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Old Thursday 16th February 2017, 17:06   #1
Stonefaction
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Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East : A Photographic Guide

Anybody else bought this (by Jiguet & Audevard)? My pre-ordered copy arrived today and I do like the look of it. One of the things that I'm liking about it is the inclusion of introduced species (such as the Parrotbills in Italy, the Leiothrix in France/Spain, Weavers and Bishops from Portugal) as well as a few 'new' birds that I haven't heard of elsewhere - "Ambiguous" Reed Warbler and "Thick Billed" Reed Bunting to name a couple. Also photos of 'Mediterranean' Shag which I haven't seen anywhere else.

Dimensions are very similar to the Collins and assuming that it is accurate, it looks to be a nice companion to the Collins. It isn't as comprehensive with regards plumage/age of every species as WildGuides Britain's Birds book, but there still appears to be plenty of info/photos crammed in.
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Old Thursday 16th February 2017, 20:49   #2
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.............One of the things that I'm liking about it is the inclusion of introduced species (such as the Parrotbills in Italy, the Leiothrix in France/Spain, Weavers and Bishops from Portugal) as well as a few 'new' birds that I haven't heard of elsewhere - "Ambiguous" Reed Warbler and "Thick Billed" Reed Bunting to name a couple. Also photos of 'Mediterranean' Shag which I haven't seen anywhere else.

...............
The inclusion of those introduced species may well be the decisive point for me to buy the book. They are all too often treated with neglect. Thanks for the info!
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Old Thursday 16th February 2017, 22:45   #3
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Good to hear it's out but I fear that my local bookshops are unlikely to carry it. Looking at pages posted of the original French version (http://www.delachauxetniestle.com/ou.../9782603021675) it seems to be better than other Europe-wide photo guides. However, the Wildguides book still seems to me to be miles ahead in terms of layout, design and comprehensive coverage so I'd be inclined to hold out for the promised 'European' version of that guide .... who am I kidding, I'll buy it for sure since I'm an addict!
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Old Thursday 16th February 2017, 23:10   #4
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who am I kidding, I'll buy it for sure since I'm an addict!
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Old Friday 17th February 2017, 07:16   #5
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Having bought the French language Rare Birds book by the same duo, I was never in any doubt as to whether or not I'd be buying this one, when I saw it was coming out (I'd almost bought the French language version on the strength of the Rare book). I agree about the layout and comprehensive coverage of Britain's Birds being superior. The coverage of plumage variation etc in the French book is certainly less comprehensive but still decent. Comparing it to the Rare book, there are less photos used (not surprising given an extra 400 species) and some of the photo choices do seem slightly unusual but for a photo guide with such wide coverage it certainly brings something extra to the party with the coverage of the introduced species.

Introduced species and/or escapes in the book that I haven't seen (that I remember - some mentioned in back section of Collins) in other European fieldguides - Black Swan, White Faced Whistling Duck, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Reeve's Pheasant, California Quail, Northern Bobwhite, Erckel's Francolin, Pink Backed Pelican, Indian Pond Heron, Chinese Pond Heron, Sacred Ibis, Lesser/Chilean/American Flamingo, Fischer's Lovebird, Monk Parakeet, Red Billed Leiothrix, Vinous Throated Parrotbill, House Crow, Common Myna, Crested Myna, Indian Silverbill, African Silverbill, Tricoloured Munia, Common Waxbill, Red Avadavat, Iago Sparrow, Black Headed Weaver, Yellow Crowned Bishop. There may be some I've missed but that's the bulk of them.

While compiling the above list I did notice at least 1 omission that is in the Rare book - Sulphur Bellied Warbler. There are quite a number of African species which have been recorded once or twice in the book, that I haven't seen elsewhere also (other than the Rare book).

John, I bought the book mainly because I'm addicted too.
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Old Friday 17th February 2017, 14:28   #6
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Re Pink Backed Pelican: I know this has been discussed in the (way) past: how common is it really as a captive bird vs the potential as a genuine vagrant? I remember a discussion with a friend who had not gone to see one of these on the thought it would be an escape -- but he later found out that a couple of month before there had been a genuine flux north in Africa compared to where they normally lived and that it was supposedly rare in captivity.

