Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guia de Aves del Estrecho de Gibraltar

Guia de Aves del Estrecho de Gibraltar
Parque Natural "Los Alcornocales" y Comarca de "La Janda"
by  Cardona, David Barros and David Rios Esteban
2008, 328pp, ISBN: 8460745457
Basics:  softcover, 115 color plates of all 350+ species, monthly migration charts, maps, text on status, identification, and movements, Spanish and English

This book is a melding of an identification guide and of a migrational data reference. There is probably no better geographic and migrational area that warrants such a book as does the Strait of Gibraltar. This book has three key components: plates, identification text, and migration data.
First, the 115 color plates illustrate all 350+ species that have been recorded either passing through or residing in the region. Most of the birds receive multiple illustrations to depict plumage variations. The artistry is good, but still a notch below the European guides by Mullarney or by Johnsson. Depending on your skill level with some of the migrating warblers, you may want to supplement this Gibraltar guide with one of the above mentioned ID guides.
The one paragraph of text given for each bird, in both Spanish and English, covers status, identification, and movements. The status reviews the seasonal presence of the bird along with its frequency. The identification material, ranging from 1-3 sentences, is brief but effective. In conjunction with the plates, the material will help identify all but the more difficult of species. The section on movements addresses which weeks or months a bird is expected to arrive or depart during its migration.
Helping to define this field guide as unique, the are three types of graphics inserted directly onto the plates and the text pages.  These provide information for many of the birds' distribution, seasonal presence, and monthly frequency.  The style of map used is typically seen in a breeding atlas.  Using a grid over a map of the region, each block of the map is specifically colored to represent one of three statuses:  Resident, summer breeder, or winter visitor.  Accompanying this map is a horizontal bar representing the 12 months of the year.  Each month is colored to denote the seasonal presence of the bird. Lastly, a bar-chart is provided for many of the birds to display the intensity or count of birds seen each month.
The first 60 pages of the book provide useful information on ringing/banding, key migration points, 38 photos of habitats, and migration maps. These maps help to pinpoint key spots and routes of migration.
If you plan on birding this notable migration route in Europe, you'll definitely want to take this book with you. The plates and the information provided within make it both useful and valuable.