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Collins BTO Guide to Rare British Birds Hardcover – 24 Sep 2015
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Praise for Paul Sterry’s previous titles:
'Wonderfully descriptive photographs' BBC Wildlife
‘Whether you are a keen amateur or someone with a passing interest, this book will satisfy your needs.’ The Sea
'Packs in lots of well-chosen detail in compact form' British Wildlife
‘A bookshelf essential’ The Field
About the Author
Paul Sterry has written and illustrated more than 50 books, including the bestselling Collins Complete Guide to British Wildlife (which has sold over half a million copies) and Collins Complete Guide to British Birds. Trained as a zoologist, Paul has been a wildlife photographer for over 30 years and owns the photo library Nature Photographers. He has worked as a Research Fellow at Sussex University studying freshwater ecology and regularly undertakes research expeditions. He is a keen birder and conservationist.
Top customer reviews
Thanks to the two Pauls (Sterry & Stancliffe) for this guide to the rarer species of Britain & Ireland. It covers 340 species recorded at least 4 times, although 50 only get half a page (the rest get full page treatment). There is also a listing of the 78 'rarest of the rare' species seen even less frequently. The book is well laid out and produced, so as a brilliant aide-memoire weighing just 533g, it has merits. I cannot, however, quite buy into the idea of carrying two books (this and the companion to the common species). Combined, they weigh well over a kilo. Worse, directly comparing e.g. Montagu's and Pallid Harriers becomes tedious; wondering which volume contains which species would be greatly aided by a combined index and cross-referencing. Luckily the pages, especially the white areas, take pencil well. Readers can add annotations, such as 'Tory Peterson arrows' easily.
I was biased from the start. not liking photoguides. Most of the photos are useful, although shadows can be frustrating (e.g. Great White Egret underwing).
So, what is good?
1. Good concise summary of frequency and distribution of records.
2. It gives BTO 2 letter codes where appropriate.
3. I have seen 202 of the species in this book (sadly few in B&I). I can spot no errors. Have used in field this week in Sussex for Pallid Harrier and Yellow-browsed Warbler (BUT see below).
4. Includes a glossary; unlike the companion guide it defines eclipse in ducks.
So what are my criticisms?:
1. Title: the book actually covers Britain & Ireland, including as it does 11 species recorded in the latter but not the former.
2. Nothing really about how to take notes; sorry, but this is vital, despite the increasing use of photos as a partial substitute. Photos ARE incredibly useful, but sadly cannot record many identification features, especially vocal and behavioural ones.
3. With both the species that I have used this book in field (see above), I found it handy BUT referred to other books afterwards with my notes: 'black Collins' won out both times. As the British List and Irish List are bound to grow, I doubt that this 'two Paul's' book has a stronger claim for room in our libraries. But to my surprise, I am glad to have it as well.
4. I missed any mention of Moltoni's Warbler Sylvia subalpina (2009, 2009, 2014), presumably subsumed into Western Subalpine Warbler Sylvia inornata.