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Thinking about albatrosses is thinking about remote, uninhabited, windswept islands in the vast open oceans. As being the ultimate marine family, seeing one of the 21 species of Diomedeidae is often one of the highlights of a birdwatcher’s trip. Many of them aren’t very easy to see for the land based birder and access to the colonies is often restricted and expensive.
Otto Plantema has extensively sailed the oceans in search for albatrosses and other seabirds. He has visited breeding colonies of all but one species (Amsterdam Island Albatross) in order to photograph them. Quite a few species were encountered more often than a couple of times. The book offers a quick and structured overview of where, when and how to see albatrosses. But it is more than a ‘where to watch birds’ book with pictures.
After an introductory chapter which briefly describes taxonomy, ecology, threats, breeding biology and photography, the book describes the main geographical areas which you have to visit if you want to see all the species near or in the colony: Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha archipelago, French Subantarctic islands, New Zealand and Subantarctic islands and the (Subtropical) North Pacific (Hawaii, Japan and Galapagos). Most chapters contain a paragraph on history and geography per island followed by a how to visit these islands and the species accounts, which contain: identification (briefly), history, population, distribution, behavior, breeding, threats and status.
"[...] an eye-catching and mouth-watering book. [...] Rather than taking a traditional taxonomic approach and listing the species by taxonomic sequence, the author takes us on a journey around the world [...] some of these albatross colonies, then the good memories of your travels will flow back. If you have not yet seen an albatross then after reading this book you will surely want to [...]"
– Keith Betton, British Birds 113, April 2020
"[...] The first thing to notice is the stunning quality of the photographs of all species. [...] Second the book is very easy reading, in fact it is a quick and structured overview of where, when and how to see the albatrosses. [...] This book is not a field guide nor a monograph on the subject, but while planning your pelagic expedition wíll serve as a beautifully illustrated and up to date ‘where to find albatrosses - with background information’"
– Rinse van der Vliet, Dutch Birding