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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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This book has everything that a lot of other books have and more. It covers all of the species that either breed in Europe or are regular visitors.. The colour photographs of each species are excellent but it the illustrations that make the book stand out from many other similar volumes and the illustrator Peter Hayman, who's work appears in several other bird books, including the Pocket Book of Birds of Prey, is to be commended for his beautiful work. They make identification of each species so much easier and are in many ways superior to a photograph.

The author Rob Hume, has also been involved in writing a number of the better books on birds and has covered just about everything the casual observer, right through to the most avid bird watcher, is ever likely to want to know about the species featured in the book.
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on 23 January 2008
An excellent bird book with beautiful illustrations and photos showing birds from the U.K and Europe, which is great for rare U.K visitors. The included bird songs disk is very helpful and can be played on an i-pod or a PC.

Overall a very highly recommended book. Buy it!
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on 13 April 2008
This is really a great book and you can get good deals on amazon. It really is impressive.Buy it and you will not be sorry.
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on 6 August 2009
I remember when Peter Hayman created the Birdwatcher's Pocket Guide with Mitchell Beazley and the RSPB in 1979. It was immediately popular and became the standard entry-level book for people who wanted a field guide that did not expect them to be very knowledgeable. Similarly I think this book will be popular as a reference work for people who want everything in one place - identification, photos, maps and basic information.

Illustrated throughout with Hayman's distinctive artwork, the book describes the full range of European breeding species but excludes most vagrants. The exception is Ring-billed Gull, although I would also have included Pectoral Sandpiper and Ring-necked Duck.

Each species is depicted on the ground or perched and in flight (often, but not always, from below). Adult and immature plumages are shown in most cases - especially with the non-passerines - and a photograph accompanies every species. There is also close-up detail on tail patterns where this aids identification. Closely-related similar species are briefly mentioned with a small comparison sketch.

A map showing European distribution is included together with a circle (a bit like a clock face) to show which months you can expect to see each bird. Both of these are coloured to indicate to which family the bird belongs. For me this just added a level of unnecessary detail which prevented the maps from showing when a species was in summer or winter range. There are also lots of coded signs to show the habitats in which you can find each bird. Text for each species is a bit brief, but includes information on feeding, display, voice, breeding and migration. Captions to the illustrations are used to convey key identification features, so there is no specific text to describe each bird.

I have a number of concerns with the maps which are a missed opportunity. For example these clearly show Hooded Crow being present throughout the eastern side of England, while Raven (which now is spreading across the south-east) is shown only west of Dorset. Perhaps my expectations on such things are high, but given the care that has been taken to show detailed identification points, I would have hoped a bit more time had been spent on the maps. If you are new to birding you'll be thrown by such things.

Most species get their own page, while some, such as Sardinian Warbler, are afforded a two page spread. Less widespread species such as Marmora's and Balearic Warbler share a page. I think this is a great shame as all the information is mixed up. It also causes errors too. For Collared and Semi-collared Flycatcher the range of the former is mapped while the latter is not. The same is true for Black-eared and Pied Wheatear. Great care has been taken to get the illustrations just right, but I feel that unnecessary economies have been made on some of the supporting data.

So in summary I do think this will be a popular book and at £25 it represents great value for money, particularly with so much data being available as images and notes for your iPod. Recordings of 250 species are included and when you consider the cost of buying these separately the value of this book becomes even greater.
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on 27 February 2010
This book is definitive and if you're a beginner like me or a seasoned bird watcher the detail contained in this book will cover any question or query you might have with recognising and confirming your bird watching. It covers both sexes, adult and young and differant views to aid identification. The bonus is getting the Ipod files to help audio recognition of the bird calls too!
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on 20 July 2010
A heavy weight volume of information with everything you need to know to identify British and European birds. This book is easy to use with masses of information on each bird in a clear format that encourages browsing and doesn't leave me in a muddle or overwhelmed. Nice photos but, the highlight for me, has to be the drawings of male, female, juvenile, 1st winter etc., with the subtle differences clearly noted. Everything in one place!
At Amazon prices it is great value for money especially with the bird song and field guide CD thrown in. Unfortunately, my copy of the bird field guide would not load correctly on my Mac. which was a bit of a disappointment.
Nevertheless, it is still a 5 star book.
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on 3 December 2015
wondeful addition to any birders' library beginners and advanced alike. Exciting layout crammed full of information, was very up to date in year of publication and still is more or less. Brilliant array of images taking in general views details of relevant plumage, similar birds and confusion species in flight pictures altogether make it very helpful. One thing I have to say this a heavy tome , definitely not one to put in your pocket! I love it.
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on 2 December 2015
This has to be the best Bird book ever.. it is beautifully presented with amazing photographs lots of inforationtion silhouettes and great detail it even has an I pod guide . Sadly it appears to be out of print but I managed to find this second hand copy in perfect codition. This is one to treasure.
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on 18 December 2015
A very good second-hand bargain in excellent condition. It really is the "ultimate visual guide" to bird identification. The text is accurate, but doesn't replace a good field guide. Leave this one at home and refer to it there. Some of the distribution maps are inevitably out of date, and no-one needs an iPod app these days.
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on 10 February 2011
Purchased this book for my husband as he is a keen bird watcher. He's spent many evenings poring over it and taking in the detailled bird illustrations. It was a good buy overall and the content seems to be exactly what he needs as he uses it as a reference when he gets home after an excursion.
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