Pocket Guide: Birds of Southern Africa, by Ian Sinclair
Pocket Guide: Birds of Southern Africa by Ian Sinclair, covers an astonishing 500 southern African birds yet is small enough to fit in your pocket.
Southern Africa is prime birdwatching terrain, supporting as it does almost 1 000 bird species, which is about 10 per cent of the world's entire bird population. Some 170 of these, particularly in the southwestern regions, are endemics (meaning they are found nowhere else in the world); the more tropical north and east of the region are known for their astonishing diversity of birds; and the coastal regions offer a variety of pelagic birds. This handy-format, compact guide will help birders identify most of the many birds encountered on day trips and longer birding holidays. With the advent of digital photography a whole new range of excellent images has become available. This pocket guide features photographic identification of 500 birds, and includes species from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It gives identification details and where they differ, describes females, juveniles and immatures. Specific flight patterns are discussed where this facilitates identification. It also offers details of habitat, status, call and bird size. The featured species are not necessarily the most common in southern Africa, but they are usually the more conspicuous birds and are thus more likely to be encountered - along the coasts, in nature or game reserves, and even in urban areas. Although most birds are visible, and many are abundant, they are not always easy to identify correctly. If a bird is not clearly seen, or is seen for only a short period, or if a feature on the bird appears exaggerated, it could lead to misidentification. We are more likely to make the correct identification by aiming for sustained and better viewing of these elusive creatures. Readers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the different species by leafing through the book in order to recognise a range of birds before even encountering them. When confronted with a bird that's hard to identify, first judge its size, then try to work out its general shape, colour pattern, the length of its tail, shape of its wings and any other detail that might be conspicuous. Often there is one striking feature that is sufficient to distinguish the bird, but sometimes it takes the combination of several features to make a positive identification. By using this book in the field you should be able to identify the birds you have seen, or at least be able to narrow down the search to particular bird families and then later identify them at home using one of the more comprehensive birding books. In theory, the most satisfactory way to be certain of an identification is to photograph the bird and then, at your leisure, identify it from the photograph by consulting books or by showing the photograph to an expert. This is now quite feasible, using a digital camera with 10x zoom - even one of the less expensive models available today. An alternative idea is to use a notebook and pencil to jot down details of the bird you are watching and to make a rudimentary sketch showing its obvious features. From your notes and sketches the bird should be relatively easy to identify at a later stage. Seasoned birders will have acquired various pieces of equipment to help in their birding ventures; help is available in books and on the Internet about which binoculars, telescope, tape recorder/iPod, etc, will best suit your purposes, as well as advice on where and when to go birding in southern Africa. Courses on bird identification are offered by clubs, societies and universities, and these all help to hone your skills in the field. There is, however, no substitute for first-hand observation: the longer you spend in the field improving your ability to identify birds correctly, the greater will be your understanding of - and pleasure in - birding in general.
This is an excerpt from the bird guide: Pocket Guide: Birds of Southern Africa, by Ian Sinclair.
Book title: Pocket Guide: Birds of Southern Africa
Author: Ian Sinclair
Publisher: Random House Struik
Cape Town, South Africa 2009
ISBN 9781770077690 / ISBN 978-1-77007-769-0
Softcover, 11x18 cm, 144 pages, 500 photographs
Sinclair, Ian im Namibiana-Buchangebot
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