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A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand
by Craig Robson
 
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This book is a must-have for any bird watcher in Thailand for the fact that it is the most up-to-date book for the region, containing the majority of the recent additions to the Thai list and includes all but the most recent splits. The 128 colour plates are drawn in great detail and are well spaced and clearly annotated, whilst the book itself is of a weight and size that lends itself to efficient use in the field. The organisation of this book is mostly clear and efficient with all text relating to the illustrations on the page opposite the plates, something which is not true for all field guides. The text for each species includes a clear and updated distribution map which can often be useful in identifying species, but care should be taken when doing this as range extensions are often reported for many species. Many people will also be pleased with the way species are ordered in a more up-to-date fashion which is indexed on the opening page pictorially for quick reference, although the dust cover does its best to prevent efficient use of this on the hardback version.

In many cases the detailed illustrations have made identification of certain species much easier than in the past; the Birds of Prey, Hawk Cuckoos and Reed Warblers are examples of this. However, in some cases the illustrations, although detailed, have not captured the true shape of the species and have placed them in poses atypical of their habits. This should be kept in mind particularly when identifying Terns as it seems there has been some distortion in the printing process and the pictures of Bay Owl and Large Wren Babbler are especially poor.

Space appears to have limited the amount of text in this book which means that there is no foreword regarding habitats or birding conditions in Thailand, although species text is mostly consice and is of a size which can be easily read. Occasionally, the species text contains lengthy descriptions of bird calls which I personally find virtually useless and it would often be better to include more information on behaviour.

Any faults aside, this book is essential for any birding trip to Thailand for the fact that it contains a far more complete set of species than older publications, although since publication a few species have been added to the Thai list and there have been major advances regarding the splitting of Gulls and Leaf Warblers. Overall, this book compares well to any other field guide and is more than adequate for identifying all the species one will see on any birding trip in Thailand.

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