further thoughts on Morcombe Field Guide

Subject: further thoughts on Morcombe Field Guide
From: John Leonard <>
Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2000 13:51:40 +1000
I've been having another look at the Morcombe Field Guide, and I actually did a field-trial on a beginning birder....

When we talk about field-guides I think we often forget that there are various different potential users of field-guides.

First of all there are people like the average birding-aus subscriber: people who probably own two or three field-guides already, plus other ornithological works, and would probably welcome another field guide and learn from it.

Then there are the experienced bird-watchers from overseas who come to Australia. For this group probably the most important thing is that the field guide they use is similar in its look and conventions to the one(s) they use at home.

Finally there are the beginning bird-watchers; here I think the layout and format is very important. And here I have to disagree with Michael Mules, I think having information on the page is a very BAD idea. Books have been produced for about 1500 years, and despite changes in technology such as printing, their appearance has not changed much. The basic rule is 'the more white space the better', because the more space there is the easier it is for the eye to zero in on important features. Now with Morcombe's guide, some pages are just gruesome: Crows and Ravens for example.....where do you start? Whereas Pizzey and Knight has an orderly arrangement (from memory) three ravens on one page, three crows on the next. The arrangement tells the brain 'OK, steady on, order out of chaos...three ravens, scan left hand page for species, cast eye across for illustration of each species...' and so on.

While I was looking at Morcombe in Angus & Roberston a woman came up to the shelves with an assistant and they started looking at bird books, Pizzey & Knight was dismissed as too big, and Simpson & Day and Slater were considered. I butted into the conversation and showed her the Morcombe guide, but she recoiled from it in horror, saying it was too cluttered. What she wanted was a guide which had the birds arranged in groups like 'small brown birds', 'small yellow birds' and so on, not phylogenetically. I suggested perhaps one with 'Common Canberra Urban Birds', 'Common Sydney Urban Birds', 'Common Bush Birds of the Sydney Area' &c and she agreed that would be good too.

So, come on Steven Parish Publishing, what about a specific beginners' guide laid out like that?

John Leonard

Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU