By Rob Hume, Robert Still, Andy Swash, Hugh Harrop and David Tipling
Pbk, 578pp; over 3,200 colour photographs
ISBN 978-0-691-19979-5; £19.99
This second edition is a long-awaited and fully revised book, appearing some four years after the first edition (see Brit. Birds 109: 641–642). The format remains the same, and the new one is more or less the same size as the first: an extra 18 pages have been added to help cover 12 new species and digest the various taxonomic revisions of the past four years. More than 400 new or replacement photos have been added, many plates have been redesigned and particular attention has been paid to the photographic annotations. The species accounts have also been revised, to add new information on identification, but especially status, populations and taxonomy.
The first book was widely admired, but badly let down by an unfortunately large number of labelling errors relating to the identification, ageing and sexing of the birds shown. Particular attention has been paid to that in the second edition, and probably explains why it has taken quite so long for it to come onto the market. It has been worth the wait, however; this is now a much more reliable guide, and the impact of taking on Chris Batty to check the identification, age and sex of the bird in each photograph is very clear. It is still terrific value for money for such a well-produced guide, and the improvements to this edition mean that most people who bought the first will probably want to buy this one too.