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new guide of the birding spots of France

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Old Thursday 30th May 2019, 22:20   #1
pluvialis34
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new guide of the birding spots of France

Hello all,

This recent "Where to Watch Birds in France" book covers over 300 birding spots in France with detailed maps and a dedicated google maps file to upload in GPS devices or smartphone:

https://pelagicpublishing.com/produc...-issa-dalloyau

Might be of use of anyone birding in the country

Cheers
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Old Friday 31st May 2019, 18:39   #2
John Cantelo
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Just had a look at sample pages and it looks very well thought out and detailed. I'm not sure if I'll be getting to France his year but for those that do so, it looks like a very good primer.
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Old Tuesday 18th June 2019, 11:28   #3
Jonathan Williams
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If the totally inaccurate info on my region is continued throughout this book then I wouldn't bother. Little crake is a former breeder on my local patch and is a regular spring and autumn migrant. Little crake was suspected of breeding there and there hasn't been one single record there for at least a decade. Completely and utterly wrong and suggests very lazy research.
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Old Tuesday 18th June 2019, 13:21   #4
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That's the curse of printed books and why I keep my guide to Cadiz online. That way I can easily correct & update it.
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Old Wednesday 17th July 2019, 15:28   #5
Jonathan Williams
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I don't think it's a case of up to date info, there is plenty of that available on the Faune websites around France. I honestly rushed out to buy this to see what it would say on the places, I know very well, the region where I live (Lorraine), and on the the region where I've been on holiday a few times (Hyeres).

I can only say that I was completely disappointed by what I read. I think the authors would have been better served by splitting the country in two and doing a north and south version. They've tried to squeeze far too much info into one book. France is obviously a massive country, and all they've achieved is to scratch the surface. As I've already said, the info on my region is woefully inaccurate, there are so many assumptions that were maybe accurate in the 80s but are so far out of date now.

The info on Hyeres is better, but, criminally, they've missed out on saying that there are guided walks arranged by the LPO into the salines. It's practically the only way you'll get in to both sites. They're run twice weekly at least, and are a good way of raising money for the LPO so why on earth they didn't put this info in is baffling?

For me, the book just skims the surface. It's trying to cover all bases and ends up covering none. It's trying to be both an introduction and a guide to be used by keen, clued up birders, and it falls extremely short if you're in the latter category.

They've missed a massive trick, they should have split the book in two and done a detailed site guide to the north and the south. Instead, they've done a half arsed guide that will appeal to the clueless. Anyone who's a remotely serious birder would probably be disappointed by the lack of detailed info.
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Old Wednesday 17th July 2019, 21:07   #6
lestat
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To be fair, there's two approaches to these books. For me I take any info I can get for a region I'm unfamiliar with and take these written guides more as a rough guideline. Suggestions and possibilities to see certain species, but at the very least nice locations to go birding in general. For this these guides are a nice addition.

The other approach is to go species hunting for a specific target species, this is where you need exact up to date info, and I whole hearted agree that most guides lag behind the facts the moment they're shipped off to be printed.

I also agree that the larger area a book covers, the worse the accuracy is. I prefer the small region guides. For a country as large as France just North and South is probably not enough. They split up Germany in three books and seeing France is about 1,5 x the size of Germany covering a more diverse ecosystem landscape they should probably split france into 4 or 5 books.
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Old Saturday 20th July 2019, 17:00   #7
wwbfauthors
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We are the authors of "Where to Watch Birds in France" and wish to provide some elements following Mr Williams' criticisms.

It is perfectly fair to criticize any work as long as this is done serenely and in a constructive way. However, we regret that Mr Williams adopts an unnecessarily rude and near-insulting tone in his comments, especially so as we offered him, through a private message to which he never replied, to provide more detailed elements to substantiate his concerns and help improving our work in next prints.

We will not enter into details that would be useless to most contributors. However, we would like to note the following points:

- no book can be simultaneously synthetic and exhaustive at the same time. The role of national-level "Where to Watch" books is to provide a general guideline for casual travelers, recently-settled birders or non-expert beginners. What these people look for in such a book is an outline to help setting the major directions of their trip and not to be messed up with a detailed inlook into each single region. This is the role of regional guidebooks, trip reports and local information websites which are currently spreading throughout France, and we do encourage it.

- splitting the book into two has been considered and discarded. First, the delimitation between "south" and "north" would be as debatable as our approach. Many birders would likely need both and using two books instead of a single one would be cumbersome on the field. Second, the two-book approach does not solve the issue of exhaustivity, since an overload of information is exactly what you want to avoid in this kind of book which, again, aims at a synthetic overview.

