| Birds of Senegal and the Gambia | By Nik Borrow, Ron Demey & Tony Disley | Christopher Helm | Edition 2 | 2012 | Paperback | 352 pages | 140 colour plates | colour distribution maps | colour maps | ISBN 9781408134696 | £29.99p |
This new field guide covers The Gambia, a country, which is very popular with a large number of birders and tourists, and the whole of neighbouring Senegal. This fascinating region shelters many Western Palearctic migrants from September to April, as well as a significant list of resident West African birds.
The nearly 2000 stunning colour plates depict more than 680 species, covering almost every distinct plumage and race. The authoritative text highlights the key features needed to identify each species in the field, and accurate up-to-date maps are provided for every species.
This comprehensive guide is an essential companion for anyone visiting The Gambia and Senegal.
All field guides are the same right? No siree!
When I went to Gambia well over two decades ago it was hard work to ID birds using what was available – a couple of un-illustrated tomes and the really rather dreadful Collins’ West Africa guide. Back then this was badly printed, overcrowded, with maps so small one had to guess at distribution and some of the plates were in black and white! To be honest we struggled as we had taken a cheap package and guided ourselves apart from a couple of mornings when we joined up with a local lad who has since gone on to become a guide of international repute. Luckily, he, and another chap attached to one of the hotels was able to tell us which of the candidates we picked from the book actually resided in the Gambia! Of course, the Collins’ new guide to the area has none of these failings
Moreover, not long after we went Pica Press produced an excellent guide by Barlow, Wacher and Disley that I pored over to reminisce and rue our timing.
So, coming to this latest offering for the area I had a yardstick to measure it by, both from field experience and library comparison. This latest Helm Guide follows the usual pattern and is excellent in layout and overall design making it easier to use the text even if it is not as comprehensive as the former work. My one reservation are the illustrations. Objectively, I guess it comes down to taste but I much prefer the crisper images of Tony Disley to the ones here. To me they make the colour blocks too uniform and sometimes shape doesn’t gel with my impressions either. The cisticolas for example, seem a lot less rotund in life than in the paintings. Nevertheless, I am sure most intending visitors will do well with this nicely produced guide