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Gulls of Europe, Asia and North America by Klaus Malling Olsen & Hans Larsson
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Gulls are perhaps one of the most difficult bird families to get to grips with and, indeed, there is still much to learn about the taxonomic status of many species/subspecies. This weighty book, published by Helm, is on hand for those birders wishing to learn more about gull distribution, identification and, perhaps most importantly, moult patterns.

This book contains authoritative text concerning the identification of previously little known species/subspecies of gulls and does an excellent job of conveying the subtle differences to look for in the field with a combination of plates and numerous photographs for each type. Each species has its own section in the book with subsections including "identification", "moult", "geographical variation" and "distribution and migration" along with a distributional map which, for Thai birders, can prove useful for predicting which species may be found in Thailand in the future.

Whilst the body of the book deals with the many species of gulls, there is also a useful introduction which gives general advice on which features to look for in gull identification, including notes on how to age gulls and recognise hybrids.

Although this guide is perhaps too large to carry around for most birders, its size is certainly not prohibitive to those specialising in gulls and it is an essential source of information for birders hoping to identify gulls as they travel worldwide.

There are few problems with this publication, perhaps one of the only criticisms I could level at it is that there could be more use of comparative illustrations to help separate similar species, although there is a section near the beginning of the book which compares large gulls. One other slight downfall of this book is that it was perhaps published too early and with an already increased knowledge of gull taxonomy, it is already slightly outdated in parts.

These issues aside, Gulls is certainly by far the best source of information on this group of difficult species available and is a superb book which requires a lot of reading in order to get the most out of it.

This is one of the best bird guides I have used and birders throughout the world would do well to add it to their collection.

With the lack of information on gulls in both Robson and Lekagul & Round, Gulls is an essential addition to the library for birdwatchers hoping to get to grips with Thailand's gulls. This guide is almost essential if planning a trip to the sand spit at Laem Pak Bia in winter.

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