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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Package that gets the Sounds of Birds in your Head.
This is an impressive looking book in its own right, but of course what strikes you immediately on picking it up, is the addition of the sound module as an integral part of the whole package - attached quite firmly to the hardback cover, which is extended for this purpose.

I can see downsides and upsides to the arrangement and how much importance you place on...
Published on 2 May 2012 by Bruce

versus
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful photos, but let down by audio
This is a really lovely idea, for anyone who is interested in birdsong and would like to learn the sounds made by birds in Britain and Ireland. It's a nice thick book with big (nearly A4, but wider) pages and with a full-paged size colour photo of every bird. There is a key reference, so if you want to hear what a particular bird sounds like, you enter the code and -...
Published on 21 April 2012 by MousieTongue's KM


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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Package that gets the Sounds of Birds in your Head., 2 May 2012
By 
Bruce "from Brighton" (UK - England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Birdsong: 150 British and Irish birds and their amazing sounds (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an impressive looking book in its own right, but of course what strikes you immediately on picking it up, is the addition of the sound module as an integral part of the whole package - attached quite firmly to the hardback cover, which is extended for this purpose.

I can see downsides and upsides to the arrangement and how much importance you place on these, will determine whether or not you think this is a good idea and worth buying/owning.

On the negative side, you might think that it would be better to have a book, with a CD of numbered birdsongs, so you can have higher sound quality and the flexibility to use the book on its own, or in combination.

For example - this book : RSPB Complete Birds of Britain and Europe is of a similar size, has wonderful illustrations/diagrams and includes a 70 minute CD of Birdsong. If you are looking for a more comprehensive guide, then this may be the better option.

However, I can also see how the sound module package works well and this book concentrates on "Birdsong", rather than just being a guide to birds. The sound module is not up to CD quality, but it is certainly good enough to recognise each bird's distinctive voice and sounds. There are 184 sound samples which are easily accessed using the conveniently-placed controls and with the book on your lap, it is very easy to navigate the different numbered samples and match then with the page at which you are looking.

It is in fact a very enjoyable experience in practice and having the two aspects conveniently combined in front of you, without requiring access to any other medium, makes you more likely to browse and use this book. Each bird gets large photographs and a page of descriptive text. I found myself picking and choosing, to familiarise myself with the birds I am likely to come across and having the audio handy, allows you to easily repeat calls and songs so that you get them fixed in your head and associated with the bird in question.

If you rely on a CD - then this means using a remote and it's not so easy to find and repeat particular tracks. A lot of CD players don't cope well with hundreds of tracks. Some people might not have their CD player conveniently located or even own one - so this is for you.

Also - you can take this book out in the garden and sit there comparing. OK - it's quite a heavy and cumbersome book, which you won't want to put in a rucksack and take to the countryside. But it certainly can be taken into your garden or local park and used there.

Overall an enjoyable and useful book. I found that using this helped me get birdsong fixed in my head, in a way that had not happened previously. The ability to easily repeat calls while browsing the book, is certainly a big selling point. However, if you would prefer to hear Birdsong in the highest sound quality, then it isn't for you
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful, 21 April 2012
By 
Steampunk "JS" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Birdsong: 150 British and Irish birds and their amazing sounds (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Length:: 1:01 Mins

I've tried to make a short video to show you what you get when you buy this beautiful hardback book.

It's such an obvious idea that I can't imagine why no one came up with it sooner - essentially, it's a book with photos and information about 150 common British birds, but with a clever bonus - at the top of each page there are one or more three-digit codes. By entering this code into the integral player, you can actually hear the song(s) of the bird that interests you.

The player is powered by three AAA batteries (included!) which should last a long time, and can very easily be replaced if necessary.

Everyone who's seen our copy has loved it - even *I* love it, and I'm not a bird-watcher by any stretch of the imagination. But I've already been able to identify several of the bird-songs I hear in my garden each morning!

I received this book free, for review purposes, but having seen and handled it, it's one I personally would have been happy to pay the full rate for.

VERY highly recommended.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvellous idea beautifully executed., 21 April 2012
By 
Benjamin (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Birdsong: 150 British and Irish birds and their amazing sounds (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
After a very brief introduction which includes among other things the purpose of bird song and an explanation of bird plumage, this book gets straight down to business looking at each bird individually. Most entries are allocated a page with a half page photograph of the bird and half page of descriptive text, in a good number of cases the entry covers a double page with a full page photograph and a page of text along with an additional small illustration. The very readable text includes a description of the bird's appearance, its song and its habitat. The photographs are of a good standard, typically with the bird shown clearly against an out of focus background; all pictures are in full colour.

Then we come to real point of this publication. Across the top of each page is one or more brief titles: call, alarm call, song, warning call, wing sound etc, and then there is one or more numbers. To the right of the book and as an extension to the back cover is the player. By entering the appropriate number on the small LCD screen and pressing the play button one hears the chosen bird sound; and the sound quality is quite good considering the size of the set up.

