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Stephen Vaughan (Surrey, UK)
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Sasol Birds of Southern Africa
Sasol Birds of Southern Africa
by Ian Sinclair
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.84

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best guide for the region, 2 Jan. 2012
Newly updated, this is the best guide for the region in my view. I also have the Newman and Collins guides to this patch, but this one leaves them standing. The pictures are excellent, and the text and maps are on the facing page just as you would want. There's a pictorial index and several different text indices too to find the one you need quickly. In the field, it's a joy to use and the helpful little summaries of habitat and habit are informative without overload. One of our guides was using the previous edition of this book, and we both agreed that this revision makes some excellent improvements. Highly recommended.


The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds (The Crossley ID Guides)
The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds (The Crossley ID Guides)
by Richard Crossley
Edition: Flexibound
Price: £19.96

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Will all bird guides be like this some time?, 19 Sept. 2011
I hope not. I have used this guide in the field, and have rather mixed feelings. First I should explain what makes it so different. The pictures really make it stand out from others - they are not paintings/illustrations, nor conventional photos. Instead each plate is a photo-montage of many different images of the bird in various different poses and plumages. This should make for a very comprehensive set of reference images and aid identification in all situations. Unfortunately it doesn't quite seem to work like that in the field. The book is very cumbersome for field use, and despite the many different pictures for each species, the sheer volume of material seems to get in the way of rapid identification. It feels more like a coffee-table book than a field guide. Compared to the excellent Sibley guide, it's not as good - the illustrations in Sibley seem better equipped to show the key distinguishing marks of each species, and the size is much more manageable.

Summary - an interesting exercise, in need of some refinement.


Watching Yellowstone & Grand Teton Wildlife
Watching Yellowstone & Grand Teton Wildlife
by Todd Wilkinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.81

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not worth it, 15 Sept. 2011
I bought this book hoping it would help with watching wildlife in Yellowstone and Grand Teton (something to do with the title...). It didn't. Instead, it is a very disappointing and superficial review of the types of wildlife that you might see - major species only, nothing much on birds. What is completely missing is any information on the where to go, the best sites, times of day or year, good trails etc. Poor.


Birding Utah (Regional Birding Series)
Birding Utah (Regional Birding Series)
by D. E. Mcivor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great coverage, but a bit out of date, 15 Sept. 2011
We used this to find all those hard-to-find locations on our recent trip to Utah. Some of the sites identified were really excellent, and I liked the way that the key species for each location is set out and there's good guidance on the best times to visit and where exactly to go. Coverage is good with well over 100 places all over the state detailed, each with their own entry. We found plenty of species that we otherwise would have missed, thanks to this book.

The are two reservations however. The first is that the maps are at times less than accurate or complete. In one case we were sent around 5 miles off course by following the map, but at other times were able to find places easily. However the more serious reservation is that this book is in serious need of an update. It's from 1998, and unfortunately in some cases serves as an eloquent testimony to the rate that habitat is being destroyed. Of the ten places we visited, two were basically completely destroyed by development. If you plan to go significantly out of your way to visit one of the sites in this book, check with a second source first.


Mammals of North America: Second Edition (Princeton Field Guides)
Mammals of North America: Second Edition (Princeton Field Guides)
by Roland W. Kays
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent in every way, 15 Sept. 2011
Took this on my recent trip to Utah and Wyoming as a complement to the (also excellent) Sibley bird guide. The coverage is really good with top quality illustrations. The layout was also spot on with the text and distribution maps on the page opposite the relevant picture. It's small enough to carry around but still comprehensive in its coverage. Highly recommended.


Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi (Helm Field Guides)
Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi (Helm Field Guides)
by Terry Stevenson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £31.50

5.0 out of 5 stars This is the one you need, 9 Jun. 2011
At last, we have a great bird guide to East Africa. The pictures are just excellent, which has been the main problem with guides to this region before. However good pictures don't make a good guide. This one has the right layout as well, with informative but not overwhelming text and very good maps opposite the illustrations. This makes for a very useable guide in the field, as well as being a beautiful book in its own right. When I took it to Kenya last year, the local guide couldn't stop looking at it.


Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain
Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain
by Sue Gerhardt
Edition: Paperback

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A startling revalation, 9 Jun. 2011
This book was recommended to me as a way to help understand some of things going on in my own life, and boy, what a stunning revalation. The style is a good mix of science written in a very approachable way, and social comment written in a strong observational style. This combination works very well together to explore the consequences of parenting styles on the way children turn out in later life. I particularly liked the way that the author explains the way that apparently benign environments can actually cause later difficulties. There's no mumbo jumbo either - its all there in the neuroscience, explained as the effect an upbringing has on the way the early brain develops. It has been extremely helpful to me in understanding why I think and feel and act in the way that I do. Recommended not just for parents, but for everyone. You'll never see life the same way again.


The Age of Kali: Travels and Encounters in India
The Age of Kali: Travels and Encounters in India
by William Dalrymple
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work, 9 Jun. 2011
On the whole, I am a Dalrymple fan, but this isn't his best. It takes the form of a series of relatively unconnected chapters, more and anthology of articles than a coherent book. As such, it loses all of the narrative form of some of his other books, especially the travelogues. I also found some of the writing depressive for the sake of it. I have been to India quite a few times, and not seen evidence that everyone is murdering everyone else, for example, which is the impression you might get from the first chapter. Try some of his others first.


A History of the World in 100 Objects
A History of the World in 100 Objects
by Neil MacGregor
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good, but listen to the radio programmes too, 9 Jun. 2011
I really liked this book, but then I had the benefit of listening to most of the 100 radio programmes upon which it is based. The writing is good, not just a verbatim of the radio script, and it's been nice to dip in randomly to pick out objects at will. Unlike other reviews, I felt the photography was actually quite good, giving a nice visual complement to the words. The choice of objects is eclectic and serves to ilustrate the great sweep of history as well as the amazing diversity of the museum's collection. In itself, this is a powerful argument for the British Museum itself, which presumably is MacGregor's sub-plot. It's nice that for the most part he has avoided the big trophy objects and focused mostly on the small but nonetheless fascinating.


A Photographic Field Guide To Birds Of South-East Asia
A Photographic Field Guide To Birds Of South-East Asia
by Craig Robson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good pics, but needs maps, 8 Jun. 2011
On the plus side, I would say that the pictures are good and it's nice to get all the birds from this large and varied region into a guide that is perfectly useable in the field. Unlike some other reviewers of this book, I had no trouble with the size and the laminated cover is a nice touch. The one serious criticism is that distributions are described in words rather than maps. I really don't know why this is and it's a terrible omission from an otherwise excellent book. Since a major way to separate species is by distribution, and it's certainly not always clear whether you are in central, south-eastern or eastern Thailand for example, I felt this was poor. Otherwise, I recommend it, and there is nothing else currently to match it for the region.


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