New Simpson and Day Field Guide K-Mart special

To: <>
Subject: New Simpson and Day Field Guide K-Mart special
From: "Robert Inglis" <>
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 14:58:06 +1000
Hi all,

The local Bookworld (north of Brisbane) had no knowledge of the 7th edition of 
the Simpson and Day
Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, however, the local K-mart had it in 
stock yesterday.
Using my rapidly expiring Coles Myer Shareholders discount Card I was able to 
purchase a copy for
AUD$25.60 which is a lot better than the $40+ being charged by Bookworld for 
the 6th edition of S &
D and the 7th (duh! I still haven't got over that yet!) edition of the Pizzey 
and Knight field

I haven't updated my Australian bird field guides for sometime as I have been 
waiting for a truly
new, updated version.
My real hope is for a genuinely updated version of the Slater field guide, 
however, I succumbed to
temptation with the S and D job.

I am always a bit suspicious of publishers' claims about the latest printing of 
an existing
publication being 'completely revised and updated' and in the case of Ver 7 of 
S & D I feel I have
some justification in being so.
There certainly are some changes compared to Ver 6, for example, but, by the 
same token, some of the
claimed changes for Ver 7 seemed to have occurred already in Ver 6.
For example, the title "Vagrant Bird Bulletin" is not new to Ver 7 having 
already had that title in
Ver 6.
The difference in Ver 7 is that many of the 'vagrants' which were displayed in 
the main body of the
book have been shifted to the 'V B B'.
In some cases an illustration of the vagrant bird has been left on a plate in 
the main body of the
book (e.g. Lesser Yellowlegs/Nordmann's Greenshank) and in other cases the 
plate has been redrawn
with the vagrant bird omitted (e.g. Black-headed Gull/Franklin's Gull/etc).
Having the two separate sections to refer to may be a little confusing but is 
probably the simplest
way of dealing with birds which are at best unlikely to be seen by most birders 
and at worst, in
some cases, unlikely to actually have been seen in Australia at all.

There is a claim that "Some additional seabird bills have been drawn" on the 
endpapers (inside the front and rear covers). This is a quaint form of
words which may be intended to infer a meaning I have not understood.
My copy of Ver 7 has the same number of bills 'drawn' but one in Ver 6, Royal 
Albatross, has been
replaced in Ver 7 with Shy Albatross.

As seems to be the tradition amongst creators of Australian bird field guides, 
Ken Simpson seems to
have gone his own way as far as deciding what is a full species and what is not.
The Handbook of Australian New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (HANZAB) Vol 4 
(Parrots to Dollarbirds),
according to my reading, deems Red-collared Lorikeet to be a subspecies 
(Trichoglossus haematodus
rubritorquis) of Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus).
In Ver 7 of his field guide, Ken Simpson appears to have made Red-collared 
Lorikeet into a full
species, Trichoglossus rubritorquis, without any explanation for doing so.
I am sure the twitchers will thank him for that. In fact, it adds one more 
species to my life list.

The new book has 58 pages less than Ver 6 thus producing a slightly slimmer and 
lighter (by 115
grms) volume.
That is not to say that this field guide is all that much more 'portable'.
(But then neither are the 'Pizzey and Knight' and 'Morcombe' competitors.)
The reduction in page numbers has been achieved by deleting some 'chapters' and 
compressing some of
the remaining text.
A large part of the Handbook section has been deleted leaving mainly the 
section on 'Where Birds
Live' and a highly compressed version of the 'Breeding Information' which 
consists mainly of the
'old' bar-charts for the breeding seasons of each species, a feature I find 
quite handy.

A few of the colour plates have been completely re-done. The new art-work does 
seem to me to be at
least a slight improvement on the originals.
Unfortunately, in the case of the kingfisher pages this re-drawing has created 
a slight anomaly.
The entries for the kookaburras/kingfishers have been split by inserting 
Dollarbird and Rainbow
Bee-eater midway through the sequence.
I suspect that this was done so that the increased number of illustrations 
could more easily be
positioned on the two pages available.
This is somewhat ironical considering the recent discussion thread on 
Birding-Aus which seemed to
indicate a significant number of people have trouble location a specific 
species in field guides
even where individual birds in a 'group' are arranged in a continuous sequence.

I would suggest that anyone wanting to use this field guide to help identify a 
possible South Island
Pied Oystercatcher (SIPO) should think again.
When the original oystercatcher art-work was done the SIPO was probably still 
considered to be a
subspecies of the Pied Oystercatcher and so there probably wasn't a real need 
to be especially
accurate with the markings on the wings and back. The original illustration of 
the Pied
Oystercatcher in flight actually depicted a SIPO. The back pattern has been 
modified in the latest
version to portray that of a Pied Oystercatcher and the text for PO has been 
adjusted to reflect
However, the illustration still shows a wing pattern more like a SIPO than a PO.
The entry for SIPO in the Vagrant Bird Bulletin does not mention the obviously 
longer bill compared
with the PO; this is, to me, the most striking difference and, when combined 
with the obviously
shorter legs, almost guarantees an ID of SIPO.

The 'revision' feature I find to be most welcome is the provision of common 
names against the
illustrations in place of the numbers used in previous versions.
This will be especially useful for the less-practiced bird-watcher.

As seems to be 'normal' with revisions and reprints, some of the colours in the 
illustrations and
the backgrounds have changed slightly compared with Ver 6.
It seems to me that this has 'worked' well in most cases considering that I was 
never really happy
with a lot of the colours used in previous versions of this field guide.
Then again, this is a complaint which is likely to be levelled by someone 
against any field guide
regardless of whether art-work or photographs are used to illustrate the birds.

All in all, I would say that this version of 'The Simpson and Day Field Guide 
to the Birds of
Australia' is probably the best one so far (I am, after all, the master of the 
profound!) and, at
the price I paid, is worthwhile having. However it is not my 'First Choice' for 
an Australian bird
field guide.
Whenever I feel the need to refer to a 'field guide' I usually reach for my 
copy of 'Pizzey and
Knight' (1997).
If I want to remind myself what a field guide should look like I take up my 
copy of 'Slater' (1989).


Bob Inglis
Woody point
11 June 2004

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