Sunday, November 30, 2014

Field Guide - a simple supplement.

 First Edition. See my review of the second edition of this book.

Supplement to the new Taiwan Bird Field Guide.

This is a supplement to the Chinese-language ‘Field Guide of Wild Bird in Taiwan’ published October 2014 by Taipei Wild Bird Society and the Forestry Bureau. ISBN 978-986-04-2555-0 My aim here is to make this already excellent book a bit more useful for non-Chinese readers.

This is version 2 published here January 12th 2015. Later versions will hopefully include more relevant details. Feel free to send suggestions.

Consider combining this field guide with Mark Brazil’s Birds of East Asia (now available as as an e-book with embedded calls), birding reports, the latest Taiwan checklist, and Liao Penshing’s photo books.

  1. Book sections.
  2. Known errors.
  3. Page by page.
  4. Better Index.

Book Sections:

Page 1 to 42 are in in Chinese only. Some of you may wish to remove these pages.
Page 2-5. Introductions from the leaders of the Bird Society, Forestry Bureau, main author and artist.
Page 6-7. How to use the book. Right-hand side of p7 has a guide to pronunciation of uncommon words (Chinese speakers may find useful).
Page 8-13. Contents.
Page 14-19. An introduction to birds and classification.
Page 20-23. Avian Topography.
Page 24-43. Family descriptions
Page 44-417. Individual species description and illustration.
Page 418-419. Exotic species.
Page 420-423. Index of Chinese names.
Page 424-433. Index of English and scientific names.
Page 434-439. Index of Japanese names.
Page 440-450. Checklist of Taiwan birds indicating endemic and protected status (in Chinese)
Page 451. References.

Known errors:
(these are the rare exceptions - otherwise very accurate!)
Page 75. The illustration of Short-tailed Albatross is mislabeled as Long-eared Owl.
Page 75. Red-necked Grebe nonbreeding illustration mislabeled as juvenile.
Page 87. Masked Booby ad. nonbreeding should be ad.
Page 116. Correct dimensions for Crested Goshawk should be L 30-46 cm, M 224-450 g, W 54-79 cm.
Page 128. Eurasian Kestrel subspecies should be interstinctus, not linnaeus or innaeus.
Page 155. Terek Sandpiper back black...tbc
Page 185. Buff-breasted Sandpiper flight tail shape seems odd.
Page 279. Bird in the middle should be labeled as Lesser Short-toed Lark.
Page 282. Grey-throated (as opposed to Gray-throated) Martin IS CORRECT...because...I’m British! See also Page 367 Grey-sided Thrush.
Page 295. The two Japanese Bush-warbler subspecies labels should be reversed.
Page 333. Yellow Tit (and Green-backed) is printed too orange.
Page 361. Blue Whistling-Thrush subspecies is correctly spelled caeruleus.
Page 383. Western Yellow Wagtail subspecies plex should read plexa.
Page 401. Black-faced Bunting subspecies should be spelled personala not personata.
Page 411. Illustrated Eurasian Bullfinch is pyrrhula subspecies.
Page 413. The illustration of Japanese Grosbeak is mislabeled as Common Rosefinch.

Page by page notes:
(to illustrations needing more labeling in English)
Unless otherwise mentioned, I’m moving top to bottom, left to right.

P 50. Tundra Swan, Whooper Swan.

P 80. Bulwer’s Petrel, Short-tailed Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Wedge-tailed Shearwater.

P 88. Great Cormorant, Japanese Cormorant.

P 96. Egret, Night Heron, Ibis, Spoonbill, Crane, Crane.

P 102. Pacific Reef-Heron, Little Egret, Chinese Egret, Cattle Egret, Intermediate Egret, Great Egret.

P 110. Osprey (shallow ‘m’), White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Falcon, Crested Serpent-Eagle (shallow ‘v’), Mountain Hawk Eagle, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Eastern Marsh-Harrier and Common Buzzard (deep ‘v’), Black Eagle.

P 128. Eurasian Hobby (top left), Amur Falcon (middle), Peregrine Falcon (bottom left), Merlin (top right), Eurasian Kestrel (bottom right).

P 140. Demoiselle Crane, Common Crane.

P 142. (top, then anti-clockwise) Demoiselle Crane, Hooded Crane, White-naped Crane, Red-crowned Crane, Common Crane.

P 159. Grey-tailed Tattler: white supercilium extending beyond eye. Wandering Tattler: supercilium only in front of eye, contrasts with eyestripe.  

P 160. Common Redshank, Spotted Redshank.

P 196. Laughing Gull, Franklin’s Gull.

P 214. Non breeding plumage: Gull-billed Tern, Common Tern, Little Tern, Whiskered Tern.

P 216. Non-breeding plumage: Black Tern, White-winged Tern, Whiskered Tern.

P 258. Ryukyu Minivet, Ashy Minivet, Brown-rumped Minivet.

P 264. Long-tailed Shrike schach subspecies intermediate and dark morph on Kinmen Islands.

P 280. Skylark, Oriental Skylark.

P289. Bottom left Light-vented Bulbul: Dongyin (a Matsu island) race white bandana small, darker breast.  

