Friday, November 15, 2013

The Crossley ID Guide, Britain & Ireland by Richard Crossley and Dominic Couzens: A review

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The unique Crossley ID guide series continues with this volume covering the birds of Britain and Ireland. This beautiful book covers all the regularly occurring birds in Britain and Ireland. Several of them will be familiar to American birders, even those who have never traveled to either location. This is especially true of the shorebirds and raptors, many of whom are international fliers.

These guides are geared toward beginner and intermediate birders, but even advanced birders will find their approach to identifying birds an innovative one that will not bore them.

Richard Crossley's method is to use actual photographs of each species of bird in many different poses and place them against a background which shows appropriate habitat for that species. In many ways, it combines the best of the traditional field guides which use paintings of the birds to emphasize their most noticeable field marks and the newer guides that use photographs of birds. His method allows one to see the bird in naturalistic poses within the type of habitat where it would be expected to be found. It really leaves very little excuse for not being able to identify that bird.

The images and settings of the birds are accompanied by a concise text provided by Dominic Couzens, one of Britain's leading nature writers.

This user-friendly guide features over 300 species. I have not birded Britain and Ireland and so I was somewhat surprised by that low number. There are more species of birds than that to be found in my corner of Texas in a year's time, but one has to remember that these are relatively small islands. The species that are represented here are those that one could likely see within the right habitats on those islands.

The guide emphasizes size and shape of birds, as well as having images that demonstrate flight patterns, plumages, and unique behavior. It really is a very usable reference work and one that should find a home with anyone planning to do some birding in Ireland or Britain. For birders (twitchers?) living in that area, here is a new book for your bookshelves, one that will help you be a better birder. Highly recommended.

(Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for the purposes of this review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.)


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