Flight Identification of European Seabirds
Flight Identification of European Seabirds by Anders Blomdahl, Bertil Breife & Niklas Holmstrom from Christopher Helm Re-printed May 2007 Price £24.99p. ISBN 0713686166
Today a copy of this book arrived from Helm and I couldn’t see why they sent it for review albeit that this is a reprint of a book I reviewed before… the I glanced at the back cover and found myself quoted saying:
Brilliant! I have been waiting half my birding life for this book…
So I thought it worth looking through although I need no reminder as my existing copy is somewhat dog-eared having been thrown into the car every time I go sea-watching in case of need and it has helped me confirm my ID or indeed refute it many times in the last couple of years. There is nothing here to change my mind and I still give it my highest endorsement. So below is the original review plus a bit of added correspondence!
Brilliant! I have been waiting half my birding life for this book – and here it is as good as I could hope to expect - maybe a tad short of what I desperately wished for, but only a tad. The only very minor criticism I have is of the photographs – most are simply too good! If you are 5 minutes from a headland watchable through the car window in the rain-swept half-light of a winter storm as I am you will know what I mean. Half of my sea watching is spent wondering what just whipped past and the other half is spent wondering what I am looking at right now! Birds do not conveniently fly 20 yards out at eye-level – more often they are way low or way high, far distant or close enough to the sea to be obscured by a rolling swell. In such conditions it would be hard to take photographs but the images that might be captured defy identification.
Of course – if I had the eye of many a sea watching devotee I would only be looking for the right features. My problem partly stems from my way of watching in general – jizz. This makes it easy for me to ID what I am familiar with on very little evidence and easy too, to bring forth the realisation that something is out of the ordinary. With sea watching I lack good ID experience so I struggle. I know many fine birders who commit to memory salient ID points and use these in the field – I have to learn but have always found it hard to relate the illustrations in the fieldguides to what I meet in the field, or in this case, the deep.
Now I will have no excuses! Relying, as it does, on a series of photographs of birds at a variety of distances, in different plumages and sometimes in groups this book gives one every change of improvement. Bless the publishers for making it light enough to carry and with a shiny cover that looks like it will repel the odd bit of spray or sea mist. It will need to be robust as it will be my companion now every time I wander down to the sea!
After this review first appeared I had the following mail from Niklas Holmström…
I have just read your lovely review of our book 'Flight Identification of European Seabirds'. Well done! I love the language it's written in and the person who have written the review certainly have experience of sea watching. That's clear!
Buy this book from www.nhbs.com
Created: 12th May 2007