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Birding Pocket Field Guide

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Old Saturday 26th January 2019, 20:08   #1
philipn
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Birding Pocket Field Guide

As a new birder of nearly 50 years old, I could do with some help in choosing a guide so I can identify birds of the UK.
There are lots of old articles on the internet about which guides are good but are mostly out of date now. I have a copy of the Mitchell Beazley guide which has the pages falling out now and I was looking for something along those lines as this is out of print now.
It seems that the Collins or Collins/BTO or RSPB are the ones which are recommended (by Amazon:)) but I'd like to know if someone with experience would recommend a book for beginners to skim through on seeing a new species [given that every species is new to me] which ideally isn't a major inconvenience to carry around which it sounds as if the Collins Guide (Svenson & Mullarney) is.
Are there still books or is id just done by app these days??!
Any ideas would be grate!
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Old Saturday 26th January 2019, 21:56   #2
Stephen Dunstan
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Originally Posted by philipn View Post
As a new birder of nearly 50 years old, I could do with some help in choosing a guide so I can identify birds of the UK.
There are lots of old articles on the internet about which guides are good but are mostly out of date now. I have a copy of the Mitchell Beazley guide which has the pages falling out now and I was looking for something along those lines as this is out of print now.
It seems that the Collins or Collins/BTO or RSPB are the ones which are recommended (by Amazon:)) but I'd like to know if someone with experience would recommend a book for beginners to skim through on seeing a new species [given that every species is new to me] which ideally isn't a major inconvenience to carry around which it sounds as if the Collins Guide (Svenson & Mullarney) is.
Are there still books or is id just done by app these days??!
Any ideas would be grate!
Would you consider an app? The Collins Guide on your phone is searchable and you have the benefit of access to songs and calls as well as images.
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Old Saturday 26th January 2019, 21:58   #3
Gaz Shilton
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You can get the Collins as a app on your smartphone. £12.99 I think it still is. Highly recommend. Saves carrying a book in your pocket.
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Old Saturday 26th January 2019, 22:26   #4
John Cantelo
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Although it's rather bulky - too large to slip even into the most generous pocket - I suggest you also consider "Briain's Birds" by Hume et al and published by Wildguides. It has the advantage of only covering UK birds which you may find less confusing than a book covering the whole of Europe & beyond (although it covers rare birds you're unlikely to see, it's less confusing). The photos are a good size (hence the bulk) and cover all plumages.
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Old Sunday 27th January 2019, 10:13   #5
philipn
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Thanks for the replies. I’m drawn towards the app as a lot of the reviews of it are good. That said, although I love my phone, I really like to have a book! and they are cheaper! I’m going that my id becomes better and better and I won’t need one for long:)
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Old Sunday 27th January 2019, 19:51   #6
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I've also restarted birding, now that the kids are older and I can leave them at home - they never were fans of sitting in a cold hide. I've an old Larousse Pocket Guide to Birds of Britain and Ireland. It's an ideal size - only 15 x 10 cm (6 x 4 inches in old money).

Does anybody publish a book at that size today, with at least as many birds covered? The Larousse has 250 birds, but changes mean it's out of date - Little Egret missing for example.

Any help on small books most welcome, as I can't find any despite lots of browsing both in shops and on-line.

I've a copy of Collins for use at home, it's just too big to carry in a pocket. Why are all the 'pocket' books nowhere near pocket sized?
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Old Friday 1st February 2019, 00:12   #7
Holter38
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You can get the Collins as a app on your smartphone. £12.99 I think it still is. Highly recommend. Saves carrying a book in your pocket.
I've seen a few apps and seems this is a better one. Got to finish installing the new brake kit and fuel off-road rims on the truck to get ready for the weekend trip. I'll install an app to my son's phone so he could grow more interests in birds while we try to capture some together.
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Old Friday 1st February 2019, 06:48   #8
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Having more than one bird book or app is, of course, an option. If you've a smartphone and you want a convenient handy guide in the field then the Collins app is a no brainer. Apart from ultimate portability, it has songs and calls of most species. However, there's nothing like browsing a good book at home so get it in book form too, perhaps the large format version which allows the illustrations to really shine (if available). To cover Chris's point although not quite so stellar as the Collins guide look out for a secondhand copy of Peter Hayman's 'The New Birdwatchers' Pocket Guide' (i.e. the version with a blue and white cover). It's now out of print but available very cheaply via sites like Abe books. The same plates in larger format with more detailed text are in the 'Complete Guide to the Birdlife of Britain and Europe' which is an excellent home reference.
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Old Thursday 7th February 2019, 13:00   #9
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Have to agree with the concensus that the Collins app is the best way to go. I actually have it on my ipad mini, which is about the same size as a large paperback but a lot thinner and lighter to carry about. Now that the Collins app is available in both iOS and android then it really is a no brainer for me. As stated elsewhere, I still have the full book version which I use at home and still carry in the car with me.
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Old Thursday 7th February 2019, 21:04   #10
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Sellotape the Mitchell Beazley back together - it's still a great book!
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Old Thursday 21st February 2019, 19:48   #11
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Much good advice given above however for someone new to birding I would recommend the "Collins BTO Guide to British Birds" by Paul Sterry and Paul Stancliffe, this book was "written and illustrated with the beginner in mind".It also contains lots of advice on aids to identification.There are fewer photos than in the larger"Britains Birds" and at first glance may seem less value for money but this is made up for in the text and articles.
Later on you may wish to graduate to the more advanced guides. Actually there is a companion BTO guide to Britain's Rare Birds.
Another important book to consider is "The Helm Guide to Bird Identification" this looks at confusion species with illustrations and detailed text. I have found this a very useful book.