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Old Friday 17th February 2017, 14:57   #7
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................... I bought the book mainly because I'm addicted too.
Talking about addicts, I could not resist either!
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Old Friday 17th February 2017, 19:56   #8
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Text & some plates of the English version can be seen here - https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...page&q&f=false
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Old Friday 17th February 2017, 20:12   #9
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Text & some plates of the English version can be seen here - https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...page&q&f=false
Depending on where in the world you are ...

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Old Saturday 18th February 2017, 19:11   #10
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Nipped into town to buy a copy from my local Waterstones - despite being a few pounds more I like to buy books locally when I can rather than just online - and naturally they didn't have a copy on the shelves nor in their warehouse. That's the 4th time in a row they've not had wildlife/bird books I've wanted (all from mainstream publishers) - no wonder they're unable to compete with the internet!
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Old Saturday 18th February 2017, 20:31   #11
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Re Pink Backed Pelican: I know this has been discussed in the (way) past: how common is it really as a captive bird vs the potential as a genuine vagrant? I remember a discussion with a friend who had not gone to see one of these on the thought it would be an escape -- but he later found out that a couple of month before there had been a genuine flux north in Africa compared to where they normally lived and that it was supposedly rare in captivity.

Niels
Well, it was in my Heinzel, Fitter and Parslow Collins as a wild bird in Egypt in previous times, so presume it was thought to occur there ... or is that not what you meant?
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Old Saturday 18th February 2017, 22:22   #12
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It was brought up in a previous post in a list of
Quote:
Introduced species and/or escapes in the book
I was asking if that was correct to place it in that list or if it would be better to place it in a list of natural vagrants. Edit: in both cases, it is good that it is included in the book!

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Old Sunday 19th February 2017, 07:03   #13
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There's a fairly large population oft free-flying birds in southern France with at least 20 birds roaming the area of Narbonne. Friends also Bad a Great White Pelican together with those.
I'm not sure though if they reproduce outside the reserve africaine and how far they roam

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Old Sunday 19th February 2017, 17:55   #14
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Niels, what the book says about Pink-Backed Pelicans is "Small pelican of African Origin. Escapes and free-flying birds in S France. .....". The other 2 Pelican species also mention possible escapes in the text too. Also the list was my own compilation, rather than the authors, so the inclusion in it was solely down to me (though mostly based on the species text).

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Old Sunday 19th February 2017, 18:56   #15
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And there seems to be more escaped birds around than I imagined. Thanks for the info!

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Old Wednesday 22nd February 2017, 17:07   #16
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I picked up my copy today and my initial impression was quite favourable given that I'm not a huge fan of photoguides. I hope to write a more measured review anon but my immediate reaction was that the authors' aim to cover all species (inc. vagrants) in an easily portable book has (understandably) compromised the range of photos showing various plumages/postures. Its layout/format is far more conventional than other recent photoguides (Wildguides & Crossley). As others have noted the coverage of introduced species is particularly good (although not comprehensive). It doesn't come close to challenging the primacy of Collins Bird Guide but it's a reasonable quick photographic reference.
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Old Friday 24th February 2017, 20:02   #17
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Whilst I still quite like the guide the penny has just dropped that whilst the original French book as simply called “Tous les oiseaux d'Europe”, this English version has added North Africa & the Middle East to the title. This is clearly nonsense since the introduction is obviously centred on Europe and the species texts repeatedly refer to birds from these regions as 'vagrants'. Worse a good many species found in both areas are omitted. Those included clearly only gain their place by virtue of having been recorded in Europe as vagrants. It should more properly be called "Birds of Europe (inc. the Azores, Canaries, Madeira & Cyprus). Being published by the American firm Princeton is no excuse!
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Old Saturday 25th February 2017, 20:02   #18
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............. Those included clearly only gain their place by virtue of having been recorded in Europe as vagrants. It should more properly be called "Birds of Europe (inc. the Azores, Canaries, Madeira & Cyprus). Being published by the American firm Princeton is no excuse!
I have come to the same conclusion, though I had not realized where the oddity came from. Definitely a misleading title.

