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Britain's Birds 2nd Edition

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Old Friday 22nd May 2020, 08:51   #26
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I try to use high street bookshops if I can but often neither they nor their warehouse have the book(s) I want. Online I tend to buy first from Wildsounds and then NHBS. I like to buy things from NHBS every now and again as even if it is sometimes a little more as I regard that a price worth paying to have a supplier willing to carry such a large stock of relatively obscure books.
Unless it's something really specialised, try Speedhen or Wordery, both are often the cheapest option for pre-pub offers the former at least, offers free postage as standard, I think they both do?

I buy all my New Naturalists from Speedhyhen these days, here's a link to the next one

https://www.speedyhen.com/Product/Ia...Birds/24445205

and the latest Dragonfly book from Smallshire and Swash which I just purchased.

https://www.speedyhen.com/Product/Da...flies/24680936

Edit: Now I smell a conspiracy!

Both those links come up as 'invalid' with WH Smith, Foyles and Waterstones as options?
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Old Friday 22nd May 2020, 09:08   #27
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Wildsounds have it "in stock for immediate dispatch" for £14.99 including P&P. This time round I ordered via NHBS largely because they had another book I wanted that Wildsounds didn't but perhaps that was a mistake!
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Old Friday 22nd May 2020, 09:12   #28
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Wildsounds have it "in stock for immediate dispatch" for £14.99 including P&P. This time round I ordered via NHBS largely because they had another book I wanted that Wildsounds didn't but perhaps that was a mistake!
Including postage, it's usually now on orders above £20 at Wildsounds which is my usual supplier of choice?

https://www.wildsounds.com/pages/terms.shtml#Postfree
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Old Friday 22nd May 2020, 09:15   #29
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Including postage, it's usually now on orders above £20 at Wildsounds which is my usual supplier of choice?
Thanks. I must have misread the blurb. If that's the case then £14.99 plus p&p seems the going rate and NHBS is no more expensive than elsewhere.
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Old Friday 22nd May 2020, 09:38   #30
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Thanks. I must have misread the blurb. If that's the case then £14.99 plus p&p seems the going rate and NHBS is no more expensive than elsewhere.
Speedyhen has it at £15.44 inclusive of pp but they don't have any yet.

A couple of sellers on Amazon have it at a similar price with free pp too but from their delivery date estimates, I'd say they don't have it yet either.
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Old Friday 22nd May 2020, 15:15   #31
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Thanks. I must have misread the blurb. If that's the case then £14.99 plus p&p seems the going rate and NHBS is no more expensive than elsewhere.
I ordered two for £29.98 - avoids paying for p and p and will be a nice surprise for one of my birding mates.

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Old Friday 22nd May 2020, 17:31   #32
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I ordered two for £29.98 - avoids paying for p and p and will be a nice surprise for one of my birding mates.

Steve
Not meaning to be ungrateful Steve but I don't like photo guides.........
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Old Friday 22nd May 2020, 18:14   #33
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Not meaning to be ungrateful Steve but I don't like photo guides.........
I'll give it to someone else then Andy
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Old Tuesday 26th May 2020, 13:13   #34
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Just testing this link at the request of the seller.

https://www.speedyhen.com/Product/Da...flies/24680936

Link is still failing to reach their site.................
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Old Tuesday 26th May 2020, 13:16   #35
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I also get an error message
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Old Tuesday 26th May 2020, 13:53   #36
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A week after others my copy has finally arrived. Hardly dipped into it yet but I plan to go through it in detail anon ....
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Old Wednesday 27th May 2020, 06:43   #37
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Would love to hear your views on it John! The pages seem a lot clearer and printing seems to be better. I like the inclusion of the roundel symbol for gull aging to show how many years it takes for them to become adults. Just wish they had chosen a different Tawny Owl photo that stance just doesn't show the bird properly at all. Blackcap was another one I didn't like in the old version but they have changed that one! Do you have the Pocket version? I really recommend that one too! Perfect for taking out in the field.
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Old Wednesday 27th May 2020, 10:35   #38
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Overall it is a very good book and I like it. However, the maps are the biggest issue for me that I've found so far. While it is impossible to show all areas (especially where coverage is restricted to small sites) where particular birds can be found, some of the suggested coverage appears to be long out of date. Even in some cases comparing distribution maps with the 2008-11 atlas project reveals what appears to be imaginary distribution rather than actual for some species. There also appears to be a lack of consistency shown in categorising some species with regards the maps.

