Aus Field Guides (long)

Subject: Aus Field Guides (long)
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 17:24:27 Africa/Johannesburg
Dear Birdnetters

Thank you so much for your GREAT response to my field guide RFI. I got very 
useful e-mails
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 
couple of
people asked whether I could forward the comments of other people. 

Thanks specifically to Paul Coopmans, Alastair Smith, Lawrie Conole, Craig 
Doolan, John
Gamblin, David McDonald, Laurie Knight, Bob Forsyth, Jon Hall, Mike Mules and 
Chris Ross,
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, 
although I
did get one e-mail with just a little too much about the cricket - a sore point 
for us
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: - yes, a (very) good source of information
See also


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 
my RFI
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 
field guides. 

SLATER: a genuine field guide because it fits in a pocket (not a particularly 
small pocket
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 
a new
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 
Knight guide
to the birds of Australia, Harper Collins, Pymble, NSW ? since updated). This 
guide was
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 
that it
vaguely follows taxonomic order rather than logically following birdwatching 
order (so
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 
comprehensive. Has
excellent information (the text and extra information adjacent to the 
illustrations are
liked by some). Layout very good. Has gradated distribution maps. The 
illustrations have
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, 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 
excellent bird
family information that could be published in a separate volume. 

But it is outdated and has minimal/brief text compared to the other three 
guides. The
illustrations are attractive, but scattered haphazardly all over the page with 
only an
adjacent number code that relates to the name, a system that has become long 
outdated. The
drawings also aren?t all that good (they tend to look ?rough?), with variation 
in poses
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 
look busy,
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 ( also great for this).


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 
information in
the books). 

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 
the finances

Chris Lotz
Cape Town, South Africa
Dr. Chris Lotz and Catherine Gray


This message was sent using World Mail.

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