Monday 23 October 2017

Ideal guide for bird watchers

The latest bird book to hit the bookshops has a lot to recommend it. Titled "The Birds of Ireland: A Field Guide" it is a photographic guide. And there are lots and lots of photos, over 1,600 of them all in full colour.

Words are by Jim Wilson and images by Mark Carmody, two Cork men who are experts in their fields and who have collaborated in the past to produce books on freshwater birds and shorebirds.

Their latest publication is in association with BirdWatch Ireland and is ideal for beginners to bird identification. For example, two pages feature two common garden birds the Blue Tit and the Great Tit side by side.

Each page has nine photos of each species from varying angles showing juveniles and adults, males and females. Helpful pointer arrows draw your attention to key features that distinguish one species from the other.

Furthermore, each page features an information bar with key facts and brief species identification notes. Text makes up one quarter of each page with the bulk of the page given over to photographs.

Similar to the two pages featuring the Blue Tit and the Great Tit, there are helpful pages with the Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush side by side to remind us of the differences between the two species.

Many people have difficulty telling a Cormorant from a Shag, a Swallow from a House Martin or a Kestrel from a Sparrowhawk. Again they are all there side by side for easy comparison.

For the more experienced there are useful reminders of the difference between a Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler, a Common Tern and an Artic Tern and a Wood Pigeon and a Stock Dove. Female ducks, ducks in flight and juvenile gulls are all treated with competence in an admirable workman-like way.

The new field guide has the great advantage in that it deals only with birds found in Ireland. It goes further in that it focuses on the common species that one is most likely to see and pays less attention to scare and rare species.

The book sits very nicely in the hand and is perfectly proportioned to slip into a jacket pocket when out of doors. A very impressive amount of information is packed into its 280 pages and retailing at €14.99 it is exceptionally good value.

'The Birds of Ireland: A Field Guide' from The Collins Press is highly recommended and is available now in all good bookshops.

New Ross Standard