds of Thailand in someones car at Heathrow and that was a mistake. Secondly the lack of distribution maps at all, let alone next to the plates, made the successful identification of unfamiliar birds a slow process, it was my first time to South-East Asia so there were plenty of them! I found having to read distribution notes first very slow and frustrating. Thirdly Robson chose to follow Sibley and Monroe's taxonomy, the rights and wrongs of which are not for this review, however again this slowed down my task of identifing a bird quickly in the field and no one else on our trip was totally familiar with this classification. So why 4 stars? The plates are on the whole superb, particularly Christopher Schmidt's glorious Thrushes,Redstarts and Flycatchers, Stephen Message's Babblers and Scimitar and Wren Babblers and Clive Byers's brilliant Pittas and Laughingthrushes, just look at Spotted and Blue-winged. Hilary Burn's Owls are exquisite. Perhaps as skilfully completed is the scholarly text. Robson is a giant of the South-East Asian birding scene and it shows. The small text in the species accounts is a mine of information, 100% up-to-date and unbelievably detailed making identification of those female Ficedula's an eventual formality. This alone is enough to make it excellent value for money. Dispite my preceding criticism I would say that this book is indispensable on a field trip but is best left in the car, hotel room or tent. It would also come into it's own in the other less visited or well described areas in the region that this book covers where no smaller quicker to use guide exists.If you're going to these facinating lands of almost mythical birds no other guide comes close - buy it.