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A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore Hardcover – Apr 1 2012
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This very useful book is especially highly recommended for all birdwatchers traveling to the region. Acta Ornithol
About the Author
Allen Jeyarajasingam was born in Kuala Lumpur in August 1959 and has been interested in natural history since he was a child. He has contributed numerous articles and papers in nature magazines and journals in Malaysia and abroad. Allen's expertise has been in demand for consultancy work on surveys and other conservation projects in Malaysia. He has also travelled to Singapore, Japan, Mauritius, Kenya, the UK, and Australia in pursuit of birds. He is an active member of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and sits on the Bird Conservation Council of the society. He served as chairman of the council from 1999 - 2002 and was also chairman of the Records Committee from 1998 - 2005. He is one of the editors of the Council's Bimonthly Bulletin "SUARA ENGGANG" (Voice of the Hornbill). He has co-authored "BIRDS - A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore", published by Sun Tree Publishing (Singapore) in 1993. Alan Pearson is a secondary school teacher and freelance bird illustrator with over thirty-five years of experience bird watching around the world. He has illustrated six previous field guides covering Europe and North America, one of which has been translated into seven different languages, and he has contributed work to other books and magazines. Since marrying his Malaysian-born wife Anne twenty-five years ago, he has spent a large amount of time in that country, giving him considerable first-hand experience of the birds there. several publications to his credit.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The text is fine, though curiously uneven. For example, it devotes considerable space to the various species of Myna, which pose little identification difficulties, but less to the Barbets, where some species are quite similar. Thoughtfully, Appendix 2 contains a table of the different calls for the Barbets, which I stumbled onto, then found a reference in the discussion of the Barbet family.
There are almost no range maps. I guess the authors thought that the area was small enough they weren't required.
However, it is the illustrations that make this an inferior guide. First, the arrangement uses the "cheap field guide" technique, cramming as many pictures as possible onto the smallest number of plates to save money. This means that you have to turn to the text to learn anything except the most basic information about the birds. On top of that, the illustrations and the numbering of the birds is not coordinated well. Consider, for example, plate 23, which I chose at random. The plate is titled "Woodcock, Snipe, Turnstone, Knots, and Ruff. The list of birds on the facing page begins with #155, Eurasian Woodcock, but the first bird illustrated is #176, Ruddy Turnstone. The Eurasian Woodcock is buried in the middle of the page. Ruff, #190 is pictured at the bottom of the page with the list of birds, all by itself. The non-breeding male Ruff is shown with bright pink legs, but most that I have seen had yellow legs, not pink ones.
I bought this guide to prepare for a trip to Peninsula Malaysia. It seems to be the most comprehensive guide to the area. Unfortunately, it makes study quite difficult.
Maybe I would have a better opinion if I hadn't just seen the magnificent sixth revision of "Nat Geo."National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition (National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America) Now THAT is what a field guide should look like.
Each plate is faced with ID information about each species. They are numbered on each plate but can seem a bit jumbled at times with the first species numbered on the plate not being that which is at the top of the facing page, though this shouldn't be too difficult to find. Size is mentioned with a page reference for the species account and the descriptions are brief and basic.
The species accounts are preceded by a 72 page section on the region including maps, how to use the book, types of foliage and habitat, the avifauna, migration, breeding and two helpful sections on birding in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore with some site descriptions and what to find there.
The species accounts start with an overview of each family then the species within that family represented in the guide. Each species has English, Latin and Malay name with a plate reference. Then each species has description for both male and female, voice, range, habitat, habits, status and distribution. All species are covered by about a paragraph of information that will help you to identify the species concerned in this guide.
Following the species accounts there are several appendices that cover night bird calls, barbet calls; which can be helpful in discerning these somewhat similar and often hard to spot species, a table of hills, peaks and hill stations referred to in the text, islets and islands quoted in the text, and conservation and ornithological groups. Appendix 6 is a checklist of the species in the range with a key to the notes in the checklist following.
There are no range maps but the status and distribution covers where they can be found on the peninsula. This is the only real drawback to this guide and something I think can be reviewed in future editions. Following the page reference from the plate back to the species account each time to check on the viability of a species where you are on the peninsula could take a bit of time but other than that this is a fairly decent guide. It is a bit chunky but not so much so that you can't carry it for a day in the field. I would say it is a three and a half star guide.
The information you will find in this book but not in Robson includes:
1. Detailed description of the range and abundance of each species in peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. (This book also describes the global range of each species, which is omitted in the compact Robson volume).
2. In most cases, there is a relatively lengthy description of how to identify each species, including behavior. The Robson book's descriptions tend to be very concise and dry, and often omit information about behavior or how to distinguish similar species. While Robson sometimes references ID details this book omits, the reverse is also true. (This book also has descriptions of each family, which is omitted from the compact Robson.)
3. Obviously, the Robson book covers more species over a larger area. The narrower focus of the Malaysia and Singapore guide means the ID discussion can focus on comparing similar species in the region, rather than all of Southeast Asia.
4. The Robson book does not always depict subspecies found in peninsular Malaysia. The colors are also richer and less washed out than in Robson.
5. This book has a 70 page introduction reviewing the habitat, avifauna, conservation issues, ornithological history, and 31 key birding sites in the region.
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