British Birds Video Guide
Over the years, BirdGuides has collected hundreds of hours of footage, and many readers will already have bought similar videos from the company in the past. However, Dave Gosney and Max Whitby have not rested on their laurels. They have filmed substantial new material on new high-definition cameras, and by incorporating work from a further 25 contributors, this new guide is much improved and runs for more than 16 hours.
I chose to test the product on my computer, but most people will want to enjoy it on their TV. That said, if you are a gadget enthusiast you can order versions that work on an iPod or iPhone.
Some 270 species are allocated to 40 sections such as divers and grebes, while large families such as waders are covered in up to five groupings. The four DVDs run through the traditional systematic list, starting with divers and ending with crows. It all makes a lot of sense, although Parrot and Scottish Crossbills have been listed in two sections despite only appearing once.
If you travel around Britain and Ireland, then just about everything you’d hope to see in a typical birding year is here, and the only semi-regular breeding bird to be left out is Savi’s Warbler, which is a shame. Vagrants are not featured, although some of the rarer visitors to Britain such as Pectoral Sandpiper, Richard’s Pipit, Icterine Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler and Pallas’s Warbler are included. In future editions I would recommend the inclusion of Tawny Pipit, Melodious Warbler and Caspian Gull as well.
The selected footage shows scenes with the typical plumages you can expect to see, and where appropriate there are still images of other plumages. British, Irish and European distribution maps are also included and are very up to date. Each species is on the screen for at least three minutes, and Dave Gosney’s narration is clear, steady and precise, giving a summary of everything you need to know on behaviour, typical habitats, songs and calls.
The original soundtracks from the footage have been included, and while that gives you plenty of atmosphere, it does mean that you get quite a bit of ambient noise and wind rumble – another thing to reconsider for future versions.
Once again BirdGuides has come up with a superb product that will advance the knowledge and identification skills of thousands of birdwatchers. Easy to use, full of useful footage and backed up by a highly relevant commentary, this is an excellent production. (There is also a concise edition available with just 130 species in eight hours of footage, costing £23.95.)
At over 16 hours in length this really is a big production, and is undoubtedly a great DVD. The price per species is rather high when compared to a similar, less-detailed production by Paul Doherty of Bird Images, whose concise five-hour three-DVD set gives you a similar 270 species at a price of £22.95.
- British Birds Video Guide narrated by Dave Gosney (BirdGuides, 2008).
- Four DVDs with more than 16 hours of playback.