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Old Monday 8th July 2013, 19:02   #51
pshute
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I have read that the Pizzey and Knight guide is also available for iPad but can't seem to find where I can buy it online. I've got the lite (free) version of the Morcombe but would like to have a look at others before I decide which to buy. Are there any other electronic versions of Australian field guides becoming available in the next few months?
It's not yet available, as far as I know. You can register your email adress to be informed when it is:
http://www.gibbonmm.com.au/tour/PKBA_PC.aspx

I've no idea how far off it is, or if any others are coming soon. I'm pretty sure it's the Morcombe app or nothing at the moment.
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Old Tuesday 16th July 2013, 11:44   #52
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The Morcombe Illustrations are atrocious especially for shorebirds and petrels. Considering that these are the toughest groups to id in Australia I consider this to be a great failing for a field guide.

The text is fantastic though.
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Old Monday 26th August 2013, 12:27   #53
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Chris you are in luck. CSIRO publishing has a team working on a new field guide to Australian birds and Jeff Davies and Peter Marsack (another HANZAB illustrator) will be the artists. There are three authors of the text and I have heard that the aim is to produce something of comparable quality to the European Collins Bird Guide. I don't know what the timing is - my guess is it's a couple of years away.

Murray
Well, that was posted in Jan 2011 and a couple of years have gone by .... any further news of this opus?
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Old Monday 26th August 2013, 13:04   #54
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The Morcombe Illustrations are atrocious
The text is fantastic though.
Can't argue with that.... I mostly have the Morcombe app on my phone for the calls which is really very useful indeed even if I still get caught out from time to time, such as a very atypical call that Fuscous Honeys were making at Kaban the other week.
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Old Monday 26th August 2013, 14:19   #55
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Well, that was posted in Jan 2011 and a couple of years have gone .... any further news of this opus?
I think it'll still take some time, but still in the works. I may be wrong though
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Old Tuesday 27th August 2013, 10:58   #56
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I think it'll still take some time, but still in the works. I may be wrong though
Yes that's my understanding. The team are still at work; from what I last heard it's still far enough away that no one is talking about target publication dates yet. I have seen one sample plate but that's all.
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Old Wednesday 2nd September 2015, 13:42   #57
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Two years have passed since this thread went quiet.

Is there any news on the publication of the new "Collins" type field guide?
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Old Wednesday 2nd September 2015, 19:08   #58
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I haven't heard anything. In the meantime, the Pizzey app has come out. Many consider that the illustrations are better than the Morcombe app, but that the call recordings aren't. I've got both, and I find Morcombe easier to use.
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Old Saturday 6th May 2017, 02:45   #59
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The new CSIRO Australian Bird Guide is out, it has now even reached north Queensland, after having been sighted in the UK and Japan some time earlier!
This is now the state of the art guide for Australia, being authoritative, more or else up-to-date with IOC taxonomy (5.4 was the cut off so they seem to think that did not include Hornbill Friarbird for some reason, I must check back as I think it did), and with very good illustrations by 3 artists.
It's a heavy beast, it weighs more than Pizzey and Knight, so not one to slip in the pants pocket unless you want to lose 'em.
Text is compact but good and opposite the plates, with the maps at the bottom of the text page- this causes some issues as they are necessarily very small, so reading and seeing which subspecies becomes hard, though it works well enough with monotypic species or those with just a couple of taxa.

Rarities from the various offshore islands (Christmas, Cocos etc) are scattered throughout but are not too intrusive, and do make for handy comparisons.

I found the omission of body length strange, we now have to learn how to compute relative size by wing length, all very scientifically rigorous no doubt but a pain in the butt in practical terms. I am sure this was discussed at length but it will take some getting used to....

So, it's up in the same general league as the Collins Guide for European species and the Sibley guides to North America, now the gold standard for field guides. Well done to the authors Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers, Rohan Clarke and the artists Jeff Davies, Peter Marsack and Kim Franklin.