Nevertheless, I like the book, not as a FG, but as a supplement to study things at home. The "Peterson" type bars with text as in the "Collins" are excellent too. Often, I find new elements, particularly regarding subspecies differentiation.

Photos definitely show that field marks are not always as prominent as drawings suggest. But the limited coverage of comparative illustrations such as tail patterns in wheatears clearly shows the deficiencies of the photo approach.
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Old Saturday 25th February 2017, 21:11   #19
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Photos definitely show that field marks are not always as prominent as drawings suggest. But the limited coverage of comparative illustrations such as tail patterns in wheatears clearly shows the deficiencies of the photo approach.
Or is it that photos freeze the moment in a way which does not show field marks in the way in which we experience them in the field?

I agree regarding things like wheatear tails. Sagely, 'Britain's Birds' (currently in my view by far the best photo guide available this side of the Atlantic) sidesteps the issue with regard to wheatear tails by using drawings to illustrate the point! If the promised European version of this book comes to fruition I think it will be a significant advance on Jiguet & Audevard. Until then I think it can claim the crown as the best such guide available in Europe.

I'm just putting some finishing touches to a review of the guide which I hope to put online within a day or two ...
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Old Monday 6th March 2017, 12:05   #20
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I've now added a review on my blog which includes some illustrations from the book with additional observations added to the captions. These include noting that the single photo of Lesser Whitefront shows a bird apparently in captivity as the wings look to be clipped (thus not showing the diagnostic longer wings) and questioning if the Great Egret with very bright legs is the eastern form (modesta) rather than the European one see - http://birdingcadizprovince.weebly.c...ographic-guide.

As it's a bit long but I've moved my conclusion to the start for those who don't want to plough through all my comments:

Taken together the illustrations and text make this book more functional than most photoguides. Although including extraordinarily rare birds it seems more aimed at the beginner/intermediate birder than wannabe expert as crucial details (and photos) are omitted. However, although I have a number of reservations, the whole somehow transcends my caveats to be by far the best photoguide to European birds on the market. It certainly doesn't replace the Collins Guide but complements it particularly if you want photos of all European species in one handy package. In this context, it's well worth buying. Surprisingly, perhaps, it's nearest rival photoguide is WildGuides' 'Britain's Birds' which covers Europe as well as this guide covers North Africa and the Middle East! 'Britain's Birds' is by far the better book as it has many more photos, more comprehensive coverage of plumages and birds in flight, much larger images, a far better thought out text and a flexible design. However, it has the serious drawback of being not only significantly larger and heavier but also only covers the c600 species recorded in Britain. Essentially you can have comprehensive coverage or portability but not both. Until the promised European version of the Wildguides book appears Jiguet & Audevard look set to be the definitive photoguide on European birds (although not of North Africa or the Middle East!). Recommended (with some reservations).

Since the advent of the authoritative and superbly illustrated 'Collins Bird Guide' in 1999, some may question whether there's any need for a new field guide on the birds of Europe (plus North Africa and the Middle East) at all. However, canny publishers have spotted that there is still a niche for guides that can offer something different such as using photographs rather than artwork or focussing on a more limited area. 'Britain's Birds' (Wildguides) combined both approaches by using photos and restricting the geographical range. Now a new photographic guide purporting to cover the same area as the 'Collins Bird Guide' has entered the fray - the. Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East by Frédéric Jiguet & Aurélien Audevard. So how does it shape up?