This really is a delight, the book alone is well worth having for its lucid text and fine photographs, but to have the bird songs and sounds so easily at hand is a small wonder. In the past I have bought CDs of bird song, but they have never proved satisfactory mainly because it was always so difficult to tie the song to the correct bird, with this there is no question about that, and you have the page with the photograph and text right in front of you too - you can readily associate sound with the bird.

There are 150 birds catalogued here, from the common garden birds to those more rarely, and perhaps for many of us in reality, possibly never encountered.

This is a substantial publication, a quite heavy book measuring 28cm or 11" square and with a sturdy hard cover. The player fits neatly down the side of the book, and comes complete with three AAA batteries. Altogether a marvellous idea beautifully executed.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful photos, but let down by audio, 21 April 2012
By 
MousieTongue's KM (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Birdsong: 150 British and Irish birds and their amazing sounds (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a really lovely idea, for anyone who is interested in birdsong and would like to learn the sounds made by birds in Britain and Ireland. It's a nice thick book with big (nearly A4, but wider) pages and with a full-paged size colour photo of every bird. There is a key reference, so if you want to hear what a particular bird sounds like, you enter the code and - voila! - a recording of the bird plays.

So far so good. However, the audio is restricted to a resoundingly lo-fi speaker built into the book itself. Ie, the sound quality is poor. Part of the reason some of us want to learn about birds is because the bird song sounds so beautiful. Not so on the cheap, nasty plastic speaker integrated with the book. It would have been a good idea to include a CD (high fidelity), so that people could listen to the birds on high (or even medium!) quality speakers if they wish.

This is the sort of book that will end up in bargain book basements in a few years' time - precisely because of this poor sound quality, which will put off a large proportion of its intended audience. It's a nice idea, but disappointing that the manufacturers didn't consider sound quality to be an important consideration for their customers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual gift, 23 Jun 2013
By 
Flaco "flacolito" (Maidstone, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Birdsong: 150 British and Irish birds and their amazing sounds (Hardcover)
You could be forgiven for thinking this book format seems a bit 'gimmicky', but it really isn't; it's a lovely hardback item, with lots of great photographs and written info on each bird. The audio content for each bird is basically a bonus, but it brings the book to life. Excellent idea.

Our neighbour has rescue animals brought to her all the time. Recently someone gave her some very young chicks which had fallen out of a tree nest in high winds. She had no idea what species the chicks were, but they simply would not gape for her when she tried feeding them. She suspected they were finches, so she used this book to go through some of the songs, played the Goldfinch call and hey presto! Unfortunately for her that meant a punishing routine of feeding and cleaning every hour...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect book for the novice, 8 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Birdsong: 150 British and Irish birds and their amazing sounds (Hardcover)
This book is an excellent guide, and heaven-sent for the amateur observer who is perplexed by bird sounds described as tchk-tchk-pwee or whatever. The player itself is easy to use, though not especially loud, and one rapidly becomes adept at moving through the numbers by which the birdsongs are dialled up: the sound quality is perfectly adequate for its task. Sensibly, the player is designed to shut down after 30 secs of non-use so as to avoid battery wastage.

The book is far more than a mere token accompaniment to the player. It is robustly bound, printed on fine quality paper, and contains superb colour photos of all the species included, together with some drawings (to distinguish male and female, for example, or show the bird in flight). The notes, though fairly brief, are wonderfully informative - on songs and calls, of course, but also about size, habitat, migration, diet, and any distinctive characteristics. There is a helpful general introduction at the start, and an index and bibliography at the end. The 150 species represented seem to include all those that the average observer is likely to encounter in the British Isles.

This is too weighty a tome for use in the field, and in any case the reader is quite rightly requested not to use the player where it might confuse the real songsters. But, for those wishing to learn to distinguish birds by their songs and calls, this book is superb value and of coffee-table quality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to recognise different types of bird from quite a long way away, 26 April 2012
By 
E. L. Wisty "World Domination League" (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Birdsong: 150 British and Irish birds and their amazing sounds (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A 'twitcher' friend of mine jocularly remarks that when it comes to bird identification, what you really need is a book of birds' arses, because they're always flying away from you. Joking aside, for many birds your best bet for identifying is to be able to recognise the calls because often you'll never get to see them very well if at all.

There are plenty of audio resources around - for example I have British Bird Sounds on CD: The Definitive Audio Guide to Birds in Britain - but I suspect that there are not many guides like this one combining birds sounds with photography and substantial text.

The photography is truly excellent - personal favourites include the kingfisher about to plunge into a river, and a barn owl in flight. The text accompanying the entry for each species provides substantial further information on identification via appearance, behaviour and so on, as well as more general information such as habitat and feeding habits.

And then - the unique selling point of this book - there's the attached player, powered by 3 AAA batteries. Select a track number using the back/forward controls (it scrolls through track numbers quite rapidly) and press play. Many birds have two or three tracks - song & calls. The downside is that many of the tracks are rather on the short side.

