Monday, November 14, 2011

4 New Titles

                                              
1) Aspinall, Simon and Richard Porter. Birds of the United Arab Emirates. 2011. Helm Field Guides. Paperback: 240 pages. Price: GBP 24.99 (about $39.73 U.S.).
SUMMARY: The UAE is an increasingly popular tourist destination, with a good infrastructure for visitors. This new field guide is based on the bestselling Birds of the Middle East (2nd edition) and covers all the birds of these Gulf states. The new text written by Simon Aspinall and Richard Porter is specific to the Gulf, and new maps are provided for all breeding birds and regular visitors. The plates are recomposed from Birds of the Middle East, with three extra plates of introduced species.
RECOMMENDATION: Birders interested in the UAE will like this book.

Buteo Books Link

                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                            
2) Dunlap, Thomas R.. In the Field, Among the Feathered: A History of Birders and Their Guides. 2011. Oxford University Press. Hardbound: 241 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: America is a nation of ardent, knowledgeable birdwatchers. But how did it become so? And what role did the field guide play in our passion for spotting, watching, and describing birds?
     In the Field, Among the Feathered tells the history of field guides to birds in America from the Victorian era to the present, relating changes in the guides to shifts in science, the craft of field identification, and new technologies for the mass reproduction of images. Drawing on his experience as a passionate birder and on a wealth of archival research, Thomas Dunlap shows how the twin pursuits of recreation and conservation have inspired birders and how field guides have served as the preferred method of informal education about nature for well over a century.
     The book begins with the first generation of late 19th-century birdwatchers who built the hobby when opera glasses were often the best available optics and bird identification was sketchy at best. As America became increasingly urban, birding became more attractive, and with Roger Tory Peterson's first field guide in 1934, birding grew in both popularity and accuracy. By the 1960s recreational birders were attaining new levels of expertise, even as the environmental movement made birding's other pole, conservation, a matter of human health and planetary survival. Dunlap concludes by showing how recreation and conservation have reached a new balance in the last 40 years, as scientists have increasingly turned to amateurs, whose expertise had been honed by the new guides, to gather the data they need to support habitat preservation.
     Putting nature lovers and citizen-activists at the heart of his work, Thomas Dunlap offers an entertaining history of America's long-standing love affair with birds, and with the books that have guided and informed their enthusiasm. This book features:

*First book to examine the development of this book genre, relating changes in the guides to shifts in science, the craft knowledge of field identification, and the developing technologies of birding photography.
*As a birder himself, author brings passion for the subject, inner knowledge of how birders think, and familiarity with guides.
*Examines the intersection of recreation, social class, and birding.

RECOMMENDATION: This book covers the time period between 1889 to 2008. A very good treatment on the subject and a must have for those interested in the history of the field guide!

Buteo Books Link

                                                                              
3) Harris, Mike P. and Sarah Wanless. The Puffin (2nd edition). 2011. T&AD Poyser. Hardbound: 256 pages. Price: GBP 50.00 (about $79.49 U.S.).
SUMMARY: With its colourful beak and fast, whirring flight, the Atlantic Puffin is the most recognisable and popular of all North Atlantic seabirds. Puffins spend most of the year at sea, but for a few months of the year the come to shore, nesting in burrows on steep cliffs or on inaccessible islands. Awe-inspiring numbers of these birds can sometimes be seen bobbing on the sea or flying in vast wheels over the colony, bringing fish in their beaks back to the chicks. However, the species has declined sharply over the last decade; this is due to a collapse in fish stocks caused by overfishing and global warming, combined with an exponential increase in Pipefish (which can kill the chicks).
     The Puffin is a revised and expanded second edition of Poyser's 1984 title on these endearing birds, widely considered to be a Poyser classic. It includes sections on their affinities, nesting and incubation, movements, foraging ecology, survivorship, predation, and research methodology; particular attention is paid to conservation, with the species considered an important ‘indicator’ of the health of our coasts.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for those with an interest in the species!

                                                                              
4) Redman, Nigel et al.. Birds of the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Socotra (2nd edition). 2011. Helm Field Guides. Paperback: 512 pages. Price: GBP 35.00 (about $55.64 U.S.).
SUMMARY: The Horn of Africa has the highest endemism of any region in Africa, and around 70 species are found nowhere else in the world. Many of these are confined to the isolated highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea, but a large number of larks specialise in the arid parts of Somalia and adjoining eastern Ethiopia, whilst the island of Socotra has its own suite of endemic species. The region is also an important migration route and wintering site for many Palearctic birds.
     This is the first field guide to the birds of this fascinating region, and a companion to Birds of East Africa by two of the same authors. Over 200 magnificent plates by John Gale and Brian Small illustrate every species that has ever occurred in the five countries covered by the guide, and the succinct text covers the key identification criteria. Special attention is paid to the voices of the species, and over 1000 up-to-date colour distribution maps are included.
     This long-awaited guide is a much-needed addition to the literature on African birds and an essential companion for birders visiting the region.
RECOMMENDATION: The page count has increased from 496 pages (1st edition) to 512 pages. If you didn't get the first edition, here's you chance to own this guide!

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