Price seems to vary enormously, anywhere from AU$39.95 to about $60.00, so shop around!
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Old Saturday 6th May 2017, 09:21   #60
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I found the omission of body length strange, we now have to learn how to compute relative size by wing length, all very scientifically rigorous no doubt but a pain in the butt in practical terms. I am sure this was discussed at length but it will take some getting used to....
It seems doubly bizarre given that they include weight "as it gives a helpful index of the bulk of a bird" which, of course, is only true if you've some idea of the body length which they don't give! It's not as if there isn't room as it could easily be added (and I'd be tempted to pencil it in from other sources). Perverse!

I've also now had time to compare it with the Collins Bird Guide particularly those species (mainly waders) that they have in common. I'd say that the text is far better written in Collins; more concise & accessible. On this basis I also reckon that, although remaining as thick, the page size could have been a third smaller making it more of a field guide.
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Old Saturday 6th May 2017, 18:00   #61
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It seems doubly bizarre given that they include weight "as it gives a helpful index of the bulk of a bird" which, of course, is only true if you've some idea of the body length which they don't give! It's nor as if there isn't room as it could easily be added (and I'd be tempted to pencil it in from other sources). Perverse!

I've also now had time to compare it with the Collins Bird Guide particularly those species (mainly waders) that they have in common. I'd say that the text is far better written in Collins; more concise & accessible. On this basis I also reckon that, although remaining as thick, the page size could have been a third smaller making it more of a field guide.
Thanks for your critical additions, John. It often takes a view from the outside to get past the local pride, I guess.

I should add that Australia has had some very fine FGs before this new one has now been added.
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Old Wednesday 10th May 2017, 22:03   #62
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I got my copy yesterday and have had a bit of a look through. It's obviously very good and a noticeable improvement on all of the existing Australian guides. I've always been puzzled by people who claimed that there was no big need for an improved Australian field guide. The existing ones all had their strengths but all had significant flaws, certainly in comparison to the Collins guide. This book definitely provides something that's comparable to the Collins and Sibley guides.

On first impressions I'd agree that it's maybe not quite as good as the Collins. The illustrations, while very good, don't always seem quite as believable as most of the Collins ones. They sometimes seem a bit too clean and static looking - very slightly like they're pictures of stuffed birds rather than living ones (particularly the raptors). A few (particularly those by Jeff Davies) look a little bit anaemic, although the ones by Peter Marsack (most of the passerines) seem more saturated. The text seems good but I'd agree that it's not quite as efficient and to the ID point as the Collins. Sometimes they seem to get a bit carried away with the space they have and mention things that aren't that relevant e.g. the breeding habitat of vagrant North American waders. In the few cases I've compared against the Collins, it's not as comparative in the ID descriptions i.e. it doesn't say as much about how to distinguish species x from similar species y. It does do this, but could perhaps do it more in some cases.

There are some very good things though. An obvious thing is that they really seem to illustrate a lot of plumages and variations. For example, there are 14 illustrations for Long-tailed Skua, across a very wide range of plumages. There's also fairly liberal use of more impressionistic, 'jizzy', in-habitat illustrations of how birds might look in real life - something I like to see and that the Collins pioneered. These aren't as frequent as in the Collins but they're much more regularly used than in the Sibley.

It's also worth pointing out that this book isn't just useful for those birding in Australia. The treatment of Asiatic shorebirds might be the best in any current guide. If you're into seabirds you should also get this book. By my reckoning there 86 species of tubenose described and illustrated over 45 pages, in most cases with 5-10 illustrations per species. They also cover a few 'emerging' species in this group (e.g. 'New Caledonian Storm-Petrel'), which is nice to see.

Anyway, it's really good. Well done to all the people involved.
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Old Wednesday 10th May 2017, 22:16   #63
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I've always been puzzled by people who claimed that there was no big need for an improved Australian field guide.
I certainly asked the question 'is there the market for another Australian guide', I personally never said anything about the need or otherwise for an 'improved' one and I can't recall that anyone else did? The fact that it's not so long since the last one was published (2012), made me wonder how much better it could reasonably be.

I had no intention of buying another Aussie field guide but the glowing reviews convinced me and I have to say that I am more than happy that I bought it.


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Old Thursday 11th May 2017, 08:02   #64
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I certainly asked the question 'is there the market for another Australian guide', I personally never said anything about the need or otherwise for an 'improved' one and I can't recall that anyone else did? The fact that it's not so long since the last one was published (2012), made me wonder how much better it could reasonably be.

