The Australian Bird Guide

I picked my copy up from BirdLife Western Australia when they arrived
yesterday (BWA sells it at $40 plus postage if you can’t pick it up
from the office).

It is certainly a great book, and you can see the amount of detail
they have gone to.

I like the text that is next to the illustration. Michael Morcombe
has done that. Hard to scan all the way through it but it seems to be
very thorough. Tegan Douglas in the BWA office has picked up that the
distribution map for Tawny-crowned Honeyeater does not include WA (page 400).

I like the illustrations being separated by the thin black lines. As
others have said the text size for the distribution maps is a little
smaller than I feel could have been used. As a twitcher I admit I
like the inclusion of all the species from the territories. I very
much like the inclusion of weight in the header of each species, but
I am surprised that total length is not included, and I wonder how
useful wing length and bill length are for a field guide. The circles
indicating how common a species is, is very difficult to do across
all species. Many species might be scarce, but can be very easy to
find if you visit the right location. Not totally sure of the header
line for each species. The circle could probably be put on the line
with the measurements. That would allow quite a few more of the
scientific names to be on the header line. I don’t think I like the
indent when the header line is broken into two, but this is purely
cosmetic. I wish they had used Michael Morcombe’s idea with sub
species and put a coloured dot next to the illustration of each sub species.

With the distribution maps along the bottom of the page, it looks a
little funny when there are three or four as they are not evenly
spaced. I know why because with the two columns of text the second
and fourth are right justified in their columns which makes the
second and third quite close. But again this is just cosmetic. I am a
little surprised that the species name on the illustration page is
not the same as on the text page (i.e. colour and upper/lower case).

I think the title for the distribution map for Brown Gerygone / Dusky
Gerygone should be reversed to match the distribution. I am a little
surprised they combined the two species, as the bottom line would
have room for 5 maps, but this upsets the two column layout.
Similarly for Tasmanian Thornbill / Chestnut-rumped Thornbill
(reverse the order to match the map). But again this is largely cosmetic.

I accept that they haven’t treated Western Fieldwren as a full
species. They do refer to the name once in the text. I would like to
see that highlighted (maybe bold but preferably coloured and not
bold) and the name put against the illustration also.

I like the plates having the artist’s initials at the bottom left.
But why doesn’t the text then have the author’s initials?

They have included some text at the start of many families, but I
notice there is no header for the “Monarchs”, Fantails and probably
others so this is not consistent.

The family order is different. I don’t expect waterfowl to be after
the shorebirds, but I guess you would get used to it.

I like it very much that they haven’t stuck religiously to the
taxonomic order. e.g. all the white egrets are together.

Most of my comments above are purely cosmetic. So I would give it 9.5/10.

We have now reconsidered which field guides to stock at BWA. This
will certainly be highly recommended. But we will still stock and
recommend Michael Morcombe’s Compact Guide as it is smaller and I
consider it a little easier for inexperienced birders to use
(although the colours are distorted). I very much like the ribbon in
the Morcombe guide to keep your place, and I am glad this is part of
this new field guide also. It is amazing how many times you want to
refer again to the page you have just looked at. Being in Western
Australia, we will also stock Simon Nevill’s guide for WA as it
includes some information about where to look for the bird, but Simon
has indicated that he may not reprint it when his stock has run out.

_________________________________________________________________
Frank O’Connor Birding WA
birdingwa.iinet.net.au
Phone : (08) 9386 5694 Email : foconnor@iinet.net.au



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