Unfortunately, the English title of this guide is misleading since many North African and Middle Eastern species are not included. In North-west Africa alone a dozen species are missing (e.g. Dark Chanting Goshawk, a couple of sandgrouse, Levaillant's Woodpecker, a trio of larks and a brace of wheatars) and there must be two or three times more left out elsewhere. The original French title (and that of other translations) -“Tous les Oiseaux d'Europe” - gives the game away. This book covers all species recorded in Europe and birds from the wider region only scrape in as vagrants to Europe. You need to peruse the species texts to realise that their definition of 'Europe' includes Cyprus, Lesbos and the 'European' Atlantic islands although the eastern border is irritatingly left undefined. Surprisingly, Pharaoh Owl is included as it's claimed that it “could potentially colonise southern Spain” which seems optimistic given that it's never been recorded there. Remarkably, by describing and illustrating all vagrants the final species total is 860 which is substantially more than the Collins Guide (715 fully treated plus c90 vagrants and escapees covered briefly).

The new guide promises the reader a creditable 2,200 photos although by encompassing so many species this means an average of only 2.5 photos per bird. In comparison, the Collins Guide, which is almost exactly the same size and with the same number of pages, has an average of 4 illustrations per species. The Wildguides book, which covers over 260 fewer species has a larger format and over a hundred more pages, manages an average of 5.4 photos per species. So although a generous provision, it is inevitable that this book shows fewer plumages and fewer birds in flight. These omissions sometimes can make a difference between identifying a bird or not; the lack of any flight shots of either merganser is but one example of this. The photos are of a good standard but some of the wildfowl look like capitive birds as they seem to be pinioned ...

After a good, albeit somewhat brief introduction, the book gets down to business with over 420 pages of photos and descriptions. Both the illustrations and text share the same page with, where appropriate, a map. The photos are well annotated with useful comments on key ID features. The photographs have been “photo-shopped” so that most background has been “tippexed” out with only a ghosted disc remaining round the bird (or part thereof). The photographs themselves are generally of a good quality although some are a little small making details hard to discern. As a general rule, the images tend to be larger than those in the Collins Guide (but 30%-50% smaller than those in Wildguides' 'Britain's Birds'). However, painted plates of birds in identical poses, without distracting shadows and carefully delineated to highlight key points mean that it can be harder to distinguish detail in photos than paintings of the same (or even smaller) size.

​More often than not two species are covered per page but quite a few are squeezed in three and a fewer still four to a page (esp. Nearctic vagrant passerines). Another sixty odd species, often (but not always) those with several distinct subspecies or a complex range of plumages have a page or more to luxuriate in. So it's not a surprise to find species with very variable plumages – buzzards, eagles, some harriers, all larger gulls, and so on have a page or more to themselves. Predictably, Yellow Wagtail comes off best with no less than three pages – generous perhaps but it's good to see those familiar green, grey or black heads attached to a body for once! Rare shrikes in the old Isabelline complex are particularly well treated. Yet such generous full page coverage is also enjoyed by far less variable species like Pheasant, Brown Booby, Starling, Waxwing and Pine Grosbeak. Whatever the criteria used to determine the space allowed for each species, the criteria seem haphazardly applied as Common Redpoll (a variable species with several races) only gets half a page. Some fairly common species too get shorter shrift than one might expect (e.g. one photo of Woodcock compared to two for Pin-tailed Snipe).

What distinguishes this guide from any of its rivals is that, as the original title suggests, it really does include all the birds found in Europe. Although rarities are often treated in less detail (in text and photos) in some cases, the level of detail and illustration even exceeds that used for common and widespread European species. It is particularly strong on its coverage of different races some of which have half a page to themselves (on the downside in a number of cases this extra coverage is several pages adrift from the main text and not always well cross referenced). The outstanding example being “Ambiguous Reed Warbler” a very recent (and still controversial) race of European Reed Warbler found in North African and Spain (which may even be a race of African Reed Warbler). Oddly, though, redpolls are less well treated than one might expect. Naturally, some of the larger gulls have all of their various races depicted and described (although not always to the level really needed since that would require a couple of pages at least. On the other hand coverage of stonechats and 'Isabelline/Brown/Red-tailed Shrikes, for example, is better than one might expect. Even so, there are times (e.g. depicting wheatear tails) when it cries out for a couple of comparative, even diagramatic. illustrations rather than photos ('Britain's Birds' is far more pragmatic in this respect).

