Nothing beats a good field-guide when you’re trying to identify a bird you don’t recognise (or a field-guide app perhaps these days). But sometimes a traditional field-guide can feel unwieldy and a little cumbersome, especially for beginners who just need a quick reference to a particular group of birds.
Enter the brand new RSPB ID Spotlight series of fold-out identification charts from Bloomsbury Wildlife.
With text by Marianne Taylor and beautifully illustrated by Stephen Message, these convenient A5-sized charts fold out to reveal full-colour illustrations of species arranged by family, complete with name, size and current conservation status. Flip the chart over and on the reverse you’ll find well researched, well-written information on the bird groups, habitats, behaviour, diet and conservation.
Focus on British Birds
As an RSPB publication you’d expect the focus to be on British species, so it’s no surprise to see a few birds on the charts that we don’t get here in Ireland. The Garden Birds chart I reviewed, for example, includes Marsh Tit, Crested Tit, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch, any of which would cause quite a stir amongst the Irish twitching community.
There’s plenty of overlap though, which means the series is still relevant to an Irish audience looking to learn more about the birds they see.
Ideal for beginners and casual observers
Experienced or intermediate birders will probably find these charts a little limited, and they’re not going to replace a good field guide. However, they’re ideal for beginners or casual observers who want to look up birds from a particular group quickly and easily. They would also suit experienced birders or guides who regularly lead groups of limited experience in the field, and for teachers or parents introducing children to the wonder of birds.
One of the real boons of a fold-out chart like this, particularly if you’re just starting out, is that you can see all the birds at once, so you’re not flipping endlessly through a field guide trying to find the bird you’re looking for.
The RSPB ID Spotlight series is published by Bloomsbury Wildlife and is available to buy now through your local bookshop or favourite online retailer.
You’ll find the entire RSPB ID Spotlight series on Amazon here.
If insects are more your thing, the series also includes editions on Butterflies, Bees, Dragonflies. I’ll be reviewing those in a separate article soon.