- in general, these books are not dedicated to expert reader that have birded a region for 10 years or more. Such birders can only be disappointed as they will learn nothing and see only what is missing, from their own viewpoint. This is exactly as if a native of Paris was reading a Lonely Planet about Paris. Local experts know their own region better than anyone, and because of this, they tend to lack the necessary distance to grasp what is useful or superfluous to the viewpoint of a casual visitor preparing a short trip. We had the same tendency when writing our own regions and for this reason we had the book reviewed by various local and non local birders. Definitely, our book is not intended to local birders or visitors willing to concentrate in a very detailed visit of a specific area. There are better resources for them.

- We have checked ourselves about 3/4 of the described sites in the past five years and the information provided has been compared with online data websites. The final product accounts for every single comment of the many local reviewers who have provided excellent feedback. Therefore, it is definitely false to say that the information is not up to date. That said, mistakes do persist, especially in the least known regions such as Lorraine, in which info about birds is notoriously less easy to gather than in other areas. Just as an example, the published chapter about Lorraine has recently been re-read by a local reviewer and he reported only 7 real issues (wrong species at a given season and a couple of ambiguous sentences), affecting barely more than a sentence each in the whole area. This is regrettable but it is the fate of any such guidebook, especially at their first print : even the most experienced bird book authors, reviewed by the best experts, still bear some mistakes. We have clearly accepted it and have provided an email address in the introduction of the book to incite readers to provide feedback, so that all reported errors and recent can be corrected as soon as the first reprint.

- As a conclusion, we believe that Mr Williams' comment essentially show that we've made it to our aim : providing a general overview of the country with synthetic information to the benefit of birders willing to a first outlook into the country, and avoiding to catch up readers with an overload of specific details, leaving these for regional-level books and online resources which are better suited to this aim.

This message has been written and approved by the three authors.
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Old Monday 29th July 2019, 15:55   #8
Jonathan Williams
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Please see my comments between the ***



Quote:
Originally Posted by wwbfauthors View Post
We are the authors of "Where to Watch Birds in France" and wish to provide some elements following Mr Williams' criticisms.

It is perfectly fair to criticize any work as long as this is done serenely and in a constructive way. However, we regret that Mr Williams adopts an unnecessarily rude and near-insulting tone in his comments, especially so as we offered him, through a private message to which he never replied, to provide more detailed elements to substantiate his concerns and help improving our work in next prints.

***

I am a paying customer, who has paid upwards of 30 euros for your book so I am quite entitled to give my opinions on it for the benefit of anyone else who might like to buy it. Rude and near insulting?? I didn't say anything personal about any of the authors, I'm giving my honest opinion on the the product I paid my hard earned money for. Also, if I don't want to reply to a personal message, I don't have to. You are the ones earning money from this venture, so, quite frankly, you can do your own work in substantiating the info you put in your next prints.

***

We will not enter into details that would be useless to most contributors. However, we would like to note the following points:

- no book can be simultaneously synthetic and exhaustive at the same time. The role of national-level "Where to Watch" books is to provide a general guideline for casual travelers, recently-settled birders or non-expert beginners. What these people look for in such a book is an outline to help setting the major directions of their trip and not to be messed up with a detailed inlook into each single region. This is the role of regional guidebooks, trip reports and local information websites which are currently spreading throughout France, and we do encourage it.

***

There is my major problem with the book, it's too synthetic and not detailed enough.

***

- splitting the book into two has been considered and discarded. First, the delimitation between "south" and "north" would be as debatable as our approach. Many birders would likely need both and using two books instead of a single one would be cumbersome on the field. Second, the two-book approach does not solve the issue of exhaustivity, since an overload of information is exactly what you want to avoid in this kind of book which, again, aims at a synthetic overview.

***

Again, I disagree, the more info the better. The more exact you can be to help an English idiot like me who has never been to the area I'm going to on holiday, the better. Please give me more detailed info on EXACTLY where to find the birds, I'm here with my family, I have half a day to go out birding. Do you see what I mean.

***

- in general, these books are not dedicated to expert reader that have birded a region for 10 years or more. Such birders can only be disappointed as they will learn nothing and see only what is missing, from their own viewpoint. This is exactly as if a native of Paris was reading a Lonely Planet about Paris. Local experts know their own region better than anyone, and because of this, they tend to lack the necessary distance to grasp what is useful or superfluous to the viewpoint of a casual visitor preparing a short trip. We had the same tendency when writing our own regions and for this reason we had the book reviewed by various local and non local birders. Definitely, our book is not intended to local birders or visitors willing to concentrate in a very detailed visit of a specific area. There are better resources for them.