One annoyance is that the index only contains a bird-to-page-number lookup, but not a bird-to-soundtrack-number lookup, so you have to do a double lookup in that case. Unbelievable that they haven't provided this.

I'm definitely glad to have this though, but I'm also pleased that I already have the aforementioned CDs with longer sound samples.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A coffee table book to listen to!, 13 May 2012
By 
C. Hawkes "Livefats" (Lancashire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Birdsong: 150 British and Irish birds and their amazing sounds (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
First a confession: I ordered this because I thought it was a CD of birdsong that I could add to my iPod for field id. Imagine my surprise then when a largish book appeared on my doorstep. This is certainly not a field guide (and nor is it advertised as such - the error was all mine.)

So you might assume that having ordered this in error, my 5 stars rating suggests I was bowled over by the book. And I was.

Of course, 150 birds will never be a definitive list. However, they have been sensibly selected to cover our most frequent sitings - and of course, listenings! Like (I suspect) many novice but keen birders, I have often struggled to match song to bird, and have relied on more experienced birders to point out the redstarts singing behind me whilst my scope is trained in completely the wrong direction! So this book has served to close the gap between my visual and aural id skills a little.

So to the book. All 150 species are described in clear well-written prose, and accompanied by a stunning photograph by Jan Pedersen. The call or song is heard by selecting the call number at the top right of page (some species have mire than one track, helpfully.) The recording quality is surprisingly good; the player (which is intergral to the book) is powered by 3 AAA batteries - I have yet to run them down.

I am sure this book has made me a better birder. An unexpected 5 stars from me, and a well-earned place on my coffee table for he book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Press the button, hear the bird, 18 Jan 2013
By 
Gareth Smyth "Enjilos" (County Mayo, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Birdsong: 150 British and Irish birds and their amazing sounds (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Pretty good sound (could be better on CD sure, but wouldn't that be a bit fiddly? I guess the publishers could have included a CD as well as the inbuilt speaker, this isn't a cheap book, is it?).

Here you just press a button and hear the bird), an obvious idea really, and very good photographs, plus explanations of the basics of identifying different birds, grouped into kinds. A bulky book, but kinda nice to have around.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Coffee Table Guide, 13 Jan 2013
By 
Wiltshire Bookworm (Chippenham) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Birdsong: 150 British and Irish birds and their amazing sounds (Hardcover)
Birdsong is a lavish coffee table sized book, which features 150 British and Irish birds. Its USP is the incorporation of a speaker, so that the reader can also hear the bird they're looking at. This means the guide can be used for identification on two levels, so I was intrigued to see how well this book would help with my identification skills.

The contents are mainly divided into bird groupings as you'd usually expect e.g. wildfowl, waders, owls etc. These are prefaced with a brief introduction to birdsong, the key words used to describe birds (along the usual scientific terms lines) and how to operate the birdsong player. At the back of the book are useful lists of further references, bird sound websites and birding organisations.

The birdsong player is simple to use, though the call you'd like to hear can only be obtained by going through the calls available sequentially (either forwards or backwards) like you would have done on tape recorders of old. There's no way of selecting by the reference numbers given on the bird description pages. I was relieved to see it's possible to change the batteries once those supplied with the book have died.

Most of the book is devoted to the birds themselves. Each species has a double page spread, consisting of a photograph (whole page), followed by the descriptive text. This also has a colour drawing accompanying the common and Latin name titles. The top of the page shows the bird grouping along with the all important recording reference(s) - some birds like the Mute Swan merit more than one, both wing sound and call in this instance.

The book part oozes quality. The photography is superb, the drawings are great and the descriptions are well written. It's a shame the recording part - which is the book's USP - looks like a cheap add-on (though it probably isn't). The speaker quality isn't that great and in some cases the birdsong recording used isn't very long. As a practical guide it doesn't really stack up - there are no illustrations showing male/female or adult/juvenile differences where appropriate. This means many of the birds we actually see can only be identified using this book if they're an adult male or if their call is heard! It's also quite a large book - too unwieldy for taking out into the field to many of the habitats where the birds are found.

Therefore I'm reluctantly placing this book on the 'not for keeping' pile, despite its glossy coffee table good looks. I'll be making do with my Birds of Britain and Europe (New Generation Guides), plus my Collins Field Guide: Bird Call Identification (with Audio-CD) and the RSPB's bird identifier website. The latter has a great birdsong feature which makes me think that the time for this book has passed. The future has to be a bird identification App for phones and tablets incorporating Birdsong's features and more.

I see my evaluation differs from many of the reviewers and the birding/nature magazine reviews, but I stand by it in terms of whether the book is a practical guide and how it compares with the bird identification resources I usually use. It's beautiful to look at, but not very practical to use, except perhaps from my armchair.
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Birdsong: 150 British and Irish birds and their amazing sounds
Birdsong: 150 British and Irish birds and their amazing sounds by Jan Pedersen (Hardcover - 29 Mar 2012)
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