Thomas & Thomas guides - for the world birder.

To: <>
Subject: Thomas & Thomas guides - for the world birder.
From: Simon Mustoe <>
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2011 10:03:14 +1100

I'd like to echo the sentiments of Rob Morris, Mick and others. Putting 
together books like this is an extraordinary feat. It's taken years of 

Some failures to map sites correctly could come down to author error. In other 
cases, it's due to lack of advice from Australian birders ... in at least one 
recent example, the authors tried to get more information from a local expert 
but it was not forthcoming, leaving them to use material that was available 
from other sources, such as birding-aus. That's quite normal and the authors 
have invited comments for future print runs for this reason. 

So can those who criticise the book, suggest an alternative source of 
information? Birding-aus seems to be considered one seminal source about 
Australian birds - where to find them, what they look like etc.? There's no 
doubt it's a fantastic archive but the information isn't quality-checked. There 
is always information that's wrong, misleading, out of date and most of it is 
buried in a mass of less than pleasant dialogue. So it takes a level of 
expertise to weed out the relevant and reliable content but we don't hear it 
criticised for that. 

As I described in my review on Bird-O:

The exponential growth of birding info online has foregone attempts 
to reasonably catalog it so far. Google searches increasingly throw up 
content of varying quality, discordant and widely distributed in sites 
that aren’t easy for an outsider to find. For reasons of time more than 
anything else, it’s impractical for anyone – let alone any amateur 
birder – to sweep the web and compile comprehensive information for a 
trip. This is why The Complete Guide to Finding Birds of Australia  is
 an indispensable addition to the library of anyone looking for a 
general introduction to bird finding on the continent. If Australian 
birders are to find any small fault, it’ll be in the fine detail of some
 local information. For this, there has had to be some trade-off. At 463
 pages and for a mega-diversity continent like Australia, the 
publication was an encyclopaedia undertaking.

So before attacking a well-produced second edition that has served the birding 
community well for many many years, think about the alternatives and FOR THE 
LOVE OF BIRDS, be nice to each other ; ) 




Simon Mustoe 
Tel: +61 (0) 405220830 | Skype simonmustoe | Email 

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> Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2011 21:02:05 +0000
> From: 
> To: 
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Thomas & Thomas guides - for the world birder.
> I ought to put in my bit from an international perspective and especially as 
> I 
> know the Thomas duo (no financial interest, just supporting a classic book!). 
> Richard kindly loaned me a pre-issue chapter for my Dec 10, trip to WA as the 
> new book wasn't out then.  Having used T & T 1st ed  for my 11 visits from UK 
> since the nineties it was the one book that I would always make room for in 
> the 
> limited hand luggage allowance, usually a jacket pocket!   As it was 
> originally 
> written for the visiting (serious) birdwatchers from Europe rather than 
> Australian folk  the emphasis was on being a 'complete' guide and it surely 
> fulfilled this niche for many years.  I don't believe there has been a single 
> publication since that one could use to the sort of level of detail.  Written 
> effectively before the Internet it was written very much following the old 
> fashioned (more reliable?) paper trip report with proper sketch maps that we 
> all 
> used to write.  So yes I discovered that Mt Magnet golf course wasn't there 
> last 
> December or at least there was no-one playing on the 'greens' but the new 
> guide 
> gives you the best all around info for finding your own birds something that 
> seems to be a diminishing art nowadays as it seems to have become  
> 'mandatory' 
> to employ guides everywhere one goes birding. (Admittedly I used an excellent 
> guide in Vic for the Plains Wanderer but then would I have ever found one 
> myself 
> before my visa expired!)   Back to the point then, I think Oz birders 
> shouldn't 
> need to rely on the new T & T but for the international visitor who only 
> wants 
> one site guide along with a basic field guide there is no competition as yet. 
> Must order my full version ready for next trip.
> Good birding.. 
> Matthew Rodgers,UK
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