Barn Owl
Black-headed Gull
Black Redstart
Blue Tit
Carrion Crow
Coal Tit
Collared Dove
Common Gull
Crested Tit
Feral Pigeon
Garden Warbler
Great Black-backed Gull
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Tit
Green Woodpecker
Grey Heron
Grey Partridge
Grey Wagtail
Herring Gull
House Martin
House Sparrow
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Whitethroat
Little Owl
Long-eared Owl
Long-tailed Tit
Marsh Tit
Meadow Pipit
Mistle Thrush
Pied Flycatcher
Pied Wagtail
Red Kite
Red-legged Partridge
Reed Bunting
Ring-necked Parakeet
Sand Martin
Short-eared Owl
Song Thrush
Spotted Flycatcher
Stock Dove
Tawny Owl
Tree Sparrow
Turtle Dove
Willow Tit
Willow Warbler
Wood Pigeon
Yellow Wagtail

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Field Guides

These books are suitable for use out-in-the-field and can be carried in a coat pocket or rucksack, but are equally enjoyable to read in an armchair.

cover Bird Guide; K. Mullarney, L. Svensson, D. Zetterstrom, and P. Grant; Collins; ISBN 0007267266; 2010
This book has been praised by most birders ever since it was first published (in 1999) for its excellent pictures and descriptions of over 700 species and is now in its second edition. I think it is outstanding and a worthy addition to any bookshelf, but a little too large (21cm x 14cm) for a coat pocket and beginners may be overwhelmed by the number of species covered. Now available in hardback (this edition), paperback (see below) and large format.

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cover A Field Guide to Monitoring Nests; J. Fergusson-Lees et. al; British Trust for Ornithology; ISBN 1906204799; 2012
This is a fantastic book and is likely to be the definitive guide for the foreseeable future for those monitoring birds' nests, or just wanting to learn more about them. Each species' account includes nest site, which sex builds, incubates and feeds the young, tips on locating the nest, and copious pictures of nests, eggs and young birds.

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cover Bird Guide; K. Mullarney, L. Svensson, D. Zetterstrom, and P. Grant; Collins; ISBN 0007268149; 2001
Same as above but this is the paperback edition.

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cover RSPB Handbook of British Birds; P. Holden and T. Cleeves; Helm; ISBN 0713675608; 2006
The blurb on the back cover states: "more than an excellent field guide. This is the ideal basic reference work for birdwatchers of all levels of interest and experience. Covering the 280 commonest birds in Britain and Ireland, the concise text offers a biography of each species in simple, non-technical language, including key information on identification, behaviour and conservation. It is enhanced throughout with superb colour illustrations by some of the world's leading bird artists." And, it does just that - there are better field guides, such as Collins' Bird Guide, but this adds information you would usually find in larger references, such as Birds of the Western Palaearctic. Now in its second edition.

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cover Pocket Guide Birds of Britain and Ireland; J. Gooders; Larousse; ISBN 0752300164; 1995
A splendid pocket-sized book (15cm x 10cm) covering 250 species that are regularly seen in the British Isles. This is the book I take with me on field trips.

Now published by Kingfisher Publishing (ISBN 0753407442).

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cover Raptors of the World; J. Ferguson-Lees & D. Christie; Helm; ISBN 0713669578 ; 2005
Whether you are a raptor enthusiast or simply curious about the World's birds of prey then this book will wet your appetite. Superbly illustrated, each of the 340 species is accompanied by distribution maps and key identification details. Please note that this book does not include Owls.

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cover Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe; J. Oates; Automobile Association; AA Publishing; ISBN 0749517670; 1998
This is as large (19cm x 11cm) as I would want a field guide to be, but the 530 species are described concisely and accompanied by good illustrations of the birds, together with distribution maps and pages comparing similar birds.

