COLLINS FIELD GUIDE –­ BIRDS OF THE PALEARCTIC: PASSERINES By Norman Arlott. HarperCollins, London, 2007. 240 pages; 80 colour plates; numerous distribution maps. ISBN 978-0-00-714705-2. Hardback, £25.00. there is currently little available information in field-guide format. The approach to taxonomy is very conservative. Despite the author's claim that most major subspecies are illustrated, there is, for example, no mention of races of Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans or Orphean Warbler S. hortensis, even though the latter is now generally recognised as comprising two different species. On the flip side, however, the wagtail plates usefully illustrate the head and upper bodies of males of ten subspecies of flava and eight subspecies of alba wagtail. The plates are inevitably a little crowded and are limited to adult plumages only. They are of variable quality but many of them are very good. I particularly enjoyed drooling over the chats and thrushes (Turdidae) but was disappointed by the Phylloscopus warblers. Sadly, I suspect that the author has been let down by the colour reproduction in places. The text is quite limited and comprises short sections on field notes, song/call and habitat. The field-notes section is particularly disappointing and really lets the book down. Although space is tight, many texts will offer little or no help in trying to resolve an identification. For example, we are told that Sky Lark Alauda arvensis forms winter flocks while Oriental Lark A. gulgula is more secretive than Sky Lark.

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