Series: Britain's Wildlife
560 pages, ~3200 colour photos, colour distribution maps1 customer review
Britain's Birds will be enjoyed, valued and constantly referred to by all birdwatchers – whether beginner, experienced or professional. This is the most comprehensive, up-to-date and practical bird book of modern times, featuring an unrivalled selection of photographs that show all the plumages you are likely to see. Focusing on identification, and containing maps, facts and figures on numbers and distributions, this breakthrough publication was devised by a team of lifelong birdwatchers, all with many years' experience of showing people birds and producing user-friendly field guides.
"[...] I conclude that the now so universal medium of photographic record has finally delivered its long nascent message. The excellent work of Hume, Still et al. has shouldered its way in between ‘Peterson’ and ‘Svensson’ on my nearest bookshelf. I recommend it very highly."
– D.I.M. Wallace, Ibis 159(1), December 2016
"[...] this is a significant new field guide, and birders are unlikely to be disappointed; everyone will learn something from this book."
– Andy Musgrove, BTO book reviews
"This guide is head and shoulders above any other photo guide I have seen [...] This is without doubt the best photo guide now on the market [...] The ambitious scope of this guide and the high quality of its execution should ensure a wide audience."
– Andy Stoddart, Rare Bird Alert
"Sets a new benchmark in photographic field guides that will be hard to beat [...] I recommend it to readers of Another Bird Blog as a book they must buy. My already well-thumbed copy is now in a safe but handy place for quick reference."
– Phil Slade, Another Bird Blog
"Packed to the brim with undoubtedly the most superb images you will see [...] This is probably the most complete and comprehensive British Bird Guide I have seen for a number of years. It will no doubt be of interest to birders, regardless of experience or expertise and the authors have certainly set the standard for all future photographic guides."
– Paul Freestone, Cornwall Birding
"A work that should be on every birdwatcher's bookshelf or kept in a rucksack or pocket [...] It will become an indispensable aid [...] Open the book at any page and you are instantly blown away by the quality of the photographs for each species in virtually every plumage stage, be they seasonal, sexual or through ageing [...] Test it out. Your birding will never be the same."
– Stuart Winter, Sunday Express
"A complete identification guide masterpiece [...] The quality of the images and the awesome presentation just took my breath away."
– Shropshire Birder
"This is simply the Best book covering Britain's birds for a very long time. It's not just for novices either, this will appeal to birders of all abilities and even has something for the twitcher in all of us [...] A Magnum Opus for Britain's Birds."
– Mike King, Gloster Birder
"No British birder should be without it and sensible birders across the Channel, including those in Spain, will want a copy too."
– Birding Cadiz Province
"Britain's Birds is another of the superb series of WILDGuides. The book is the best identification book I have seen."
– Ray Collier, Highland News
"It's not often a field guide comes along that can accurately be described as a game-changer, but this might just be one [...] Unrivalled coverage of British birds. It's an absolute must."
– Matt Merritt, Birdwatching Magazine
"Why would you need another bird identification guide or field guide? Because this one is very good!"
– Mark Avery, Sunday Book Review
"Princeton University Press's natural-history books deliver the 'wow' factor time and time again, and this ID guide to every bird species seen in the UK including some non-natives is no exception [...] The result is a must-read for bird enthusiasts."
