Europe & Middle East
& Mailing Lists
WorldTwitch Book Awards 2002
This was another banner year for books of interest to world birders. Here are
the winners. Further comments and additional awards may be added. I wish to
thank the authors, artists and editors who have toiled to make these fine bird
books available, usually for minimal financial gain.
WorldTwitch 2002 Best Bird Reference Book
Del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott, Jordi Sargatal (eds.) Handbook of
Birds of the World, Volume 7. Lynx Edicions. This series is
of very high quality in all respects and seems to improve with
each volume. Volume 7 opens with a special, well-illustrated
section on extinct birds. The species covered in the text of
this volume include woodpeckers, barbets, toucans and
WorldTwitch 2002 Best Site Guide for Birders
Glenn. Best Birdwatching Sites in Norfolk. 224 pages. B/w
illustrations by Alan Harris. Cover illustration of Marsh
Harrier by Jan Wilczur. Buckingham Press, buck.press [at]
btinternet.com. 2002. ISSN: 0144-364.
Review by Dave Gosney. This outstanding site guide provides
detailed information, including telephone numbers, entrance
requirements, maps, and birding highlights for 73 reserves in
Norfolk, which probably is the most intensively birded county in
the world. While not in the "where to find birds" style, it
probably will be more useful most of the time because visitors
are likely either to go out with local birders who know their
way around or to follow directions to vagrants reported on the
birding information services.
Purists may object, but my
favorite bird seen in Norfolk was a fine cock
Golden Pheasant, an introduced species that is nearly as
difficult to see well in England as in China. I feel especially
fortunate, after reading in Glenn that "there are horror stories
of people visiting [the Wolverton Triangle] more than 100 times
WorldTwitch 2002 Best Bird Book - Europe and the Middle East (2 Awards)
Guide to the Birds of Europe. (UK: Collins Bird Guide.)
Large paper edition of the Collins Bird Guide. Killian
Mullarney, Lars Svensson, Dan Zetterström & Peter J. Grant.
HarperCollins (2000) & Princeton University Press (2002). This
book actually first appeared in the UK in 2000, and receives the
WorldTwitch award belatedly because it was released in the US in
2002. I consider this to be the world's finest single-volume
bird book and the field guide version to be the world's finest
field guide. The color plates are magnificent, and space is
particularly well utilized to provide essential identification
details. Furthermore, there is such striking similarity in the
styles of the two artists, Mullarney and Zetterström, that it is
almost impossible to distinguish their work.
German Language Edition is also available.]
Dempsey. Illustrated by Michael O'Cleary. The Complete Guide
to Ireland's Birds. 262 pages.
Details. Gill & Macmillan 2002. This attractive guide, well
illustrated by the designer of the WorldTwitch logo, presents
updated distributional and conservation information on the birds
of Ireland. Of particular interest are the comparative
illustrations of Irish, British and Continental races of Coal
Tit, Dipper, Jay and Red Grouse. I associate Ireland with
Corncrake more than any other bird, and it is consequently
distressing to read that the species continues to slide toward
extinction due to changes in farming practice.
WorldTwitch 2002 Best Bird Book - Africa (2 Awards)
Borrow & Ron Demey. A Guide to the Birds of Western Africa.
The first comprehensive field guide to the birds of West
Africa. 147 color plates depicting over 1200 species. 816 pages.
Helm & Princeton University Press 2002.
UK - PUP |
UK - Helm |
Reduced, paperback field guide edition (2004):
The publication of Birds of Western Africa represents
the greatest ornithological achievement of 2002. Although West
Africa is rich in birdlife and endemics, this is the first
modern field guide covering the preponderance of the area.
Furthermore, the color plates are a one-man tour de force by Nik
Borrow. Bird books usually are more appealing to the eye when
the plates are all by same artist or by artists with very
similar styles, and this is no exception.
Twitchers will appreciate the authors' decision to highlight
in red on the facing plate notes the status of birds on the
endangered species list. However, those species represent only a
fraction of the endemics that are rare and undoubtedly
threatened in the foreseeable future by Africa's unending
population explosion and the resultant wholesale elimination of
There is excellent coverage of the birds of the Gulf of
Guinea Islands -- São Tomé, Príncipe and Annobón, all of which
hold interesting and endangered endemics. See the detailed
review by the late G. Stuart Keith in Birding, 35(1):
86-88 (February 2003). Birders heading to West Africa should
also take along the recently published (2003) compact guide by
Ber Van Perlo, which might be carried in the field while this
volume remains in the car.
