Friday, 17 March 2017

Book Review - Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East

     There is such a proliferation of field guides these days, and constant revisions to existing field guides, that one could forgive the birder who raises his eyebrows and shrugs his shoulders at the announcement of a new one.

          This field guide from Princeton University Press, however, should give reason to applaud its entry into the realm of ornithological works. It is splendidly produced, at 13 cm x 19 cm ideal for carrying in the field, and contains a myriad of high quality photographs.

     I must confess that I had no previous acquaintance with Frédéric Jiguet and Aurélien Audevard, a serious omission I might add. This excellent work serves to put all of us on notice that we should take the time to get to know the ornithological luminaries of as many countries as we can.
    Photographic guides are generally not my first choice; photographs often freeze a pose that misses some of the critical field marks, and in the case of birds that skulk in dark places are generally less than satisfactory.
     This guide turns that notion on its head. The photographs are of a high standard indeed and often give the impression of being illustrations. Flight shots are included for many species and I have not found any instances where I feel that the bird is not well covered.

     The text that accompanies the illustrations is pleasingly brief; this is after all a field guide not a monograph, but all the salient characters are covered.

       Furthermore,  the use of pointers to highlight the distinguishing features of a bird which clinch its identification, is a very welcome artifice that has fallen into disuse in recent years. This technique was popularized by Roger Tory Peterson, of course, and has helped countless thousands, millions even, of novice birders to quickly familiarize themselves with common species, and become confident enough to use these keys to progress to more difficult and less frequently encountered birds. 
     The book is modestly priced at US$29.95 or £24.95, well within the range of other field guides and affordable for all.
     If you are travelling to any of the areas covered I highly recommend this guide as your first choice.


  1. David, thank you for sharing your insights on this field guide. It looks like a great learning book with the fabulous pictures and informative narrative. I think it will be a must have for my birding trip to Europe this fall.

  2. It seems a good book. Birds are great-looking pictures.

  3. Congratulation David on yet another great accomplishment. Your endorsement of this reading material certainly is, for me, a good indication of its quality and usability. Maybe we can put it to use in our soon to be travel adventures?

  4. Hello David,
    I know Aurélien, he's a very good photograph and nice boy.
    His guide Tous les oiseaux de France is also very well.
    Thank you for this news

    1. Je dois essayer d'obtenir une copie de Tous Les Oiseaux de France.

  5. Hi Both, appears to be a wonderful publication plus with your recommendation. Have a good weekend, all the best John

  6. Thanks for your review David ... I might now be tempted to spend some pennies.

  7. I sort of 'know' Aurélien (via facebook and he also used some of my photos in a companion guide to European rarities), he seems to be part of a group of impressively good French birders..........

  8. Looks very interesting with the illustrations. Saw there the Stonee-Curlew, suppose they are noisy too as our bush ones.

  9. The book looks very interesting and exhaustive.
    A year ago I photographed two birds (flying high) that might have been hawks of some kind or not. If I see them this year, I'll ask you to identify them. :)

  10. It looks a lovely book, I like the illustrations. Diane

  11. I am surprised that so many field guides can make money. There is a new one about to be published here - and of course I pre-ordered it!

    Travelling in any part of the developing world carries a few risks - generally done OK, but maybe not this!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  12. Just beautiful.. So interesting.. Regards..

  13. Fantastic Review David,I like the look of this book.

  14. Hi David,
    Thanks for letting us know about this bird guide, most interesting to anyone who wishes to observe or photograph birds in Africa.
    Warm hugs to the 2 of you :)

  15. No la conocía, parece interesante. Muchas gracias por compartir la información amigo David. Un fuerte abrazo desde España.