Review: Field guide to the birds of Colombia

As regular readers woud know I do regular reviews of books here on my writing site. Every writer should be an avid reader, and I enjoy sharing what I am reading with regular visitors to this site.

This time the review is a little different. Normally I would review books about writing, novels I’ve read or volumes of poetry. I have also reviewed children’s books, including picture books on occasions. (Click here to read more of my reviews.)

This review focusses on a Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia. As my long term readers would know, I also write articles about and post photos of Australian Birds on Trevor’s Birding site. I’m not going to write a new review of this book here. If you are interested in reading this review, click here.

Why Colombia?

This book was given as a special gift to a close family member who has close connections with Colombia. One day I hope to get to that fascinating country and do some birding. Of all the countries in the world, Colombia has more bird species than any other, with nearly 1800 different kinds. By way of comparison, Australia has about 800 different birds.

Poem #43 Wedge-tailed Eagle

Wedge-tailed Eagle

Wedge-tailed Eagle

How awesome
To soar over mountains and valleys,
To rise majestically
On thermal currents
Transported effortlessly
Over a patchwork quilt

© 2011 Trevor Hampel

All rights reserved.

To read more of my poetry click here.

The Wedge-tailed eagle is Australia’s largest bird of prey with a wingspan of up to 2.8m (about 10 feet). They are found all over Australia where suitable habitat exists. You can read more about Australian birds on my site Trevor’s Birding.

Wedge-tailed Eagle

Book review: new edition of a popular bird field guide

Simpson and Day Field Guide to the Birds of Australia 8th edition

Simpson and Day Field Guide to the Birds of Australia 8th edition

Many of my readers here possibly do not know that I am a passionate birder. In fact, I write a very popular birding blog called Trevor’s Birding (click here). It is one of the most popular of its type with many hundreds of daily visitors. Heaps of photos too.

One of the essential tools of every birder (bird watcher) is a reliable field guide. These books illustrate each of the bird species found in a particular country or region. I have about 10 such books covering Australia, south east Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Europe.

In Australia we are blessed with a number of great field guides. With over 500,000 copies sold since the first edition in 1984, the Simpson and Day Field Guide to the Birds of Australia has proved to be one of the successful guides. Today sees the publication of a new, fully revised and updated 8th edition.

I’ve written an extensive review of this guide on my birding blog here.

The guide has been published by Penguin Books Australia.

What I am reading

I’m a little slow about writing about this book.

I bought it about last October but kept it unread for a treat over the Christmas – New Year holidays. It has been a while since I bought a new novel to read just for pleasure. It’s something every writer should be doing regularly. Enough of my failings.

This is what I read: A Guide to the Birds of East Africa:a novel by Australian author Nicholas Drayson.

A first glance at the title and one could be forgiven for thinking it is only about birds. Well, it isn’t. Not entirely. At heart it is a romance, a mystery, an adventure and a rollicking good read. And you incidentally learn about the birds of East Africa as a bonus.

Mr. Malik is a quiet, reserved and thoroughly likable¬† gentleman with a secret passion. Not even the members of his club know that he is totally in love with the leader of the Tuesday morning bird walk of the East African Ornithological Society,¬† Rose Mbikwa. Rose’s politician husband had died in mysterious circumstance many years previously.

Mr. Malik has a problem; he desires to invite Rose to the annual Hunt Ball but flashy Harry Khan arrives in town in time to spoil his plans. Mr. Malik and Harry have a distant and not so happy past from their school days. When Harry indicates that he was going to invite Rose to the ball, mild Mr. Malik blurts out his feelings for her. So a club wager was set – whoever could see the most birds in a week would have the right to ask Rose to the ball.

The chase is on and the adventure begins. Intrigue, mystery, excitement (yes – birders do get excited) misunderstanding and a heinous crime all add spice to the chase.

A thoroughly good read.

Highly recommended.


Drayson, N, 2008, A Guide to the Birds of east Africa: a novel. London, Viking.

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa: a novel

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa: a novel

Poem #14 Bird Chorus at Lake Hattah

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Bird Chorus at Lake Hattah

Australian Ravens
Mournfully winging their way
Across the parched land.

Noisy Miners
Shrieking their way
From tree to tree.

Galahs painting
Pink lines
Across an azure sky.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoos
Raucously piercing the morning air
With alarm calls.

Dusky Woodswallows
Twittering their chorus
High above.

Regent Parrots
Streaking the sky
With arrows of gold.

Laughing their way
In a new dawn chorus.

Mallee Ringnecks
Clinking the treetops
With bell like calls overhead.

White Winged Choughs
Strutting on parade, squabbling
As they inspect each campsite.

Drowsy campers
Stirring in their sleeping bags.
No need for an alarm clock!

All rights reserved.

Copyright 2006 Trevor W. Hampel.

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Updated and edited November 2013

Noisy Miner

Noisy Miner