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on 15 March 2015
A first class and essential field guide to the area - the only regret is that it lacks distribution maps
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on 28 December 2007
I wanted one field guide that would cover Thailand and Cambodia, and this is the only choice. The plates are just big enough for clarity and to show differential details between species; the information on distribution by area and season was again enough to work from - and better than using more space for maps that would have been far too generalised. To get this much into so small a book and make it so useful is a job well done. Recommended.
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on 8 June 2009
An attractive looking book but is suited more as a reference book than a field guide due to it's weight. I'm afraid the lack of maps is a major omission - whether I'm in S.America, India or SE Asia one of the standard ways of eliminating birds for ID purpses is by checking its range on a map. I also prefer the Collins layout of placing relevant information opposite illustrations, rather than having to checking a plates number and referring to data in the second half of the book -its just easier to use. I've bought it to take to Vietnam and Cambodia and scanning through the sections describing bird's ranges have only found one reference to Vietnam so far. I'm sure it must be described in a different way - but it isn't obvious.

Its strengths lie in the area it covers and the number of birds it describes. If you are travelling through the whole area this guide covers and had to take a separate guide for each country, this guide would seem light and easy to use.

So is it worth getting? Well it might sound like I'm suggesting it isn't but it's the most up to date guide of the area and I haven't yet found a guide that can beat it. I'm sure that in the future as more interest is taken in the area guides will emerge for individual countries with the information in a more accessible form. However for the time being it is the best guide I've come across for the area so I'm happy to have it.
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on 11 February 2009
Once you get used to the abbreviated terminology this book is an excellent companion for trips to SE Asia. A summary of general bird migrations (just 2 or 3 pages long) would have improved it further. I'm very happy with my purchase and would recommend it to others.
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on 15 September 2000
Robson has taken on the monumentous task first tackled by Ben King thirty years ago; to produce a guide to all the birds of South- East Asia, and he's as good as pulled it off! I used this book on the standard Thai circuit during 4 weeks of early 1999. First of all I would say that the book fails to live up to it's title "A Field Guide......" It should have been designed with use in the field as its prime concern, disappointingly this aspect was not that successful. I left my Rounds Guide to the Birds of Thailand in someones car at Heathrow and that was a mistake. Secondly the lack of distribution maps at all, let alone next to the plates, made the successful identification of unfamiliar birds a slow process, it was my first time to South-East Asia so there were plenty of them! I found having to read distribution notes first very slow and frustrating. Thirdly Robson chose to follow Sibley and Monroe's taxonomy, the rights and wrongs of which are not for this review, however again this slowed down my task of identifing a bird quickly in the field and no one else on our trip was totally familiar with this classification. So why 4 stars? The plates are on the whole superb, particularly Christopher Schmidt's glorious Thrushes,Redstarts and Flycatchers, Stephen Message's Babblers and Scimitar and Wren Babblers and Clive Byers's brilliant Pittas and Laughingthrushes, just look at Spotted and Blue-winged. Hilary Burn's Owls are exquisite. Perhaps as skilfully completed is the scholarly text. Robson is a giant of the South-East Asian birding scene and it shows. The small text in the species accounts is a mine of information, 100% up-to-date and unbelievably detailed making identification of those female Ficedula's an eventual formality. This alone is enough to make it excellent value for money. Dispite my preceding criticism I would say that this book is indispensable on a field trip but is best left in the car, hotel room or tent. It would also come into it's own in the other less visited or well described areas in the region that this book covers where no smaller quicker to use guide exists.If you're going to these facinating lands of almost mythical birds no other guide comes close - buy it.
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on 23 May 2006
Between February and April 2006 I tested my copy in the field while birding in Laos: It is an excellent field guide! It is very practical: plastic cover, compact and light enough for field use, texts and illustrations facing each other, good descriptions of species, relevant sub-species, voices, habitats and ranges. In addition the illustrations by 14 different artists are generally good to very good. I recorded about 160 species in two months and was able to easily identify several species new to me thanks to the good quality of the illustrations and the text.

One day while birding around Vientiane my Robson's field guide fell into the mud by accident. It was instantly covered with mud but thanks to its plastic cover, I could easily clean it and continue to use it as before. Most field guides don't automatically come with such a plastic cover and would be permanently damaged in similar circumstances!

I have used some other top quality field guides in other regions of the world: Collins Bird Guide by Mullarney, Svensson, Zetterström and Grant (1999) in Europe, Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America (2003) in USA, Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Stevenson and Fanshawe (2002) in Kenya and Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by Grimmet, Inskipp and Inskipp (2001) in Nepal, among others. By comparison I find this new version of Birds of South-east Asia excellent! Describing 1270 species with so much text and so many good illustrations in such a compact field guide is a major achievement! However, some may complain that it uses the Sibley & Monroe taxonomic order and that species distributions are described only in the text without distribution maps. But the lack of maps - that would be inaccurate anyway - obviously enabled to insert more useful information for each species.

Overall, it is an excellent, up-to-date and handy field guide for birding in South-east Asia (it is even smaller than Birds of Thailand by the same author!). A real top quality field guide for the region covering Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Congratulations to the author and the illustrators! Good value for money but be aware of the possible confusion between the 3 successive versions of this book. The first and more comprehensive version of this guide - excellent reference but bigger and less practical in the field - was already called "A Field Guide to the Birds of South-east Asia" (Craig Robson, 2000). For this new smaller and handier version just ensure that you buy the 304-page version "Birds of South-east Asia" published in 2005 and not the 504-page version published in 2000 (hardcover) or in 2002 (softcover).
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 10 October 2011
I classify myself as a "bad" birdwatcher rather than a twitcher but enjoy viewing birds in my travels round the world.
I have recently been reviewing video I shot in Thailand , Singapore other SE Asian areas and wanted to identify several of the birds recorded . we are also visiting China and the rst of SE Asia in November 2011) .

The book covers the birds in great detail generously illustarted but is lacking in maps or details of any specific birdwatching sites or country distributions .There is , however , a general two page guide to the types of envirinments.. There are also 2 pages of general maps of the areas covered at the back of the guide.
Cannot fault the level of detail and illustrations for bird identification.

Overview - an excellent field guide at a reasonable price - solong as just the details of the birds are required
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on 31 October 2009
An essential guide to the region (covering Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar), very useful in the field and as a reference work as well. Excellent plates illustrating sexual, age and geographical variations with the concise keys to identification on the opposite page of each one. Text completes the descriptions of plumages (just briefly because there are 1.327 species covered, but including comparison of similar species) and offers some keys on habitat, behaviour, range and status, with notes about reproduction (timing, nest, eggs) in those breeding species. Introduction includes useful information about bird habitat. Definitively, a very valuable book to all the serious birdwatchers who are planning to visit the region.
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on 10 November 2009
The art work is good, and the book fits the pocket and appears well bound.
The shear number of bird species and the need for portability - it is a field guide - means there is no room for maps. To copensate it does give height range, habitat and zone in the text.
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on 22 May 2002
This is a very comprehensive fieldguide covering 1251 species with 104 excellent colour plates plus text for each species. Area covered is Burma, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Highly recommended. Only downside is its a little heavy for a field guide (I have the hardback edition) - this new softback is probably lighter, and is definitely cheaper. A big improvement on the older Collins guide.
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