Sinclair, Phil Hockey & Warwick Tarboton. Illustrated by Peter
Hayman & Norman Arlott. Birds of Southern Africa. 464
pages. Struik & Princeton University Press. 3rd Edition, 2002.
Covers 31 species not in the second edition.
In addition to major taxonomic updates and coverage of
additional species, the newest edition of the SASOL guide
features enhanced usability that makes it one of the world's
best designed field guides. In fact, it is so appealing that I
would recommend that anyone writing a field guide obtain this
book and copy the format. The text and illustrations are the
best of any African bird field guide to date.
WorldTwitch 2002 Best Bird Book - Asia
Robson. Birds of Thailand. 272 pages. New Holland &
Princeton University Press, 2002. Fine color illustrations and
abbreviated text from Robson's Guide to the Birds of
Southeast Asia. This field guide is much easier to use in
Thailand than Robson's more comprehensive book and more
up-to-date than Boonsong & Round (1990). It is one of the most
successful spin-off guides and should be followed by a similar
country guide for Malaysia. One technical complaint is that
non-experts may have difficulty matching the illustrations to
facing plate text. This could be resolved in a subsequent
printing by inclusion of dividing lines and bird names on the
plates, as was done in the extremely user-friendly Birds of
WorldTwitch 2002 Best Bird Book - Australasia
J. Higgins & John M. Peter (eds.) Handbook of Australian, New
Zealand & Antarctic Birds (HANZAB). Volume 6: Pardalotes to
Shrike-thrushes. 1225 pages. 37 color plates.
Details. Oxford University Press 2002.
The latest volume of HANZAB covers many species
of little brown birds of considerable interest to twitchers such
as gerygones, thornbills and whitefaces, along with distinctive
species such as the bristlebirds, logrunners, quail-thrushes,
whipbirds, and Crested Bellbird. More information has been
gathered in one place on each species than in any prior
publication, and a detailed bibliography follows each species
account. There are maps and color illustrations of every species
and sonograms for most.
HANZAB Volume 6 goes far beyond the fine Australian field
guides, not only in its detailed descriptions of the birds'
behavior, distribution, movements, and conservation status, but
also on many points relevant to field identification. Thus, for
example, there is more than a full page on the voice and vocal
behavior of Western Whipbird. Extensive descriptions of similar
species and how to distinguish them are particularly useful for
trip preparation. In sum, this set is the essential reference on
the birds of Australia and New Zealand.
WorldTwitch 2002 Best Bird Book - South America
L. Hilty. Birds of Venezuela. Second edition. 878 pages.
Completely new, except for the color plates by Guy Tudor, John
Gywnne and Larry McQueen (1 - swallows) from the first edition
and Birds of Colombia. Authoritative text by Steve Hilty,
31 new color plates by John Gwynne, Sophie Webb (5 - nightbirds)
and Alejandro Grajal (2 - cracids), and 44 color photos of
habitats. Princeton University Press & Helm. Dated 2003, but
released in December 2002.
The new edition of Birds of Venezuela is
about twice as large as the first edition, with a vastly
improved text and replacements for the most problematic plates.
From published and unpublished literature and his own and
others' personal observations, Steve Hilty has compiled
comprehensive field identification notes for each species, along
with detailed distributional information and range maps. He also
has incorporated the latest taxonomic revisions, for example,
the split of Hepatic Tanager into four or five species.
The color plates by Guy Tudor remain among the finest
field guide paintings every published. Unfortunately, due to
varying color quality control of the reprinted plates, some
illustrations came out too light, distorting field marks that
could be seen in the well-printed first edition, such as the red
iris of Rufous-tailed Tyrant (plate 45). However, a few of the
paintings are sharper than in the previous volumes -- compare,
for example, the bright Laniisoma on plate 50 with the original
reproduction in Birds of Colombia.
If you don't have the first edition, pick up a library copy
for the fine color printing and the snappy facing plate notes by
Guy Tudor. But the new second edition is the guide to use
in the field in northern South America.
UK (PUP) |
WorldTwitch 2002 Best Bird Book - Oceans and Islands
Shirihai. A Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife: The birds
and mammals of the Antarctic Continent and Southern Ocean.
Illustrated by Brett Jarrett. Edited by Guy Kirwan. 512 pages.