A few observations from mostly an Angus/Fife stand-point. Black-Necked Grebe is shown as a summer visitor to Angus & Fife. Yes, they did breed at Loch of Kinnordy but that was about 20+ years ago, though it doesn't seem to have reached many book authors' ears yet. Fair enough there was 1 bird took up YEAR-ROUND residence at Elie in Fife over past couple of years but Black Necked Grebe isn't a bird that turns up in Angus/Fife (my main birding areas) on anything like a predictably regular annual basis. Canada Goose isn't shown in Angus or Fife but they are far more reliable (especially in mid-summer) than Black Necked Grebe.

The map for Mandarin shows a small area to the west of Montrose Basin. If they are there then no-one has told Angus birders who tend to travel to Aberdeen for the year-tick with the Johnson Gardens/Walker Dam bird. Red Throated Diver is shown as a summer visitor to everywhere inland north of a line through Fife Ness. That seems incredibly broad-brush coverage. Mediterranean Gull - more common and increasingly reliable than Black Necked Grebe is only shown as scarce/irregular. Little Tern is shown as summer visitor but again is probably less likely to be encountered in Fife/Angus than Mediterranean Gull though perhaps slightly more than Black Necked Grebe. Neither Roseate or Black Tern are shown on Angus coast where both are probably more reliable than Little Tern, and definitely moreso than Black Necked Grebe with roughly a 2 month window in late Summer for both.

Other than Bonxies, Skuas don't appear to be seen off Angus/Fife coasts according to the maps. Arctic is a regular bird on passage (probably on a par with Bonxie?). Poms are claimed by a few observers each year and I've seen more Long Tailed Skuas off Angus/Fife coasts than I have Black Necked Grebes, though they are probably irregular visitors at best. Black Tailed Godwit is a regular outwith breeding season in Angus/Fife (Invergowrie Bay/Eden Estuary/Montrose Basin) but isn't shown at all in Angus/Fife yet the numerically less common Whimbrel which is shown as a regular migrant is.

Little Egret is now regular in Angus and Fife, now almost guaranteed year-round, but is shown as only to be found in coastal areas in southern Scotland - yet Great White Egret is shown as scarce/irregular (which it is), in NE Scotland. The birds of prey - White Tailed Eagle, Osprey, Honey Buzzard, Marsh Harrier in particular show a confusing lack of consistency when compared to each other.

Pied Flycatcher is shown as scarce/irregular (which it is) along the coast of Angus & Fife but Black Redstart, Lesser Whitethroat and Whinchat aren't (yet are probably likelier to be encountered than PF). Red Backed Shrike is shown as a regular migrant along Fife/Angus coast but is less reliable than LW, Whinchat and Black Redstart.

Not a local gripe but Cetti's Warbler is surely no longer limited to the S/SE of England as shown? Nuthatch coverage appears to be out of date for Scotland with only a small area of the Borders/Lothian shown. Magpie is another species whose range has expanded greatly into most of the local Angus/Fife 'gaps' on the map. Raven is regular in small numbers in NE Fife year-round. The map for Hawfinch (Scone Palace is the place to go) has coverage in other areas of Angus and Perthshire where if the birds are there, it has been kept very quiet indeed.

Having highlighted all of the above, the maps are probably one of my own personally least used features in ANY book. I tend to go online to check sightings/tap into local knowledge to find if birds are likely in a particular area rather than consult a field guide map where the size of the maps and age of book are likely to render the information within as of very limited use. For novice birders though they should give an idea of what they could realistically expect to see in their area. On that score this book manages about a 6/10 for Fife and Angus from me. Rest of the book probably just about an 8/10.
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Old Wednesday 27th May 2020, 11:45   #39
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I agree with everything you've said stonefaction coming from this area of the world too! I wonder what they based their maps on and from what source? I always find the BTO maps to be the best.
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Old Wednesday 27th May 2020, 13:53   #40
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Would love to hear your views on it John! The pages seem a lot clearer and printing seems to be better. I like the inclusion of the roundel symbol for gull aging to show how many years it takes for them to become adults. Just wish they had chosen a different Tawny Owl photo that stance just doesn't show the bird properly at all. Blackcap was another one I didn't like in the old version but they have changed that one! Do you have the Pocket version? I really recommend that one too! Perfect for taking out in the field.
I'm still working through it. However, I'll make a few initial points -
  • the printing in the new edition seems much brighter and crisper than in the original
  • the typeface is generally more clear and easy to read
  • the extra page and better focus in the introduction is an improvement
  • in general the layout has been improved aiding clarity and ease of use
  • the grouping of birds is better both on the plate and in ordering where they're covered
  • there's been an improvement in the selection of most photos (where replaced) & new ones are generally very helpful
  • I've never seen a 2nd edition of a bird guide (or any book come to that) that's been so extensively revised and edited. Someone's gone through the old version with a fine tooth comb
  • I agree about the gull symbol

