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.