The Good Bird Guide
The Good Bird Guide [A species by species guide to finding Europe`s best birds] by Keith Marsh Christopher Helm 2005 ISBN 0713668482 £16.99 PB
The publishers say If there are species that you especially want to see, this book is for you. A great alternative to the popular site-based guides which prioritise location first, this book is a birdfinding guide to Britain and Europe`s most coveted species. Unlike the Where to Watch Birds guides, which direct birders to good general birding sites, this guide takes each individual species as a starting point, and picks out the best places to see that bird.
So far as it goes this is true and, if you have a lot of gaps in your European lists, and you want to work out where to go to fill those gaps then this volume has a place on your shelves. You will still need the Where to Watch guide for the localities that look favourite to give you most lifers, but you will know which one to buy.
Having said that its use is limited to that function as the site details are, well, not detailed. You get the country and the site name is all; with stars to give you an idea of how likely you are to connect and a seasonal indicator too. Given this I find it odd that the species entries have a line drawing of the bird and notes on the birds range. This space would be better used to give slightly fuller info on the sites mentioned. The drawings are OK but you are not going to look through this book to see them and all they do is serve to break up the text. Each entry gives tips too and these are, for the most part, very useful.
I can see avid listers buying the book, going through it to mark off their lifer gaps and then listing the countries and sites to see where to take their next European trip. Having done that I`m afraid it will gather dust on the top shelf. The trouble is that most of us will have a myriad of ways of finding out the same info from surfing the net [not least Fatbirder`s pages] to looking at the distribution maps in our fieldguides to reading trip reports and magazines. Putting all this info, for all these species, in one place must have taken a lot of research and I commend Keith Marsh for having done so; but most of us will only look at a few entries and then move on to the guide for our chosen destination.
Created: 07th Aug 2005