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Wildlife of Australia

…less species should have been given more room

Wildlife of Australia | Princeton Pocket Guides Series | By Iain Campbell & Sam Woods | 286 Pages | 438 Colour Photos | 1 Colour Map | Princeton University Press | Paperback | 2013 | ISBN: 9780691153537

Description: Coverage includes the 350 birds, 70 mammals, 30 reptiles, and 16 frogs most likely to be seen on a trip around Australia - Easy-to-use pocket guide More than 400 high-quality photographs Accessible text aids identification Habitat guide describes the Australian bush and its specific wildlife Coverage includes the 350 birds, 70 mammals, 30 reptiles, and 16 frogs most likely to be seen on a trip around Australia

Publisher’s View: Ideal for the nature-loving traveler, Wildlife of Australia is a handy photographic pocket guide to the most widely seen birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and habitats of Australia.

Wildlife of Australia features more than 400 stunning color photographs, and coverage includes 350 birds, 70 mammals, 30 reptiles, and 16 frogs likely to be encountered in Australia's major tourist destinations. Accessible species accounts are useful for both general travelers and serious naturalists, and the invaluable habitat section describes the Australian bush and its specific wildlife. Animal species with similar features are placed on the same plates in order to aid identification. Wildlife of Australia is an indispensable and thorough resource for any nature enthusiast interested in this remarkable continent.

Authors: Iain Campbell - a native of Australia, lives in Quito, Ecuador, with his wife and children. The builder of the Tandayapa Bird Lodge and founder of Tropical Birding Tours, he serves as a nature guide to locations around the world. Sam Woods - is a full-time nature guide for Tropical Birding Tours. He has led tours in Australia, South America, Asia, Africa, and North America.Fatbirder View: I have no doubt that the authors know their stuff, it is clear from the brief species accounts alongside each photo and the introductory pages. Indeed I’ve met Ian and even heard one of his talks at the British Bird Fair and know his tour company is well like and praised by its customers. Take a look at their website and you will see that many of their guides a capable of taking stunning photographs.

However, that is where bird and other photographs belong, on websites and in coffee table books! Regular readers of my reviews will know that I am no lover of photographic field guides, even ‘popular’ ones like this created for those with a casual interest. A look at some of the illustrations in this volume amply demonstrates why. Take a look at the illustrations for Red-legged Pademelon and Red-necked Pademelon (p32-p33). Grass obscures the legs of one, the angles show one front on and one in profile. One is in shadow and the other in sun and they are different sizes without it being clear if they are the same size in life. What they do NOT do is allow you to easily compare like with like. The ID features are described but do not easily show in the photos. Turn to the back and look at the reptiles… one species is seen from below as it scales a wire fence, another shows no more than the head and a few inches of neck etc. Throughout the book the average picture takes up between one sixth and half a page – and this is a pocket-sized book. They range from sharp and well lit to shady and even blurred – there are none that I would concur with the publisher with, that they are stunning. Indeed, no matter how good a photograph is, it is unlikely to have impact on this scale.

I’m sorry to say that this book tries to force a quart into a pint pot and is not one I’d want with me if looking at wildlife in the antipodes. Australia is lucky to have at least three first class bird field guides and this re-invention of the wheel is unnecessary as they are all pretty portable. I’ve seen some guides to snakes there that could slip into a shirt pocket. Perhaps a lot less species should have been given a lot more room.

Buy this book from www.nhbs.com