Vagrants include species recorded at least as recently as October 2015 and those with only one or two records. It's a pity that the relative rarity wasn't more clearly expressed or indeed, given most copies will be bought in the UK, it hasn't got a simple key to UK status (as per the old Heinzel guide). Whilst in many ways this inclusiveness is welcome, it does to some degree compromise the coverage of commoner species that birdwatchers are far more likely to see. My personal choice would have been to drop the extreme vagrants with only a handful of European records to improve coverage of birds which observers have a real chance of finding for themselves. In some ways, it is a surprise that this strategy hasn't been used since the authors (and the original publisher) have already produced a very similar guide devoted entirely to European rarities ('Tous les Oiseaux rares d'Europe' which coveres 456 species in 365 pages & 1850 photos) At the very least I would rather have rarities were consigned to an appendix to minimise confusion like to old 'Shell Guide').

Another area where this guide excels is with regard to introduced species. We have illustrations and text not only for widespread feral species like Ring-necked Parakeet but also less familiar (and more restricted ones) like Vinous-throated Parrotbill and Erkel's Francolin. Spanish based birders will welcome the inclusion of Black-headed Weaver and Yellow-crowned Bishop even if the text suggests they're restricted to Portugal (the former and to a lesser degree the latter are increasingly found in several sites in western Andalucia). Conversely, the Red Avadavat's range is given only as 'Spain' whereas it's also found widely (if thinly) in Portugal. Strangely, though, the distinctive red male is not illustrated only the duller female (although the sex isn't given on the photo). Inevitably, some species with feral populations are omitted (e.g. several parrot species regularly found in Spain) but the authors deserve great credit for including as many as they have.
The text is rather brief often having fewer than half the number of words than the descriptions found in the Collins Guide. Unlike that book, it also fails to highlight key points in italic or bold (which improves functionality). Even though the text is usefully supplemented by annotations around the photographs, the text is not always sufficiently thorough as some useful identification features have been not been mentioned (e.g. the white underwing of adult male Lesser Kestrel). Vocalisations are also treated somewhat briefly with many species lacking any description of their song. Some descriptions are even misleading such as noting that the Iberian Chiffchaff's call is 'similar' to Willow Warbler whereas its Reed Bunting like down slurred call is diagnostic. That said, although brief, the text in conjunction with the photographs should allow you to identify most of the birds you see although inadequate to identify some very similar species or some female/juveniles birds (some not all being described let alone illustrated).

The three colour maps show breeding, resident and winter ranges (but not occurrence on passage). They are invariably small (being a little smaller than those in the Collins Guide) and seem a little more generalised than the maps in that guide. Even so, they generally provide a useful 'broad-brush' guide to distribution. In some cases, though, the status of some species is very optimistic! Fortunately, the book follows the same familiar taxonomic order as used in the Collins Guide rather than the new scientifically rigorous but very impractical new order some books have opted for.

​Taken together the illustrations and text make this book more functional than most photoguides. Although including extraordinarily rare birds it seems more aimed at the beginner/intermediate birder than wannabe expert as crucial details (and photos) are omitted. However, although I have a number of reservations, the whole somehow transcends my caveats to be by far the best photoguide to European birds on the market. It certainly doesn't replace the Collins Guide but compliments it particularly if you want photos of all European species in one handy package. In this context, it's well worth buying. Surprisingly, perhaps, it's nearest rival photoguide is WildGuides' 'Britain's Birds' which covers Europe as well as this guide covers North Africa and the Middle East! 'Britain's Birds' is by far the better book as it has many more photos, more comprehensive coverage of plumages and birds in flight, much larger images, a far better thought out text and a flexible design. However, it has the serious drawback of being not only significantly larger and heavier but also only covers the c600 species recorded in Britain. Essentially you can have comprehensive coverage or portability but not both. Until the promised European version of the Wildguides book appears Jiguet & Audevard look set to be the definitive photoguide on European birds (although not of North Africa or the Middle East!). Recommended (with some reservations).


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