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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
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on 26 March 2002
I imagine this book being of help to the varying degrees of peoples interest in our winged friends.
The text is a little small but this can be viewed as a positive by allowing the writers/publishers to cram more in...
If you are looking for a bird book, this is the one to go for, simple as that.
It's neat, well set out, very thorough, excellent diagrams and it's a good size for pocket or backpack.
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on 28 June 2014
This book is exemplary in all its formats. The best bird guide I have seen. The clarity and range of drawings for each bird is very informative. The large format edition is for serious ornithologists, offering larger drawings of each bird,male female and juvenile. The smaller edition perfect for birding afield or abroad. The status key and distribution maps are very useful on the trail where the 'Bird Atlas' is impractical to carry. The information is the same in both editions.
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on 12 August 2004
This book would be a welcomed addition to any birders collection. The illustrated pictures are clear (but a little to small). The text size is small and the maps are almost impossible to make out. Saying that I use it often and it does come in useful due to the pictures being so clear and well drawn. Everything is crammed in to this small book, so that is why the text, maps and pics are so tiny.
As far as I know there is a larger version of this book available, so if you have problems with your eyesight you should purchase that one instead.
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on 16 January 2016
This absolutely stonking guide will serve as a useful reference for both beginners and intermediates to the hobby of bird watching for decades to come, SURELY. It's as comprehensive a celebration of the birds of Britain and Europe as you'll ever find; not one species recorded in the region is omitted. The artwork and captions are definitively helpful, giving you a lavishly rich summary of all the species that matter, as well as a detailed summary for a surprisingly large number of the rarities found in the region. It's perhaps a shame that this same level of detail hasn't been applied to those "rarest of the rare" species featured, but I suppose that's to stop the book from becoming painfully meaty! (Consult the "Further Reading" section at the back of the book to find an author that discusses those species in more detail: Lewington et al, for example). The text will REALLY knock your socks off: it's written in a hugely concise way, yet it sums up each species in question to a tee. I mean just look at the voice descriptions: detailed as you like! Acompanying the main species descriptions are bird family summaries and sections with various bird-watching advice, written in a very friendly, engaging way, (as indeed are the main species descriptions). In short, this epic book has just set the bar really, really high.
Reviewed by Arron S. Munro.
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on 22 January 2012
The quality of this publication cannot be doubted, but, as nothing can be, it's not all things to all men. I would strongly recommend an older Collins Field Guide, 5th edition 1993, by Roger Tory Peterson. It is still in print, albeit marketed as a Peterson Field Guide, the text and plates are identical.
I have owned both books for a decade or more, but for field trips, it has to be 'the Peterson'. The bird images are larger, many are depicted above and below, arrows - pointers - draw ones attention to vital plumage, and physical differences of like species. Top tips from an expert?
I would urge you to flout convention and fashion, and consider 'the Peterson', an older book sure, but it might just surprise you.
P.S. I have, since my initial review (above) found the 'Philips Bird Guide', and was MOST impressed, a wonderful guide - look it up, I urge you, a 5* guide in both plates & text. I've spotted an obviously annotated edition lying on the 'Springwatch' table. At £7 approx., it's a no brainer - really!!
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This book is a little large to carry while out and about and I have mentioned one or two other books in my reviews that are better suited to slipping into the pocket when going out for the day. These smaller books are great for getting an ID, then when you return home something like this book will give you even more information about the species you have spotted.

I agree that photographs can be very nice particularly in large format books but a good drawing can give far more detail about juvenile and adult plumage etc. The book also goes into detail with maps about the areas in which the birds are likely to be found, size, habitat etc., in fact virtually everything you need to know about each species.

There are many many excellent bird books about at the moment. New printing techniques and use of lots of colour has improved the books no end, but this is as good as any of them.
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on 28 November 2003
Imagine a detailed description of every species you're likely to see in Europe? The descriptions include measurements, habitats, likely breeding range, maps, distribution, frequency of sightings, sounds and likelihood of seeing them (rated from 1 to 5 as well as V for vagrants). Moreover, the drawings are of the highest order and extremely detailed. The authors have also added some drawings of some typical postures (ie, cormorants drying their wings) as well as drawings of some birds when seen under poor light conditions etc.. In short, the perfect guide.
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on 27 October 1999
This is the identification book I have been searching for since I started birdwatching! The plates are truly superb (although some copies are a bit pale). Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they are complete in their approach, from eclipse drakes to all the morths of raptors. I particularly liked the little vignettes of birds in their habitat especially when compared to similar species. The text is good, the description of the various songs and calls I found really useful. The book is heavy, I've splashed out £15 on a special bum bag to tote it around with me wherever I go. It is a joy to read, I dip into it all the time .Buy two copies, one to carry around and one to keep pristine at home.
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on 17 February 2010
The long awaited second edition of this excellent field guide is finally here. Improving on the world's best bird field guide is almost certainly a task that will disappoint a few. However the authors and illustrators are to be commended for their achievement. Despite an addition of almost fifty pages, compared to the first edition, this is still a very field-worthy book. The text, range maps, and many illustrations have been throughly revised and updated. Particularly noteworthy are the many new owl illustrations, and the page of "Atlantic" pigeons. Many "new" species have been added due to splits from previous subspecies. Thus, many island races from the Canary Islands are now full species. Some taxonomic groups got a particular revision, such as the wheatears and the "Herring Gull complex". The treatment of the latter has been expanded from less than a double page to three full spreads. With Caspian Gull being fully illustrated in various plumages, for example. The taxonomic sequence got some changes in the first parts of the book, with geese and ducks now at the front. The same confusing fashion as in field guides of North America and many other areas of the world. There is actually no need for a field guide to follow the latest taxonomic insights. Rather, there needs to be a sequence that allows for quickly finding a group of birds. And that would be best served if the basic sequence were kept constant.

Unfortunately, non-native species got a rather worse coverage than in the first edition. Some were relegated to the back of the book such as the locally well established Wood Duck and Mandarin Duck. And even for the European native Ruddy Shelduck, the range presumably due to human releases is not shown on the map. Personally, I consider such omissions a lack of recognizing reality. The same problems, unfortunately, are found in such leading works as the Handbook of the Birds of the World, and likewise for the mammal equivalent.

A welcome change in the range maps is the use of more detailed regional maps for very localised species. Despite the time span of about ten years since the first edition, and the repeated postponement in the publication of this edition for about two years, it seems that there must have been a certain rush at the end. Thus, there are relatively many typos or other minor oversights. No big thing, but somewhat of a bother nevertheless. Hopefully, a large part will be corrected in a later printing.

Despite the various points I have criticized here, the book fully merits its five stars. It is just SO good! However, if you already own the first edition, you might want to wait for a later printing that should not be that far in the future.
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on 15 November 2011
I recommend this larger format Collins Bird Guide. The text and pictures are excellent.
We are keen birders and we have actually bought two copies of this book.

It is much easier to read the larger format book, particularly when middle-age vision problems start to occur.

We also have the paperback edition of the Collins Bird Guide for carrying around when bird watching.

A couple of years ago, we bought a second-hand copy of the first edition. The first edition large format book was done as a limited print run.

If wondering what to buy youself for Christmas - I suggest this large Format Collins bird Book.

It is definitely worth 5 stars. Enjoy!
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