by Nick Upton
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A Guide to the Birds of South East Asia
by Craig Robson
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This quite excellent book is packed full of quality illustrations and written information on 1251 species recorded in Southeast Asia. Even with this number of species this book has been kept to a size which is easily carried in the field, although may be a little too large for many pockets. For those visiting Thailand as part of an extended trip to surrounding countries this book is a must as it is the only guide which depicts all Southeast Asian species in colour and is by far the most up-to-date guide for the region. A brief, but interesting section at the beginning of this book introduces the reader to the main habitats to be found in the region and an extensive list of references for the ornithologist interested in more scientific reading on the region's avifauna. For birders travelling only to Thailand, however, there is a dilemma in choosing whether to buy this book or the more specific Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand by the same author or the Guide to the Birds of Thailand by Lekagul and Round.

A number of small problems prevent this book from reaching perfection, and one of the most confusing of these is the huge number of illustrations crammed into each of the 104 plates. Although these are clearly labelled and referenced, such is the number of pictures on each page that it can be quite visually confusing at times and may slow identification of species, particularly for those new to the region. Obviously this issue has been a result of trying to keep the number of pages as low as possible, but a little has been lost in clarity of layout to gain in carryability.

A small amount of text is placed opposite the plates for each of the species, with a much larger amount of informative text in the section at the back. The text with the plates is largely descriptive and as this is reasonably obvious from the pictures it may have been better to have included key identification points in this limited space.

Still, these are minor points when considering the large amount of species covered in this book and for those birding close to Thailand's borders with other countries this could be vital in identifying species that have not before been recorded in Thailand. Given that many regions of Thailand have been seldom visited by birders this could potentially be a real issue.

My choice would be to have this book as well as A Guide to the Birds of Thailand for any birding trip to Thailand.

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