I totally agree with the comment regarding the size of field guides which have increased in size over the years.
the WILD Guide Britain's Birds is about the same size as my old copy of "The Popular Handbook of British Birds" by P A D Hollom, which one rarely saw being used in the field. I have copies of all the books I have mentioned but have to confess that the one that lives in my field bag is the "Pocket Guide to the Birds of Britain and North-West Europe"Chris Knightley and Steve Madge (out of print) but measures 12 cm by 17.5 cms. It also fits in my pocket!
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Old Tuesday 12th March 2019, 09:22   #12
thecuriousnuthatch
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Hey,

As a beginner myself, I got recommended this one "Collins Bird Guide" by Lars Svensson. I bought it, and was quickly overwhelmed. Although it is a lovely book (and one I really enjoy flicking through), it is way too detailed and complex for me at this stage! I much prefer "British Birds: A photographic guide to every common species (Collins Complete Guide)". I find it much easier to use, and a quick flick through usually gets me what I want. It is quite bulky tho!

After reading Robert Wallace's recommendation, I might try that one too
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Old Monday 3rd June 2019, 13:53   #13
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The RSPB Pocket Guide to British Birds is good, too. Retailing at around £6 Sterling, it's been written for those starting out on ther birdwatching journey, and, as the title suggests, it really is small enought to fit into a pocket.
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Old Saturday 7th December 2019, 19:46   #14
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If you live in California, you should get the Birds of California book.
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Old Tuesday 7th January 2020, 05:49   #15
Joe_Dizzy
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Field guides are essential gear for the serious birder of course, but the best advice I ever got was to leave the book at home (or in your car). This forces you to study the bird and confirm field marks. Actually reading the introduction pages to the better field guides will tell how to break a bird down and ID it in the field. Bird sightings can sometimes be short-lived and those precious moments are better spent viewing the bird as opposed to thumbing through a book which can actually imprint things that you want to see in a bird that may not actually be there.

Not preaching, just my two cents.
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Old Tuesday 7th January 2020, 06:34   #16
interoception
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Originally Posted by wilberfloss View Post
The RSPB Pocket Guide to British Birds is good, too. Retailing at around £6 Sterling, it's been written for those starting out on ther birdwatching journey, and, as the title suggests, it really is small enought to fit into a pocket.
Agree this is a good book to start with - fits in your pocket & has all the common birds plus a few more.

another option would be

https://www.amazon.co.uk/British-Bir.../dp/0691181675

British birds a pocket guide by Robert Hume, only very recently published.

Hope that helps

Collins Bird Guide is also worth getting as a reference but I found it somewhat overwhelming at first. It has all the birds of Europe
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Old Wednesday 15th January 2020, 14:21   #17
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Another vote for the RSPB guide (although the Hume et al book looks great, I would suggest starting with large illustrations might be better than photos).

Both of the above have the advantage of being confined to British birds - the chances of encountering a rarity are, well, rare, so as a beginner it's better not to overwhelmed by the wider range of species outside your geographic area.
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Old Thursday 16th January 2020, 12:57   #18
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For UK stuff with a sprinkling of scarce migrants i don’t think you can beat the slim Mitchell-Beazley pocket guide

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Old Saturday 25th January 2020, 10:21   #19
Sandra (Taylor)
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[quote=philipn;3811347]As a new birder of nearly 50 years old, I could do with some help in choosing a guide so I can identify birds of the UK.
There are lots of old articles on the internet about which guides are good but are mostly out of date now. I have a copy of the Mitchell Beazley guide which has the pages falling out now and I was looking for something along those lines as this is out of print now.


I'm having a clear-out of books and have come across the Mitchell Beazley ID book you mention. It's sort of oblong and would fit into a pocket. You are very welcome to have it if you could make use of it. And one or two others if you wish.

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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 16:28   #20
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Thank you for your kind offer Sandra - my advice would be to keep it. I still look at it from time to time possibly out of nostalgia. I might leave field guides at previous residences but i hang on to them...

Thanks again

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Old Friday 14th February 2020, 20:52   #21
Robert Wallace
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My son's bought me a "smart phone" for Christmas and I downloaded the Collins guide on to it. The definitive field guide to British and European birds that easily fits in my pocket. Books are so passed.
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Old Friday 28th February 2020, 08:02   #22
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Each to their own mate and it’s passe’

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