Field Guide to Australian Birds
Field Guide to Australian Birds [Complete Compact Edition] By Michael Morcombe Steve Parish Publishing 2004 ISBN 1740215591
Some while ago [May 2004] I reviewed the full-scale version of this guide saying “Morcombe probably has the best illustrations and reminds me of the Sibley North American Guide. It is wonderfully well laid out but it is a bit cumbersome to carry in the field…” I haven’t a great memory nor have I looked back through these archived reviews to remind myself I said it – it says so on the back cover of this new compact edition. Being quoted on a book-jacket is a first for Fatbirder and not just brings a swelling chest of pride but a timely reminder of that old Chinese proverb - be careful of what you wish for, as it may come true!
However, in this case I could not be more pleased that the wish is made flesh as it were. This is the best of all possible worlds, my favourite guide to Australia made small enough to truly be a fieldguide not a home reference. On my birding trips to Australia I have always used Simpson & Day – and a very good book it is too. But I know now what I would take with me if I get a chance to go again and I now have it on my shelves. This really is excellent; the illustrations are barely reduced but the text has been reduced in font and boiled down to a precise and necessary few words. The distribution maps cannot be big but they are clear and good enough – you can tell whether the bird could be observed where you are sufficiently well. All the ID features are pointed out for you and the small but crisp images are still excellent.
Of course I can’t have it both ways – smaller size with large print – so I would need to carry my reading spectacles with me as any attempt to read would otherwise be thwarted, but that is a small price to pay; and probably only effects us old birding blokes anyway. One other feature I love – again a feature seen in Sibley- are pages with whole families in miniature for quick reference – after all, this is all you need to tell apart most of the species you see. As a true field guide it looks durable too with a strong plastic-coated cover sporting an index-come-family-list that folds out to use to mark your current page. I have no hesitation is recommending the book and urge you to buy it even if you have, as I do, a full set of Australian Fieldguides and then you can pray to the god of birding to make it possible for you to go to Australia to see the birds in the feather.
Created: 02nd Sep 2005