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on 4 February 2006
This is a fantastic reference book for birders of all levels. Lovely colour plates and great descriptive text that will have you drooling. Not a guide for field use though, and you may need to reinforce your bookshelf. For me it was love at first sight.
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on 26 December 2011
3 stars is specifically for the kindle version. I have not had the book long so will take a while to fully assess but seems very comprehensive with more than enough detail for a not very experienced birder such as myself. This was purchased while on holiday in Crete for reference as I had not bought along a field guide. The point about this not being ideal for kindle is well made by a previous reviewer. While the written information is still there much of the picture and map detail is lost when viewing on the current kindle eBook. And this is not a cheap purchase. The kindle fire will serve it better I guess when it comes out in the UK. I bought this knowing that I would be transferring it to iPad and eventually to my laptop via the kindle app so at least I have the pictures in colour. You can also zoom in a little but the effect is blurry. As one would not tend to read this in a linear fashion as you would a novel, navigation is also an issue. Again much easier on the iPad than on the kindle. It is a compromise, no question so you should keep that in mind considering the expense, but it did come in very handy and I may consider buying the hard back version at some point. One point regarding the content which concerns me a little but which may be down to my own lack of experience is the accuracy of some of the distribution maps. For example, certain birds of prey not seemingly occurring in Crete when other local books say that they do, trying to find which green coloured warblers I have seen commonly but none of which seem to be occurring according to the maps, waxwings seemingly not occurring in the UK when plainly they do. Although recently reprinted the book is a few years old now. I wonder if some things have changed in the interim, whether I am missing something or whether some of the information is incorrect. But as I say on the whole the book is tremendously detailed and informative.
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on 13 January 2015
This is about the only e-guide for birds of Western Europe at the moment, and as I wanted some references on my Kindle for birding trips abroad, I stood the expense and downloaded this- although I own the hardback version.
If you are familiar with the book, then you will be aware that the illustrations are of variable quality- the skuas and gulls are fantastic whilst the warblers are rather washed out and insipid looking, though they do not distort that much when enlarged on my tablet. Published in 1998, some parts of this book need updating, especially with regard to taxonomy, although the text is well written, concise and accurate(for the time), though the distribution maps are a little small.
The real problem with this kindle version is that there is no index as such to the species themselves; you must click onto the family, then scroll through the pages until you reach the bird required. The illustrations can be accessed by clicking onto the species name and comparing text with picture is a bind as it is difficult to view each respectively.
The Handbook... is a hefty investment unless you want to carry out the much superior Collins guide around, the latter not seemingly available for the android market just yet and this may never realistically be tenable . Unfortunately, I consider this a compromise really, although the original hardback edition was an excellent book at the time, the Kindle version does not do it justice. Do we all have to own iPads, iPhones and the like merely to get a decent digital download in the UK? The US have some cracking titles that work so well on Kindle that they are a joy to own.
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on 23 December 2014
Please note that this review is for the KINDLE EDITION of 'The Handbook of Bird Identification: For Europe and the Western Palearctic'.
I run a desktop PC under Windows 7 and an iPad Air. A few months ago I bought myself a Surface Pro 3 running Windows 8.1. I have been a birdwatcher for many years and have a number of birding programs on my PC and iPad. As I hadn't got anything worthwhile on my SP3, I thought I would invest in the Kindle Edition of 'The Handbook...'
£40 is a fairly substantial outlay for a bird book, although nowhere near the price of the printed, hard-back edition!

Perhaps like a few of the other reviewers here, I failed to take into account the difference between printed copy and electronic copy as, sadly, this e-book doesn't live up to the quality of the former. In fact, all of the reviewers who gave it 5 stars were referring to the printed version.

(I also happen to own the hardback edition of this book and there is no doubt that it's a great reference source and contains some great colour plates. It is, however, over 800 pages in length and, therefore, combined with its weight, not a 'field' guide!!)

On my PC's 28" monitor, the plates look okay but cannot be enlarged at all, which renders some of the text along side a bird almost unreadable. My iPad, with its retina display, is able to zoom the plate but there is a distinct 'fuzziness' to the overall image.
As for the plates on my SP3, they are just too small to be of any value, especially if one wanted to use it 'in the field'.

Navigation through this product is also a concern and it is rather difficult to drop on the bird you're looking for and then switch back to reading a something about it.

All of the above is a long-winded way of saying that the Kindle edition is a 'straight' copy of the hardback and so does not lend itself to the digital age.

Great book, Poor e-book!
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on 6 December 2006
This book, combined with a good field guide such as the Svensson & Mullarney, is really all you need .... It's my favourite bird book, and I can only HIGHLY RECOMMEND this one !!
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on 16 October 2000
It was my best friend's copy... For some obscure reason, I didn't know the book yet. He laughed at me. I simply choked! Best plates, best texts, best overall presentation! ... I had no idea a book like this could be bought by such a outrageous low price!
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on 5 August 2009
This is a first class work of awesome detail right down to indentification of races like Caspian Gull versus Yellow Legged Gull, Iberian Chifchaff etc. Not necessarily a field guide or a quick reference guide but the most complete and up to date reference work I've seen anyway.
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on 26 December 2015
An excellent guide, a bit too big to carry with you in the field and it was very expensive when published ,but it makes a good reference book with paintings that actually look like the birds do in life, as it is almost 20 years old some of the information is dated but that happens with any field guide.
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on 7 April 2013
This book was purchased in the Kindle format for use with my Samsung Galaxy SIII. Disappointingly, there seem to be few UK bird and wildlife publications for ebooks and The Handbook of Bird Identification: For Europe and the Western Palearctic was one of the few available in this format. This is my first ebook so it has been very much a trial and error experience. As a reference book with the need to flick the pages back and forth from illustrations to text, it can be a little fiddly in this form. Although, by clicking on the species name highlighted in brown text in the main pages, it instantly switches to the colour plates. Annoyingly, clicking on the genus headings does not take you to the relevant plates and it is therefore necessary so search through the pages for individual birds as there is no index available of the bird names. On the plus side, the Kindle edition is less than half the price of the equivalent hardback copy and can also be viewed on a standard computer as well as a smartphone. And of course the book can be taken with me wherever I go; whether birding locally, nationally or even abroad, (and this was the primary reason for the purchase) so it was always going to be a compromise between portability and ease of use. The Collins Bird Guide by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney, Dan Zetterström and Peter J. Grant is out shortly in the Kindle format so it may be worth waiting to see how this compares.
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on 28 May 2013
I already have this book and purchased it for my Kindle as I wanted a bird guide for my trip to Finland without the weight of a book. Normally I take Collins Bird Guide away with me but this was the only serious guide available for the Western Palearctic on Kindle. I knew the text would suit my needs and it gave me all the general information I needed. However I soon realized that the small plates were a serious disadvantage with up to 8 species crowded onto one page. And just as in the paper version, the plates are grouped away from the text. Fortunately there is a link to the correct plate from the text for each bird. This book does not go into the same topographical detail as Collins so I found it difficult to separate unfamiliar birds from such small drawings, Buntings for example. Another niggle was the lack of an index - you had to plough through each family of birds to get to the species you wanted, and annoyingly vagrants always seemed to come first!
Personally I feel I made a big mistake leaving my Collins at home and why it is not yet on Kindle is a mystery because it it is every birdwatchers bible. However this Handbook certainly gives you lots of interesting information that is not in Collins and it is in many ways a good complement. But as a pure guide it is limited.
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