Thank you so much for your GREAT response to my field guide RFI. I got very
from MANY people. Because there was so much information, I actually collated it
in a word
document. I have copied this summary into this e-mail (below), as at least a
people asked whether I could forward the comments of other people.
Thanks specifically to Paul Coopmans, Alastair Smith, Lawrie Conole, Craig
Gamblin, David McDonald, Laurie Knight, Bob Forsyth, Jon Hall, Mike Mules and
all of whom gave good comments (I really do hope I didn't accidentally leave
off a name or
two - EVERYONE who replied to me actually had some unique useful things to say,
did get one e-mail with just a little too much about the cricket - a sore point
South Africans - jokes).
The field guide users' survey sounds very good. Lawrie, could you perhaps point
me to a
website where I can find the results of your last survey?
Well, here are my summarized notes that I prepared:
http://www.ausbird.com/ - yes, a (very) good source of information
See also http://birdsqueensland.org.au/
Australia has a wealth of field guides. The 4 high quality ones each has its
The photographic ones as usual don?t do the job well. Two people who replied to
said they birded with Slater in their pockets, but had the other guides
available in the
Birding Shop on internet (there is a link on Birds Australia website) good for
SLATER: a genuine field guide because it fits in a pocket (not a particularly
though!). Pictures generally accurate even if not as artistic in other guides:
intermediate in quality between Pizzey and Knight (good) and Simpson and Day
Getting dated with respect to names, splits, lumps and vagrants, but apparently
edition is on its way. Currently about A$25 in Angus and Robertson bookshop.
PIZZEY AND KNIGHT: Pizzey G and Knight F (1997) The Graham Pizzey and Frank
to the birds of Australia, Harper Collins, Pymble, NSW ? since updated). This
shown to be the preferred guide in the field guide poll. The most
with high quality pictures, and the best text according to some birders. Has
information than other guides. Pictures have good colour rendition.
Stated disadvantages are that it is the heaviest of the field guides, and also
vaguely follows taxonomic order rather than logically following birdwatching
that for example terns, gulls and skuas are 100 pages away from the pelagic
Lacks a quick reference section.
MORRECOMBE: Not included in the field guide poll - will be interesting if it
proves to be
more popular than Pizzey and Night. The most up-to-date guide. Very
excellent information (the text and extra information adjacent to the
liked by some). Layout very good. Has gradated distribution maps. The
been significantly criticized, although some people consider the illustrations
to be good,
except unfortunately with the colours let down by the printing. Later editions
corrected early typos. Points out differences between similar species. Big W
Store in Canberra currently has this book available at a sale price of A$29
retails for $45). Interesting: the author has recently commenced a web page,
http://michaelmorcombe.com.au/ to complement the book. There are also other
features to help with ID.
SIMPSON AND DAY: Some people like this guide the most, especially those who
used it as
their first guide. Others say it must definitely be avoided, and that the more
one gets to
know it, the worse it becomes.
Compact. Nice charts at the back of the book. The rear of the book contains
family information that could be published in a separate volume.
But it is outdated and has minimal/brief text compared to the other three
illustrations are attractive, but scattered haphazardly all over the page with
adjacent number code that relates to the name, a system that has become long
drawings also aren?t all that good (they tend to look ?rough?), with variation
making comparisons difficult sometimes. Printing problems seem to have made the
weird in the last edition.
Arrows and text all over the pictures pointing out diagnostic features make it
but some people may find this useful.
Selling for about A$30 at Angus and Robertson Bookshop.
There are other more specific guides available too. Bob Forsyth had a brilliant
with many details of all sorts of books (www.ausbird.com also great for this).
WHERE TO FIND GUIDES:
A few are available.
THOMAS AND THOMAS: One of the best. ?The complete guide to finding the birds of
Australia?. It is 10 years old, but generally still reliable.
BRADBURY: Also one of the best. Covers many of the better-known Australian
For more specific information than one can get from these local guides,
searching on the
BIRDING-AUS archive will be very worthwhile (and immensely better than the
And LOCAL GUIDES can be found through BIRD CLUBS.
With many thanks to all the birders who have got me even more excited about the
of visiting Australia, which I wish to do within a year from now (as soon as
Cape Town, South Africa
Dr. Chris Lotz and Catherine Gray
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