| By Jean-Yves Barnagaud, Nidal Issa, Sébastien Dalloyau & Jean-Philippe | Pelagic Publishing | 2019 | Paperback | 336 pages, colour photos, 300+ colour maps | ISBN: 9781784271541 |

The Publisher’s View: An introduction to France for anyone visiting with birds in mind, from casual birdwatchers checking a bird that flies over the terrace during a family holiday to addict birders who would sell their souls for a dream species or a record-breaking checklist. Some may have just a few spare hours to get their binoculars out between business meetings or museum visits, others will be out in the field for two weeks or more, from sunrise to sunset. The authors wrote Where to Watch Birds in France for all bird lovers, birdwatchers and birders, whatever the duration of their stay, the number of kilometres they are prepared to travel and how they enjoy birds.

With over 400 regularly occurring species, of which 357 normally breed or winter, France has arguably one of the most diverse avifaunas of the whole of Europe, spanning an incredible range from colourful Mediterranean flagship species such as roller, bee-eater or black-winged kite to secretive cold-climate or mountain specialists like three-toed woodpecker and Tengmalm’s owl. The Birdfinder section provides targeted details for 30 species which often rank in the top wish-list of birders visiting France.

Dividing the country into 14 regions, the authors highlight 312 representative sites, chosen for their bird species composition and ease of access. The selected sites enable the reader to see the widest possible species diversity and largest range of local specialities in a reasonable time, while respecting the basic ethical rules obvious to all birdwatchers. Whenever possible, sites are arranged in clusters or itineraries that can be covered in two to three days without hurrying. To supplement the use of Where to Watch Birds in France in the field, all the sites described are geolocated in a file that can be downloaded from the publisher’s website and loaded onto any GPS device.

Fatbirder View: There is no doubt that a huge effort has gone into this book, which can now be considered the definitive resource for the country’s travelling or visiting birders. Its use of proper maps and detailed information on special species is a wonderful resource.

Having said that it’s not I feel a book for the faint-hearted traveller nor the inexperienced birder. While maps are accurate they all cover a lot of ground and this is not a detailed site-guide. If you are a determined visitor who finds it easy to get around, and you have the time to explore the areas pointed out as productive this book will be invaluable.

In the UK we are spoilt with country guides that cover individual sites with detailed information and simplified maps, which are very easy to follow. Previous volumes on some regions are closer to that model, this volume is a rich resource but to my mind is, in some ways, too much information for the average birder who wants to know where to go for what and how to find them when they get there.

I wish it luck and I am sure many birders will mine this resource for years to come and be rewarded which formerly hidden gems.

<a href=”https://www.nhbs.com/product?id=244726&amp;amp;ca_id=5″>Buy this book from NHBS</a> <em>Fatbirder</em>