New Helm field guide that offers a complete identification reference to all of the sandpipers, plovers, stints and other waders found in Europe, Asia and North America. Plates (by Stephen Message, a much admired artist) show birds at rest and in flight, in every plumage variant likely to be encountered in the region. Species have been grouped, especially on the flight plates, so that similar species are shown close to each other. Facing text summarises key identification pointers to complete a quick-reference, field-friendly guide to this difficult and challenging group.
" [...] a definitive guide to the 124 species of the northern hemisphere waders"
– Birdy World (April 2006)
" [...] an excellent resource [...] "
– Birdwatch (May 2006)
" [...] the most significant book about waders to come out for some time [...] this book is a real advance for wader fans everywhere."
– Birdtours.co.uk (29th August 2006)
" [...] it is an excellent reference publication, and those with a particular interest in shorebirds will certainly want to consider it."
– Scottish Bird News (September 2006)
" [...] this is a useful addition to wader identification guides and, unlike many 'field' guides, is small and light enough to carry easily in a field bag."
– The British Ornithologists' Union (2006)
There has been a lot of effort put into this work, especially the artwork the originals of which must be quite stunning. The first thing I noticed though was the apparent limitation of the colours used in the printing process by the Chinese, and presumably cheap print job. As you flick through the plates you will notice the flatness of colour, most likely the fault of the printers, I doubt if the originals appear the same as in the book. You may recall the Shell Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland where the artists in particular were somewhat shocked to see the poor quality of the colour reproduction. Do authors and artists not attend the printing process start-up and audit the quality considering all of the work that goes into the making of such a work? For example, if you look at the Knots on plate 33 and compare it to the depiction by Dave Nurney on plate 79 of the Birds of East Asia (Brazil, 2009) regardless of subspecies variation, are we looking at different birds?
Also I would prefer to see the birds in flight on the same or adjacent plates rather than in separate sections of the book. As this 'Field Guide is longer and wider and approximately the same weight as the rather bulky and heavy Brazil effort, I shall be leaving it on the shelf for reference rather than carrying it in the field.
Don Taylor is a lifelong birder with a particular interest in waders. His previous books include Birding in Kent (Helm). Stephen Message is an acclaimed bird artist whose work appears in many books and articles.