***

I completely disagree. I already have the previous Helm Where to Watch Birds in France guide by Dubois, and also the guide to the North of France by Crozier. Imagine that this is 10 years ago, I knew in July 2009 that I would soon be moving to Verdun and was DESPERATE to find any info I could about the local area, not from a twitching point of view, not from an expert point of view, as I do not consider myself anything like an expert in Lorraine even after living here for ten years. I wanted to know what I could see nearby. Can I see Middle-spotted Woodpecker?? Can I see Black Woodpecker?? Is Grey-headed Woodpecker still there? Can I see singing Wryneck? Great Reed Warbler? Collared Flycatcher breeds here, amazing, I didn't know that. I'll be living under the migration path of half the european population of Common Cranes and I'll get to see thousands every year without trying???? I bought those two books and they gave me a reasonably good idea of what was here. If I fast forward a decade and then imagine I had bought your book, I would have found less detailed info on the above in it to describe my local area. If I refer back to my two old books, they still give me a pretty good idea. I don't know when the original two old books were written, but being honest, the info in your new book isn't the modern update I was expecting.

So if you want constructive criticism, you already have it from myself and from another contributor who has said split the book into two or three or four next time. Who cares where you draw the lines on the map as to whether it's north or south or east or west?? It won't be cumbersome to carry in the field as if I'm going on holiday to Hyeres, I'll buy that guide and not the guide that's going to give me info on Ouessant?? Why would I take that into the field if I was going on holiday to the Carmargue? I'd buy the guide to the Carmargue wouldn't I??

***


- We have checked ourselves about 3/4 of the described sites in the past five years and the information provided has been compared with online data websites. The final product accounts for every single comment of the many local reviewers who have provided excellent feedback. Therefore, it is definitely false to say that the information is not up to date. That said, mistakes do persist, especially in the least known regions such as Lorraine, in which info about birds is notoriously less easy to gather than in other areas. Just as an example, the published chapter about Lorraine has recently been re-read by a local reviewer and he reported only 7 real issues (wrong species at a given season and a couple of ambiguous sentences), affecting barely more than a sentence each in the whole area. This is regrettable but it is the fate of any such guidebook, especially at their first print : even the most experienced bird book authors, reviewed by the best experts, still bear some mistakes. We have clearly accepted it and have provided an email address in the introduction of the book to incite readers to provide feedback, so that all reported errors and recent can be corrected as soon as the first reprint.

- As a conclusion, we believe that Mr Williams' comment essentially show that we've made it to our aim : providing a general overview of the country with synthetic information to the benefit of birders willing to a first outlook into the country, and avoiding to catch up readers with an overload of specific details, leaving these for regional-level books and online resources which are better suited to this aim.


***

I think you should be providing more than synthetic information, and that's what disappointed me so much, the Helm guide is the same size as your book, is at least 15 years old, and if you compare the two then, in my opinion, there isn't all that much difference, and that, is in the internet age and with the utterly, monumentally brilliant work of genius that was the Atlas des Oiseaux, I can't quite believe that you've not managed to advance much on the old Helm book. As I say above, that's my personal opinion on a product I paid for. Please do a much more detailed version, it's what people want!!

***


This message has been written and approved by the three authors.
"As a conclusion, we believe that Mr Williams' comment essentially show that we've made it to our aim : providing a general overview of the country with synthetic information to the benefit of birders willing to a first outlook into the country, and avoiding to catch up readers with an overload of specific details, leaving these for regional-level books and online resources which are better suited to this aim."

"An introduction to France for anyone visiting with birds in mind, from casual birdwatchers checking a bird that flies over the terrace during a family holiday to addict birders who would sell their souls for a dream species or a record-breaking checklist."

Maybe you would like to try to agree with your own publicity for the book too? Either it's for birders with a first outlook, or for addict birders, you said yourselves, it can't be for both and yet, that's not what is written on your publisher's website.

Last edited by Jonathan Williams : Monday 29th July 2019 at 19:44.
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Old Friday 2nd August 2019, 17:57   #9
Jonathan Williams
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If you ever do decide to split France into 2 or 3 or 4 I will buy all the books.
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Old Wednesday 14th August 2019, 06:17   #10
audave
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For me the book is great overview of the best birding areas of France, attractively packaged with excellent maps / access details, including helpful suggested itineraries and information on the habitats and species likely - and to be searched for.

The book will get you easily to, and around, nice birding locations. In my local area of southern France the information is very good and it highlights well the bird diversity of the region.

These guides are always ‘a work in progress’, a subjective selection of sites and of course unfortunately minor inaccuracies can be found in any guide. This book however is a fine complement to more detailed and sometimes more up to date local guidebooks, trip reports and websites.

It’s the birding guide book I was looking for when I first came to France in the 1970s !
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