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cover Collins Gem Birds Photoguide; J. Flegg; Harper Collins; ISBN 0004705440; 1994
Guides do not come much smaller than this (12cm x 8cm), but despite its small size it is a great field guide especially for beginners. As with most smaller photographic guides, most of the photographs are of male birds.

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cover Birds of Britain and Europe; J. Nicolai, D. Singer, and K. Wothe; Collins; ISBN 0002199955; 1994
A good book (18cm x 10cm) for beginners covering over 300 species, but most of the photographs are of male birds and so identification of females and juveniles can be difficult when relying on descriptions only.

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cover The MacMillan Field Guide to Bird Identification; A. Harris, et. al; MacMillan Press; ISBN 0333592808; 1990
This sounds like another ordinary field guide - but how wrong you would be. This book (19cm x 13cm) dedicates itself to identifying the "confusion" species, so if you, like me, don't know your willow warblers from your chiffchaffs this is the book for you!

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cover The Pocket Guide to Garden Birds; D. Couzens & M. Langman; Mitchell Beazley; ISBN 1840002700; 1999
Excellent! Not only are the illustrations life like but they capture the birds in typical situations, and the text, as well as describing the plumage, highlights key postures and behaviours that assist in identification.

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cover Birds of Europe with North Africa and the Middle East; Lars Jonsson; Helm; ISBN 0713652381; 1999
This was arguably the best field guide before Collins Bird Guide and can still take second place. There are over 2500 illustrations, which are bigger than those in Collins Bird Guide, however, the general layout is not as straightforward. The early pages give an excellent introduction to anatomy, aging, behaviour, etc.

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cover The Birdwatcher's Handbook; M. Elphick; BBC; ISBN 0563534168; 2001
This is an interesting, if different, book. There are much better field guides for identifying birds but few contain the detailed information that this one does, for example: weight, length, wingspan, populations, etc. A good book for learning more about the birds' lives.

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Beazley Birdwatcher's Pocket Guide; P. Hayman; Mitchell Beazley; ISBN 0855331488; 1998
A superb pocket sized (20cm x 10cm) book with excellent illustrations, though one or two are rather vague, and reasonably detailed but succinct descriptions of most birds that will be seen in Britain.
Beazley The Birdwatcher's Pocket Guide to Britain and Europe; R. Hume; Mitchell Beazley; ISBN 1845334353; 2009
This covers 430 European species and, as a consequence of its size, the illustrations are small but the detail in them is superb. Underneath the pictures, short and snappy text provides further guidance, including notes on discriminating between confusion species, and descriptions of their songs and calls. If you travel around Europe this is the bird guide to have.

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Fergusson-Lees The Shell Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland; J. Ferguson-Lees, I. Willis, and J.T.R. Sharrock; Michael Joseph; ISBN 0718122208; 1994
The illustrations are a little wishy-washy, but are paradoxically very accurate. The descriptions are excellent and the book covers some vagrants that Collins' Bird Guide misses. This book is no longer in print but some copies remain on bookshop shelves.
  The Pocket Guide to British Birds; R.S.R. Fitter & R.A. Richardson; Collins; 1952
Out-of-print: describes birds, categorising them by habitat and size. Includes migration tables.
  A Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe; R. Peterson, et. al; Collins; 1956
Out-of-print: this is widely regarded as being the first comprehensive field guide and became the benchmark for all other guides. Many of the illustrations are in black and white, but it's a good book even today.
Collins Guide to Birdwatching Collins Guide to Birdwatching; R.S.R. Fitter; Collins; 1967
Out-of-print: tells you how to watch and feed birds, how to identify common species and where to go to see birds in other habitats.
Birds - Swifts to Finches Birds - Swifts to Finches; C. Konig; Collins; 1973
Birds - Divers to Owls; C. Konig; Collins; 1973
Both of these books have many photographic plates and good descriptions of the birds, feeding, habitats, etc. Out of print and my copies are falling apart from many year's use.

Last revision: 21 Feb 2015
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2018.
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