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Advanced Bird ID Guide:

The Western Palearctic

By Nils Van Duivendijk | 308 pages | 10 line drawings | New Holland Publishers | 2010 | £14.99 - ISBN 9781847736079 The publisher asserts that ‘this innovative guide is an essential addition to the library of any serious birder. It accurately describes every key detail of every plumage of all 900 species that have ever occurred in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East - the region known to all birdwatchers as the Western Palearctic. Its level of detail is unprecedented for a book of this size.

This is a guide with a difference. It has no colour plates or illustrations, but instead its unique selling point is that for every species the detailed text lists the key characters of each recognizable plumage, including male, female, immature, juvenile, all subspecies and all other variations. This level of detail includes, for example, all eleven forms of Canada Goose and all nine forms of Yellow Wagtail known in the region. In the past such in-depth detail has only been available in huge multi-volume tomes. This book allows birders to take this information into the field for the first time.’At the price I concede that it does pack in the information and should one want this level of detail it is portable and all in the one place where one would have to have half a library of species accounts and have to trawl through to glean the gems that sparkle here. Having said that one would have to already have a clue as to the species already in order to know where to look so it is only of use to those needing to know subtle difference when separating species in the hand or when you doubt whether what you are looking at is a commoner, more familiar bird. However, a good fieldguide will show most species and many variations so the use is going to be very limited for all but the luckiest of rarity hunters or those netting birds at observatories and the like. I am always wary of assertions that something is ‘essential’ to ‘serious’ birders as it implies that if you don’t buy it you are not serious and it just feels as if they are trying to widen the natural market.

In short I have no criticism to offer about the contents, but wonder how wide the potential market will be for it.

FatbirderBuy this book from www.nhbs.com