The Birdwatchers Pocket Guide to Britain and Europe, cover

This is an inexpensive and genuinely pocketable field guide for birdwatchers. It provides comprehensive coverage of birds that are regularly seen in Britain and Europe.

A Compact Field Guide for Both Serious and Casual Ornithologists

The Birdwatchers Pocket Guide to Britain and Europe is a slim format hardback that will fit in the pocket of a field jacket or backpack.

It will be an invaluable companion to anyone interested in identifying the birds they see in their travels. The copy used for this review now sits by the garden window with a pair of inexpensive binoculars so that visitors to the bird feeders and garden trees can be identified.

All Birds Species That Visit or Breed in Europe

This field guide includes the 430 species of birds that breed in or visit Europe regularly.

The Birdwatcher's Pocket Guide to Britain and Europe is organised by the main groups such as Wildfowl, Birds of Prey or Sparrows, Finches and Buntings. There are nineteen such sections which are colour coded to make finding them easier – the regular user will soon remember the main colour codes and layout.

There is a brief index of bird species but it unfortunately does not go any further.

Detailed Illustrations

As a field guide needs to be, The Birdwatcher’s Pocket Guide is well illustrated with artist’s coloured drawings which many will find more useful than photographs as they often better highlight the key points of identification.

The illustrations show:

  • Male, female and juvenile plumage
  • Seasonal plumage changes
  • Birds at rest
  • Birds in flight
  • Other, more specific, details to aid identification

Omissions are Well Considered

Some more occasional visitors have been excluded and there are no maps showing the featured species’ geographical range, habitat and seasonal migration. The authors’ acknowledge the importance of such material but had to make a conscious decision to keep the book compact enough for field use at the expense of such information. Quite rightly they suggest that such subjects can be explored at leisure with a more comprehensive, and much larger, reference books. It was a sensible choice as it has enabled more detailed coverage of the information needed in the field and kept the book to a sensible size.

A Compact and Useful Field Guide

The Birdwatchers Pocket Guide to Britain and Europe is therefore a useful guide to bird identification in the field for the keen birdwatcher. It will also provide an inexpensive reference for those with a more occasional need to identifdy birds visiting their garden.

An Invaluable Little Volume for Bird Lovers, However Serious

Both authors have had published a host of authoritative titles. Peter Hayman is acclaimed for his meticulous illustrations, so crucial here in The Birdwatcher’s Pocket Guide to Britain and Europe. Rob Hume is Editor of the Royal Society for Protection of Birds’ magazine Birds and has been Chairman of the British Birds Rarities Committee. In 1973 he discovered a species new to Britain: the American Ring-billed Gull.

The Birdwatchers Pocket Guide to Britain and Europe (2008, ISBN:978-1-84533-435-2) by Peter Hayman and Rob Hume is published in hardback by Mitchell Beazley at £9.99.


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