| Birds of Sri Lanka | By Deepal Warakagoda, Carol Inskipp, Tim Inskipp & Richard Grimmett | Christopher Helm | 2012 | Softcover | 224 pages | 104 colour plates | colour photos | 350 colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9780713688535 | £29.99p |
With a rich avifauna of more than 350 species that includes 29 endemics, the island of Sri Lanka is one of southern Asia’s most popular birding destination. This new field guide provides full coverage of every species on the Sri Lanka list, including most vagrants, with particular emphasis placed on endemic species and races. Detailed text highlights key identification criteria, along with accurate colour maps. Packed with spectacular and detailed plates by leading bird artists such as Alan Harris, Tim Worfolk and John Cox, “Birds of Sri Lanka” is the definitive identification tool for the visiting birdwatcher and another majestic addition to the Helm Field Guides series.
Deepal Warakadoda is Sri Lanka’s leading ornithologist. A tour leader, photographer and conservationist, Deepal made his name with his stunning 2002 discovery of the Serendib Scops Owl in Sri Lanka’s Sinharaja Forest. This owl was a species completely new to science; the Holy Grail for any birdwatcher.
Richard Grimmett and Carol & Tim Inskipp are widely respected as the leading experts on the birds of southern Asia. Their major work was the epic Birds of the Indian Subcontinent, from which has sprung several highly acclaimed field guides.
This guide is a logical step from Grimmett & Inskipp’s major tome on the Sub-continent. We already have an India Guide, which draws from it and is set to become (if it isn’t already) the fieldguide of choice when visiting India.
This has already joined it as my fieldguide of choice for Sri Lanka (should I ever get invited back to fill some gaps). You have to ask is it better than what is already available and, for me, it does edge it. It is very portable, has the advantage of standard fieldguide layout with plates set against which is descriptive text and distribution maps. (The pick of previous guides had the plates collected in the middle.) There are some good introductory pages setting the scene for the island and its conservation areas etc. One feature that should be standard in all fieldguides (but sadly lacking in many) is a run down of the families of birds found there. I’ve long had the practice of trying to familiarize myself with bird families when planning a trip. If you can look at a bird and think to yourself ‘that’s some sort of babbler’ it is then far easier to quickly look in the right place in a guide to narrow down to particular species. Moreover, it has also drawn on the knowledge of Sri Lanka’s top ornithologist. Deepal is a thoroughly nice and very self-effacing chap whose depth of knowledge deserves to be tapped!