– John Miles, BBC Wildlife
THE SPECIES ACCOUNTS 6
Wildfowl (swans, geese, ducks) 14
Cormorants, divers and grebes 70
Seabirds (Gannet, Fulmar, shearwaters, petrels) 86
Rare seabirds 98
Gulls and terns 102
Auks (puffins, guillemots, Razorbill, murrelets) 165
Waders (plovers, sandpipers, curlews, godwits, snipe and related species) 173
Vagrant waders 221
Large waterside birds (herons, bitterns, egrets, ibis, Spoonbill, cranes, storks) 236
Crakes and rails (includes Moorhen, coots, gallinules) 254
Pheasants, partridges, grouse and related species 263
Pigeons and doves 273
Owls and nightjars 281
Birds of prey
(eagles, kites, Osprey, buzzards, harriers, hawks, falcons and related species) 292
Kingfishers, cuckoos, Hoopoe, bee-eaters, Roller and parrot 326
Aerial feeders (swifts, swallows, martins) 338
Larks, pipits and wagtails 347
Dipper, Wren, accentors, oriole, starlings and waxwings 366
Thrushes, chats and wheatears 376
Warblers, cisticola and crests 403
Tits, nuthatches and 'creepers' 443
Crows (includes Jay, Magpie, Nutcracker) 464
Sparrows and finches 474
Vagrant landbirds from North America 510
Birds of uncertain origin and escapes/introductions 522
British & Irish Lists, status and legislation 524
Acknowledgements and photo credits 541
Wow! How field guides have changed – even just in the last ten years! There are some people who prefer to see drawings or paintings of birds, but I have always chosen to look at photographs first. For me, there is nothing better than a good photograph to convey the texture of each bird’s plumage.
This new guide gives comprehensive photographic coverage of every bird recorded in Britain and Ireland to date. Not only are the species there, but so too are many races – so for example, Siberian Stonechat is shown with images of three different races. So the team has tried hard to be really up to date.
Using photo-montage techniques, this is the only British guide to show all plumages likely to be encountered, and to achieve this it uses over 3,200 colour photographs from around 100 photographers. The book focuses on using simple steps to help you find and identify any bird you see – for the accipiters there is a great page showing Sparrowhawk and Goshawk in flight at the same scale, with 12 images in total. When you then turn to the actual pages for these species there are 8 and 6 additional photographs.
The text is fairly short but easy to follow, with the key field marks shown in bold. Male, female and juvenile plumages are described, but they are a bit too succinct in places. For example, a juvenile Sparrowhawk is described simply as “rusty-brown”. I was particularly pleased at the relatively large number of flight shots used. The voice is also described except for vagrants. Various codes indicate the latest BirdLife status of each species and also those that are Red or Amber listed in the UK. Colour maps indicate distribution in Britain and Ireland, and these are mostly very good, although at this size it is hard to be really accurate. Corn Buntings are shown breeding on the Isle of Wight (they left in 2003) and Montagu’s Harriers are not shown for Wiltshire (they breed every year). Migration routes are suggested for many species.
So is it the best photographic guide to buy? In my view it is the best in terms of coverage. The book to compare with is The Crossley ID Guide – Britain & Ireland (also published by Princeton). I certainly prefer the labelling in this new book – everything is clearly marked. The Crossley ID Guide is a bit more pleasing on the eye but it only covers 300 species (compared to almost 600 in the new guide). This book weighs 1.2 kg which is a quite a lot for one with a relatively small page size.
Overall this is a great book. Each page is full of images and packed with useful tips. It is hard to open a page and not find something that you’ll find useful.
Rob Hume, a freelance writer and editor for 35 years and editor of Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) publications from 1983 to 2009, was Chairman of the British Birds Rarities Committee, and has led wildlife holidays in the UK, Europe and Africa.
Robert Still, cofounder and publishing director of WILDGuides, is an ecologist and widely travelled naturalist. Working with computer graphics since their inception, he has developed a high level of expertise in digital imaging and designed many books.
Andy Swash has been involved professionally in nature conservation since 1977 and is managing director of WILDGuides. A renowned photographer, he leads photographic tours worldwide and has coauthored and edited many books.
Hugh Harrop, one of Shetland's top birders and naturalists, founded the ecotourism business Shetland Wildlife in 1992, and his award-winning photographs have been published throughout Europe and North America.
David Tipling is one of the world's most widely published wildlife photographers. He is the author or commissioned photographer for many books, and writes regularly for wildlife and leading photographic magazines.