On the downside I've found a couple of errors in the index and I'd agree that the maps remain a weakness (although smaller those in the BTO Collins photo guide are better).

I don't have the pocket guide partly because I don't think it adds anything (other than portability) and partly as in the UK (& in Europe) I rarely take a bird guide with me (or at least I never did until I got the Collins Guide app on my phone). I was schooled to be a 'make notes and look it up later' birdwatcher.
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Old Friday 29th May 2020, 19:51   #41
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If anybody receives a copy, an interesting test of how improved this second edition is would be to work through my comments on the gulls section (post #40 here: https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?p=3442580) and identify which ones have been addressed. Any volunteers?
Your wish is my command ....

I'd make some general points regarding the coverage of gulls and more generally. The crisper, brighter printing as made it easier to see details on original photos and a number of better photos have replaced the less helpful ones. Beside the birds dates are given either to indicate when the photo was taken (or perhaps when the plumage might be seen). As already noted a symbol has been added to show years to maturity. the moult sequence double page has been redesigned for the better. The sequence used is, I feel, more intuitive.

Black-headed Gull
- neither of the at-rest first-winters are very representative, being quite faded unlike typical midwinter birds with much more prominent dark markings
- no change in photos
- the patchy-hooded bird is labelled as a first-summer, which I'm sure it is, but moulting adults look like this too (making it a "false friend")
- no change
- Flight shot of the adult summer bird shows heavy shade on the underwing - surely a better photo of one of Britain's most common species could be found? (similar issues with adult Little Gull and first-summer Sabine’s Gull on p117, Lesser Black-backed Gull on p119)
- no change but I’d argue these features in the original were reasonably both on the main plate & on the small gulls in flight reference page (and assisted by better printing)
- there is no photo of a late summer adult moulting its outer primaries, showing that distinctive double black dot on the leading edge of the wing, which catches out novice birders who think it must be something unusual
- there’s a new photo of an adult in heavy moult in flight on page of moult in gulls but I’m not sure that it shows the feature to which you refer.

Mediterranean Gull
- No first-summer or second-summer shown
- no change in photos
- Both flight shots of first-winters taken in poor light (cf much better photo in Crossley)
- no change in photos on main page but new & better one on the small gulls in flight reference page
- All three flight-shots of adults have quite stretched wings – why not one with less stretched wings showing the Barn Owl-like rounded wingtip that is so different from any pose a Black-headed Gull is ever seen in
- no change in photos

Kittiwake
- No first-summer
- photo of first summer in flight added plus wing of 2nd winter & head of first winter added
- Adult summer doesn’t show the contrast between mid-grey of mantle/innerwing and paler grey of primaries well
- better printing of same photo on main page makes this feature more obvious as does a new photo on on the small gulls in flight reference page
- No photo showing just how distinctively translucent white the primaries of adults are when viewed from below
- not shown

Little Gull
- No first-summer or second-winter
- not shown
- No size comparison against Black-headed Gull
- in both editions the small gulls in flight reference page shows the size difference (although not so well in the new edition as they’re not close together)

Bonaparte’s Gull
- No at-rest first-winter or adult winter
- no change

Common Gull
- Only one very young juvenile; older juvenile, which can be confusingly similar to juvenile Med Gulls on the deck, not shown
- no change
- Only one at-rest first-winter when this is this species’ most variable plumage
- no change
- No first-summer
- no change

Ring-billed Gull
- Only one at-rest first-winter when this is this species’ most variable plumage
- no change

