RSPB British Birdfinder – By Marianne Taylor | 288 Pages | 250+ Colour Photos | Colour Distribution Maps | A & C Black | Softcover | 2012 | ISBN: 9781408158678
Author: Marianne Taylor is author of several natural history books, including “RSPB NatureWatch”, “RSPB British Birds of Prey”, “RSPB Where to Discover Nature” and “The Nature Book”.
Publishers View: Most bird books are designed to help you identify the birds that you’ve seen. This book is different. It is a species-by-species guide that shows you how to find and watch more than 250 species of birds that can be seen in Britain. Some are common; others are rare migrants or scarce breeding birds, but this book will tell you the best places to see and watch all of them.
Aimed at an interested but non-expert audience, readers will be able to see their most coveted species but also enjoy rewarding watching experiences that will enhance their understanding of the species, of bird behaviour and of key fieldcraft techniques.
– How to find including the best time of day, how to search the habitat and behavioural signs
– Watching tips including ways to get close to the bird without disturbing it and how to attract it to your garden
– Super sites includes a short list of some of the best places to see the species.Fatbirder View: Not only will casual birdwatchers find this book an excellent addition to their library many new birders will too. I remember when I started to bird, rather than birdwatch, that I was frustrated by having ‘where to watch’ guides for counties or regions organized by sites and not something that was organized by the species. Decades later there were some guides to rarities organised that way but this is, I think, the first more general work.
New birders will want to try half a dozen places to fill that frustrating gap on their list – not a rarity but a bird that is localised in distribution perhaps.
Having said that the book does have a few surprising gaps. For example, there is no point in saying that Common Quail are located by call and then not giving even a hint of what that call is… especially when it is one of the few birds visiting these shores that has a useful mnemonic – ‘Wet-my-lips’. An RSPB book that misses out of the top sites places where some scarce species breed only makes sense if it is not already in the public domain. I was also quite surprised by some places in my locality described as among the best places to see species that I’ve never heard of being seen there. Perhaps some places keep things to themselves too much or maybe some info is rather out of date already?
These minor points aside, this looks like a handy addition to most birders libraries.