P 298. Dusky Warbler: supercilium front white, buff behind, bill fine; Radde’s Warbler: supercilium front broader, rear finer, bill short and thick. Yellow-streaked Warbler: supercilium uniform, bill more pointed and finer than Radde’s.   

P 353. Flying birds are Black Redstart, Daurian Redstart.

P 384. Inset shows median coverts of Richard’s Pipit and Blyth’s Pipit.

Better Index.

A more user friendly index is now available on the Taipei Bird Society’s website here. In excel format - can someone help me reformat this into handy printable version? The section for combined English/Scientific names is under the middle tab.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The new Taiwan Bird Field Guide

First Edition. See my review of the second edition of this book.

The new field guide (in Chinese) for Taiwan birds has just been published. Confident it will be the default guide for any birder here. See details below for purchasing.
Years in the making, sample books were available for inspection at the Taipei Birdfair this past weekend, actual delivery only starts November 7th.  Photos taken with cell-phone - and authors' permission. First impressions:

First thing to emphasize is that the main text is in Chinese (remember 99% of birding done here is by local birders). As well as the painted plates, non-Chinese readers can make use of highlighted key marks and size indicators. Each species and variant is labeled in English. Some foreign birders may still wish to supplement it with Mark Brazil's The Birds of East Asia, Liao Bensing’s rather good photographic books, and the latest checklist. Without having much time to carefully study/use it yet, the artwork seems very good and of a standard meeting, or exceeding, that of international publishers. No other book illustrates the endemics and relevant endemic/resident/visiting subspecies better. Well done to all involved in producing this!

The only fault I found is the clumsy English title - thankfully the focus was on the internal content! Range maps of little use.

Comprehensive coverage of main island and offshore islands (Matsu, Lanyu, Kinmen etc).
637 birds fully illustrated, with another 11 escapees in a condensed double plate.
Satisfactory combined scientific/English name index.
Published by Taipei Wild Bird Society with the Forestry Bureau. ISBN 9789860425550
Field Guide of Wild Bird in Taiwan [sic] Mu-Chi Hsiao (main author), Cheng-Lin Li (artist).
Large pocket size, 680 grams (foreign birders may wish to remove pages in Chinese introducing bird families, taxonomy etc).
Well bound, printed on quality paper etc. Flexible cover, 451 pages.

It is available from Taipei Bird Society and other bird societies for around NT$ 1,200. I am happy to mail it directly worldwide. UK, US, AUS etc US$ 58 (or UK£37); east Asia (Sing, Japan, HK etc) US$ 49. This includes packing, airmail postage (expect arrival within 1 week to the UK), and a useful map of the country. Send payment to PayPal account including your correct address.

To make this book more useful for foreign birders - in a month or so I will prepare a supplement translating key text to tricky species etc. Suggestions welcome.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

2014 Checklist, Calender, & Birdfair

Too, too long since the last post here. A quick catch-up.

1. 2014 Checklist.
2. Events coming soon.
3. Other notes from the British Birdfair.

1. Checklist.
The latest official Taiwan checklist from the local bird federation has been published. 17 new species accepted. Grey-cheeked Fulvetta split. I suspect a couple more, such as the Bamboo Partridge, are on the cusp of also being recognized as full endemics.

2. Upcoming events.
If you know of other details that should be here, please email me.

Kenting Raptor Migration Festival
October 10-12.

Taiwan Field Guide
October. Completely new Chinese-language version published. May be sooner - or later.

Taiwan Birdathon
November 1-2.
Foreign teams warmly welcomed.

Asian Bird Fair
November 29-30. Langkawi, Malaysia.

Taipei Birdfair
October 25-26. Guandu, Taipei City.

Dasyueshan Bird Race
April 24-26, 2015

Raptor Festival
April 2015. Baguashan and Guanyinshan.

3. British Birdfair.
I attended the Birdfair at Rutland last month. Here is a review of some of the messages I was trying to get across.

Other than just birds, birds, birds - Taiwan has:

High biodiversity - over 80 endemic and endemic subspecies. On the East Asian - Australasian flyway.

A diversity of butterflies and dragonflies. Alpine to tropical flora...and all in a compact area.

Good infrastructure - roads, accommodation etc. No visas needed.

Safe - low crime, no* leeches, malaria, dengue or rabies. Clean,good hygiene and healthcare.
*...well effectively none!

Great habitats - extensive well-protected mountain forest and wetlands.

Year-round birding, on good trails or roadside. Excellent scenery and other natural distractions.

People - friendly, conservation-minded, and interested in nature. A twitching scene.

Free, democratic, progressive society with an interesting traditional culture.

Birding/Nature companies visiting Taiwan.
Zoothera Birding
Bird Tour Asia
Legacy Tours
Eagle-eye Tours
Tropical Birding

Other Taiwan Guides.

Mr. Hsu, Yen-Hui
Mr Hung Kuan-Chieh
Mr. Jian, Kuen Dar
Mr. Tsai, Mu-Chi
Mr. Kao, Lin Chu
Mr. Philip Kuo
Mr. Wu, Shumit
Miss Lai, Mei Sho
Natural Kingdom Ms. Chen Chia-en
Wayne Hsu