Lesser Black-backed Gull / Herring Gull
- The juvenile gulls on p121 and p127 captioned as Lesser Black-backed Gull are far from classic individuals (I wouldn’t be happy ruling out Herring gull on these two until I saw them fly – would anyone else? If so, what features am I missing that gives you that confidence?). If the purpose is to warn beginners off from making uncautious identifications of juvenile gulls, then that’s admirable, but a majority of individual Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls in these plumages are readily identifiable at rest and it would have been good to show these as well (Ok, there is a juvenile Herring, but it’s in a pose that fails to highlight its most useful ID features, and I can’t find any photos of birds anywhere in the book that look like the typical juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gulls that are plentiful at this time of the year at the weir five minutes way from my house).
- there’s new photo replacing the one originally shown p121 although I can’t say it meets your exacting standards I think it’s better (as is the flight shot opposite)
- No hybrid Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gulls shown
- No hybrid Glaucous x Herring
- neither covered in the new version

Iceland Gull / Glaucous Gull
- No at-rest adult Glaucous without head-streaking, and no at-rest Iceland with – another “false friend”
- neither covered in the new version; Iceland Gull photos unchanged but three of the Glaucous Gull photos are new – these cover ‘adult non-breeding’ (replacing ‘adult winter’), ‘second winter’ and third summer replacing one of third winter
- Repeated reference to Iceland and Glaucous Gulls in “first-winter”, which is now generally accepted as an anachronistic terms for this pair
- now refered to as ‘juvenile/first winter’ birds

Great Black-backed Gull

- No at-rest first-winter
- no change in photos but the ‘juvenile ‘ of the original in now called ‘first winter’

Yellow-legged Gull
- Just one at-rest first-winter and no at-rest juvenile
- all photos the same except ‘adult summer’ replaced by new photo labelled ‘adult breeding’
- No variation in adult appearance shown
- see above
- No at-rest older immature birds shown
- see above

Caspian Gull
- No at-rest older immature birds shown
- new photos of adult, flying third winter & flying adult but no additional at rest photos

I fear that a laridophile like yourself will be disappointed but for a pedestrian birder like me I think book manages a good balance between useful coverage and the constraints of producing a book that is remotely portable. I think that the only way to attain the sort of coverage you'd like would only be possible if the book was a lot larger or ultra-rarities were excluded (which I think would disappoint far more.

I hope this helps. Over the next few days I hope to go over the thread on the original edition and check the new version against the errors/concerns raised.
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Old Friday 29th May 2020, 22:08   #42
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More errors that were pointed out in the original thread which have been corrected using new photos include wrongly attributed juv Audouin's Gull (which also has a couple of new photos & corrected ages), juv Little Ringed Plover (actually RP), first winter Common Sandpiper (which was actually Spotted Sandpiper), first winter Richard's Pipit (actually a Tawny Pipit) & juv Serin (actually a juvenile Citril Finch). Better coverage of Pied/White wagtail in a two page spread including juv. More accurate maps for Balearic & Cory's Sheawater.
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Old Friday 29th May 2020, 22:16   #43
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Plate on hybrid ducks remains the same but there's a new page of exotic wildfowl (although with too few images) and the head & chest of a domestic Mallard creeps in to the photos of that species
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Old Saturday 30th May 2020, 11:58   #44
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I could have saved myself a lot of bother if I'd noticed that on the frontispiece of the new edition below the names of the writers/photographers the words "Consultant Chris Batty" now appears so I think we can be pretty certain that all of the questionable photos, captions, etc noted in the original thread have been replaced or corrected. I was very impressed by the original guide (although not perhaps as critical as I ought to have been). Although I still find some of the maps less accurate than I'd like and recognise that some perfectionists may still winkle out things to decry, I believe that this is probably as good a photographic guide to Britain's birds as we'll ever get. I still hope that a European guide based in this book will be published in the fullness of time even if that means some extreme rarities have to go AWOL. So should you buy the new version? Well, with the old one you should be able to identify most of the birds you see and in reality this new version won't make a huge difference. However, in my view the many minor changes across different aspects of the book combine to make it worth the relatively minor expense. I'll try to say more about those changes anon if it would be helpful.
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Old Monday 1st June 2020, 19:42   #45
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Your wish is my command ....

I'd make some general points regarding the coverage of gulls and more generally. The crisper, brighter printing as made it easier to see details on original photos and a number of better photos have replaced the less helpful ones. Beside the birds dates are given either to indicate when the photo was taken (or perhaps when the plumage might be seen). As already noted a symbol has been added to show years to maturity. the moult sequence double page has been redesigned for the better. The sequence used is, I feel, more intuitive.

