Bird Watching Books
So many bird watching books, but which ones to choose? As you might have guessed from the title I'm a little bit passionate about the following three books! One is the definitive guide to all the birds of Britain and Europe. One is an inspiring and humourous introduction to birdwatching from one of the UK's top writers. The final selection is a great bird watching book for children.
Collins Bird Guide The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe (2nd Edition) By Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney, Dan Zetterstrom & Peter J.Grant.
The team of authors seem very confident in claiming that their guide is the most complete guide but they are entirely justified. Although this is a complete guide and covers all birds likely to be seen in Europe including many rarities, I recommend it for all birdwatchers including beginners. I do not see the point of buying an incomplete guide and then having to buy further guides as you progress. The guide is just as helpful for the more common birds as it is for rarities.
For every species there are wonderfully clear illustrations that are not only accurate but also seem to capture the essence of each bird. The attention to detail and level of artistry is unsurpassable. Wherever necessary there are illustrations for the different plumages by gender and/or age. In addition all the markings in flight are shown. All of these illustrations are backed up by information about the key markings and how to distinguish between similar species. In addition there is information about calls, songs, migration, size and habitat. In short, using this book gives you the best possible chance of correctly identifying any bird seen in Britain or Europe.
How to be a Bad Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes
If the Collins Bird Guide is perspiration then "How to be a Bad Birdwatcher" is inspiration. Simon Barnes is one the UK's top writers and journalists and a keen birdwatcher. He also write a regular feature in Royal Society for the Protection of Bird's (RSPB) quarterly magazine. In his book he explains why we should all strive to be "bad birdwatchers". A bad birdwatcher is not a twitcher obsessed with racing across the country to spot the latest rarity and will not bore you about his very expensive telescope. Bad birdwatchers take delight in the birds seen every day, whether its the garden birds seen on the bird table or a kestrel hovering by a motorway. All that is needed to start "bad birdwatching" is a pair of eyes and a sense of wonder and an appreciation of beauty.
The author shows us how bird watching has inspired him throughout his life, how it has brought him friendship and even how it allowed him to bond with his father. He writes with integrity and openness but mainly with the sense of humour that has become his trademark. This book will make you laugh, it might make you cry but, hopefully, it will inspire you to become a "bad birdwatcher".
RSPB Children's Guide to Birdwatching
The RSPB have produced an excellent primer for children. I know that in my review of Collins Bird Guide (see above) I said that I did not believe in buying incomplete guides, well here's the exception. This book is not a complete guide but it is a superb introduction for children. Its aimed at ages eight to twelve years old, but I think children as young as five will enjoy looking at this book. It has loads of colour photos and illustrations. The text is easy to read and covers all the basics such as indentification, song, habitat and behaviour. It also covers how to feed birds, where to watch birds and gives children the information about organisations and websites so they can take their new hobby further. This book would make a great birthday or Christmas gift for a child.