256 pages, colour photos, maps
Concentrating on 200 really special birds of Britain and continental Europe, from Swans to Buntings, "Great Birds of Britain and Europe" is a marvellous celebration of the beauty of birds through the lens of dedicated and highly skilled photographers.
The images, although apparently spontaneous, are often the product of hours - even days - of patient fieldcraft and pure determination and stamina on the photographer's part. They capture the excitement of the birds - the thing that anyone watching them closely would find most compelling: a black-tailed Godwit performing its balletic display, two Golden Eagles fighting in mid-air. The text - a 300-word mini-essay on each bird - evocatively catches the key characteristics of each bird and, with the help of thumbnail colour maps, pinpoints its distribution and rarity status. For each species shown the author always offers fascinating facts that even a keen naturalist or birdwatcher might not already know.
Most of the birds chosen are ones that enthusiasts are particularly pleased to see - whether because they are elusive, because they are special to their habitat or region, or simply because they are supremely beautiful.
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Jonathan Elphick has been a natural history writer for 35 years. His acclaimed book, The Birdwatcher's Handbook (BBC, 2nd edn 2001), won Bird Watching magazine's 1997 award for best field guide to British birds.
David Tipling is a professional wildlife photographer with a passion for birds. His award-winning photographs have been widely published in a variety of media. He is the author of nine books including The RSPB Guide to Digital Wildlife Photography and Collins Top Birding Spots in Britain and Ireland.