<snip>
I fear that a laridophile like yourself will be disappointed but for a pedestrian birder like me I think book manages a good balance between useful coverage and the constraints of producing a book that is remotely portable. I think that the only way to attain the sort of coverage you'd like would only be possible if the book was a lot larger or ultra-rarities were excluded (which I think would disappoint far more.

I hope this helps. Over the next few days I hope to go over the thread on the original edition and check the new version against the errors/concerns raised.
***
Thanks for this John, much appreciated. Based on this, I probably won’t buy this edition, but wait for a future one instead.

Just one thing: the reason I chose to analyse the gulls was that I didn’t have time to review the whole book so felt I could conclude something about the overall gap between this book and the “ideal” photographic guide by doing a deep-dive into a family I know well. My thinking was that if I found lots of deficiencies in the gulls, a warbler person would find a similar number among the warblers, a raptor person among the raptors etc. I’m aware that one could argue that gulls are unrepresentative of birds as a whole, of course, but my point is that I wasn’t specifically looking for a book that went out of its way specifically to please gull nerds.

My general argument still stands: the utility value of a photo of an adult Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull hybrid (for example) to the average user of this book is orders of magnitudes higher than that of any plumage of Audouin’s Gull.
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Old Thursday 4th June 2020, 16:27   #46
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Thanks for this John, much appreciated. Based on this, I probably won’t buy this edition, but wait for a future one instead.

Just one thing: the reason I chose to analyse the gulls was that I didn’t have time to review the whole book so felt I could conclude something about the overall gap between this book and the “ideal” photographic guide by doing a deep-dive into a family I know well. My thinking was that if I found lots of deficiencies in the gulls, a warbler person would find a similar number among the warblers, a raptor person among the raptors etc. I’m aware that one could argue that gulls are unrepresentative of birds as a whole, of course, but my point is that I wasn’t specifically looking for a book that went out of its way specifically to please gull nerds.

My general argument still stands: the utility value of a photo of an adult Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull hybrid (for example) to the average user of this book is orders of magnitudes higher than that of any plumage of Audouin’s Gull.
You're a hard man to please, Steve.

I don't think the level of detail and comprehensiveness you seem to want is possible if the book is to remain remotely portable. I suspect that the in-depth coverage that you'd prefer is only practically viable in a specialist guide devoted to single group of birds. I’m one of those who'd tend to argue that gulls, with their multiple plumages, tendency to hybridise etc are indeed unrepresentative and make for an unduly harsh judgement of the book's overall merits. For every person wanting to delve into the complexities of Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull hybrids (and I've headache just thinking about it) there are as many or more (I'd guess) preferring coverage of Audouin’s Gull. Compromises always have to be made (comprehensiveness/size/price/etc) so I don't think it's likely that any future version will meet your exacting standards.

Although I think that there's a good argument for ditching all species that have occurred fewer than 10 times and the worthy conservation status details in the back to make room for more details in the main texts and more photos this remains in my view a first rate guide. The more that I dip into this new version the more that I see things that I like. The headline news is that it covers a number of additional species but I think the more important news is the book's improved detail, layout and design across the board. Better coverage of the Stonechat and R-b/Isabelline/Brown Shrike complexes is come to mind. I'm gradually trying to put together a review with photos comparing plates etc for my blog and will post here anon when I'm done.
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Old Thursday 4th June 2020, 18:01   #47
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You're a hard man to please, Steve.

I don't think the level of detail and comprehensiveness you seem to want is possible if the book is to remain remotely portable. I suspect that the in-depth coverage that you'd prefer is only practically viable in a specialist guide devoted to single group of birds. I’m one of those who'd tend to argue that gulls, with their multiple plumages, tendency to hybridise etc are indeed unrepresentative and make for an unduly harsh judgement of the book's overall merits. For every person wanting to delve into the complexities of Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull hybrids (and I've headache just thinking about it) there are as many or more (I'd guess) preferring coverage of Audouin’s Gull. Compromises always have to be made (comprehensiveness/size/price/etc) so I don't think it's likely that any future version will meet your exacting standards.
The perfect guide, wouldn't have Gulls or Geese in at all......
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Old Thursday 4th June 2020, 20:40   #48
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The perfect guide, wouldn't have Gulls or Geese in at all......
Not quite. You surely mean ducks and gulls or as they're properly known dulls
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Old Friday 5th June 2020, 05:29   #49
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Not quite. You surely mean ducks and gulls or as they're properly known dulls
I like it......
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