35 plates. 600 photographs. Alula Press & Princeton University
Press 2002 (Brochure
In a very short time, Hadoram Shirihai
with editorial assistance from Guy Kirwan, has produced two of
the finest recent natural history books -- the current volume
and Sylvia Warblers, winner of a 2001 WorldTwitch award
and the best bird family volume to date. The Antarctic guide is
an incredibly comprehensive book that is useful for both broad
and narrow purposes. This is the place to begin to understand
the natural history of the Antarctic region, yet it is also is
useful in preparing for a trip and probably is the best
available field guide for most areas covered. The book has been
printed entirely on glossy paper, since nearly every page
includes color illustrations and maps.
WorldTwitch 2002 Best Bird Families Books (3 Awards)
Short & Jennifer Horne. Illustrated by Al Gilbert. Toucans,
Barbets & Honeyguides. 526 pages, 36 fine color plates by
Albert Earl Gilbert. 17 color photographs. Oxford University
This is one of the finest books on a bird family
published to date. The authors have condensed their encyclopedic
knowledge of the toucans, barbets and honeyguides into a highly
readable volume, with great emphasis on characteristics and
behavior observed in the field, including associations with
Madge & Phil McGowan. With Guy Kirwan. Illustrated by Norman
Arlott, Robin Budden, Daniel Cole, John Cox, Carl D'Silva, Kim
Franklin & David Mead. Pheasants, Partridges and Grouse.
A Guide to the Pheasants, Patridges, Quails, Grouse, Guineafowl,
Buttonquails, and Sandgrouse of the World. 488 pages. 72
color plates. Christopher Helm & Princeton University Press
UK - Helm |
UK - PUP |
The bird families covered by this authoritative
guide are of particular interest to twitchers. Many of the
largest and most brilliantly plumaged species skulk in dense
forest or scrub, rarely allowing more than a fleeting glimpse.
The text includes details relevant to field identification that
sometimes are more useful that the plates, many of which appear
to have been painted without field experience with the birds.
Thus, for example, both the Black Wood-Partridge of Malaysia and
Long-tailed Wood-Partridge (Tree-Quail) of Mexico are likely to
be seen with tail cocked up -- the former resembles a rail and
the latter a rooster -- and not as illustrated with tails down.
Ogilvie. Illustrated by
Chris Rose. Grebes of the World. 112 pages. [Sample
plate.] Bruce Coleman 2002.
This is a beautifully illustrated, large format
survey of the grebes of the world, with narrative text by the
waterfowl authority Malcolm Ogilvie. Each full-page plate shows
a grebe species in its natural habitat. The artist's depiction
of water, especially reflections and shadows, is as interesting
as the birds themselves, and brings to mind the illustrations in
the Birds of Greenland.
WorldTwitch 2002 Best Bird Art Book
Jonsson. Birds and Light: The Art of Lars Jonsson. 224
Details. Superb "coffee table" book. The life story of Lars
Jonsson, with many field sketches, previously unpublished
paintings, and plates from his field guides. Helm & Princeton
University Press 2002.
Lars Jonsson is one of the world's finest bird
artists, best known for his series of European field guides,
culminating in Birds of Europe, the brilliant field guide
that nearly everyone used in Europe prior to the publication of
Mullarney & Svensson. This is a classic gift book for anyone
interested in birds or fine nature art.
WorldTwitch 2002 Best Birding Adventure Book
WorldTwitch 2002 Best Bird Distribution Book
Roberson. Monterey Birds. Status and Distribution of
Birds in Monterey County, California. Second edition 2002.
Errata. Completely revised and expanded version of the 1985
book. 544 pages. Covers 482 species, 55 more than the first
edition. 60 color photos of vagrants and regional endemics on 16
plates and 60 b/w photos in the text.
Details from Don's website.
Monterey is the U.S. port with the largest
number of scheduled pelagic birding trips. Consequently, most
serious North American and world birders visit Monterey, often
repeatedly. While in the area for a pelagic trip, there are many
possibilities for land birding in the great variety of habitats
within Monterey County.
Don Roberson has produced a book of the same high quality as
Creagrus website. I used the first edition so often that it
is now falling apart. The new second edition is about twice as
thick as the first, and is packed with information helpful in
choosing the time of year for a pelagic trip, planning your trip
and finding and identifying wanted birds.
WorldTwitch 2002 Best Value Natural History Book
|Sweringen, J., K. Reshetiloff, B. Slattery & S.
Zwicker. Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas.
National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service,
Washington, D.C. 2002. 82 pages. Color photos.
WorldTwitch 2000 Book
WorldTwitch 2001 Book
WorldTwitch 2003 Book
WorldTwitch 2004 Book