Book reviews:    Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent

book33a.jpg (26239 bytes) Title
Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent
Grimmet, Inskipp, Inskipp
0 7136 5156 2
Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd
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I bought this books several weeks before I was going on a trip to Goa in India, in november 2000. This was the guide book I choose, after comparing many field guides about birds of the Indian subcontinent. This book to me seemed like the best of the lot. Many other books in the bookstore were either to small and showed very few birds or with little detail in the drawings, or they were very big and expensive. So this one seemed like a very good choice inbetween. And it turned out to be a good choice in the field.

book33b.jpg (43121 bytes)The book is standard field guide size with a softback. It covers all the species (some 1300) which can be found on the Indian subcontinent. So besides India itself, it also includes regions such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. And even the Maldives.

There are 153 colour plates with very good, highly detailed , drawings of all the bird species. The drawings are very good and they do show a lot of detail in coloration. Compared to some other guide books, I found these drawings to look more three dimensional, whereas the drawings in other books seemed much more flat.

Of course there is an introduction chapter with general information on birds and the region's habitats. Then most of the book is as shown in the picture on the left. A color plate showing the birds, sometimes with additional drawings for male, female, juvenile etc. Sometimes there are also seperate drawings for different postures of the bird, or for the bird in flight. On the page opposite to the drawings there is a description of the bird and the kind of habitat it lives in. The description is short but adequate for identification. Each bird species also has a distribution chart. Unfortunately they are not always shown on the same page. So sometimes you have to search for it. Page numbers for distribution charts are mentioned in the description, but still it would have been easier to have them on the same page.

At the end of the book there are some very handy identification tables for nightjars, larks, rosefinches and of course warblers. And the book ends with indexes of english and scientific names.

Conclusion: If you are planning a birding trip to one of the countries in the Indian subcontinent, then this book is probably what you are looking for. It is very handy and has all the nearly 1300 bird species of the region together. The layout with text and drawings together is very handy. The drawings in this book are very high quality. Definitely recommended !

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