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Seawatching is the challenging act of identifying waterbirds in flight. Since more than one hundred different species can fly past an observation point, often at great speed or in tightly packed, mixed-species flocks, identification of these distant shapes can be a mystery. The keys to the mystery – the subtle traits that unlock the identity of flying waterbirds, be it wingbeat cadence, individual structure, flock shape and behavior, or subtle flashes of color – are revealed in Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight.
Though commonly called seawatching, this on-the-fly observation and identification method is by no means restricted to the coast. There are impressive waterbird migrations on the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, and many inland lakes and rivers. Nor is it restricted to migrating waterfowl, as the principles of flight identification apply as effectively to ducks flushed off a pond as to distant migrating flocks. Like Hawks in Flight and The Shorebird Guide, the Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching breaks new ground, provides cutting-edge techniques, and pushes the envelope in bird identification even further.
Ken Behrens has been a birder since the age of eleven. He was the ABA/Leica Young Birder of the Year in 1999. He spent three years counting birds in Cape May, New Jersey, where he developed his interest in seawatching. He currently works as a birding tour guide in Africa, based in Madagascar. He recently co-authored a site guide to Ethiopia called Birding Ethiopia.
Cameron Cox has been an avid birder for nineteen years. Now a product specialist for Leica Sport Optics, he spent his late teens and twenties traveling as a "bird bum" to all corners of North America, from southern Mexico to the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea. Birds led him repeatedly to Cape May, New Jersey, and it was while counting hawks and waterbirds at Cape May that he realized that identifying distant waterbirds on the wing was fun and challenging, leading to the inspriation for this book.
"[...] Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight is one of those guides that you don’t know you need until it’s published. I’d never really thought about seawatching before, now I’d love to try it out. But this guide is useful even if you won’t be seriously seawatching – we’re all going to encounter flying ducks, gulls, terns, and other waterbirds while birding. And since many of the birds covered have wide distributions, birders in the western half of the continent – or, for that matter, Western Europe – should also seriously consider Seawatching, despite the title."
- Grant McCreary (01-12-2013), read the full review at The Birder's Library