I had no intention of buying another Aussie field guide but the glowing reviews convinced me and I have to say that I am more than happy that I bought it.


A
Wasn't thinking of you in particular Andy, though I think something along those lines has been posted on several occasions over many years on here (I can't remember exact details though!).

One other interesting point to make about the guide is the ordering of species along, somewhat, habitat based lines i.e. starting with 'Marine and coastal' and then going through 'Freshwater' to 'Land'. It's actually still somewhat in a 'normal' order (the passerines are all still in the second half, even the ones that live in freshwater habitats). It does mean that some groups that might ordinarily be far apart in a field guide but close together in the field are a bit nearer each other in this book (e.g. rails and herons, skuas and petrels).
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Old Thursday 11th May 2017, 12:29   #65
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There's also fairly liberal use of more impressionistic, 'jizzy', in-habitat illustrations of how birds might look in real life - something I like to see and that the Collins pioneered.
"jizzy" in-habitat illustrations are actually frequent in pre-Collins guides as well. I've misplaced most of my oldest guides, but still have my 1970 version of The Hamlyn Guide to Birds of Britain and Europe. It has numerous such illustrations, e.g. on the bottom of p. 131 is an illustration titled "flock of Sanderlings and Ringed Plovers on a beach." (The book was illustrated by the American artist Arthur Singer, who also illustrated the 60s era Birds of North America by Robbins & Brunn, afaik the first guide to put maps, text, and illustrations all on the same page).

More to the point of the present thread, I have the eighth edition of Simpson and Day's Birds of Australia. It utilizes in-habitat jizzy illustrations to a greater extent than any other guide I've seen (except the photo-based Crossley guides). Not sure if the pre-Collins editions of that guide did the same, but it wouldn't surprise me.
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Old Thursday 11th May 2017, 21:04   #66
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One other interesting point to make about the guide is the ordering of species along, somewhat, habitat based lines i.e. starting with 'Marine and coastal' and then going through 'Freshwater' to 'Land'. It's actually still somewhat in a 'normal' order (the passerines are all still in the second half, even the ones that live in freshwater habitats). It does mean that some groups that might ordinarily be far apart in a field guide but close together in the field are a bit nearer each other in this book (e.g. rails and herons, skuas and petrels).
That's what struck me, too, and I'll be using it in August and September when Pete Colston and I do an old farts trip to the Kimberley, but also stop off at Broome Obs!

Does anyone know if there will be an app version with sounds, anytime soon?
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Old Friday 12th May 2017, 04:04   #67
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Does anyone know if there will be an app version with sounds, anytime soon?
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Not any time soon. The authors have said it has been discussed, but it will be a decision the publishers make once they have an idea of sales numbers for the book.

Mind you I am not sure if good sales of the book or bad sales of the book would make an app version more likely! Probably they wait until we've all bought the book version before asking us to pay for it a second time.
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Old Friday 12th May 2017, 18:28   #68
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Not any time soon. The authors have said it has been discussed, but it will be a decision the publishers make once they have an idea of sales numbers for the book.

Mind you I am not sure if good sales of the book or bad sales of the book would make an app version more likely! Probably they wait until we've all bought the book version before asking us to pay for it a second time.
Hi, Murray - thanks for the info!

Any chance of you being up in the Top End, Kimberleys, or Broome mid-August to late September?
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Old Saturday 13th May 2017, 06:41   #69
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There are some very good things though. An obvious thing is that they really seem to illustrate a lot of plumages and variations. For example, there are 14 illustrations for Long-tailed Skua, across a very wide range of plumages.
Yes, that is a good aspect in that group. However, the range of illustrations for the large gulls, especially kelp gull and Pacific gull, is much less complete, and these are commoner species in Australia. Eight species of vagrant gull each get about as much text and illustration as each of the three breeding species. Using just this book, how would one tell that a subadult large gull was eg kelp rather than vagrant eg lesser black-backed? Comparisons within the text are mostly with respect to other ages of the species under discussion, rather than same age of different species. Much of the text in Collins is to do with comparisons with other species.

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