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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for serious birders
If you are serious about birding and want to step up your game to the next level in identifying and watching waterbirds, you must consider this book. Unlike the more familiar Peterson's guides with their gorgeous bird portraits, The seawatching guide uses more than 900 photographs to assist birders in identifying birds along the eastern seaboard.

I am not a big...
Published 18 months ago by Amy Goebel Padgett

versus
10 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very detailed, not for amateurs
First off, this book is a field guide to Seawatching - this includes migratory waterbirds of the Eastern US, including lake, river, and sea birds - but note that only migratory birds are considered. The really, really uncommon birds are also omitted - according to the authors, if you see one of these omitted birds, knowing what's in the book "helps you pick out the...
Published 17 months ago by K. Bortz


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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for serious birders, August 6, 2013
This review is from: Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight (Peterson Reference Guides) (Hardcover)
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If you are serious about birding and want to step up your game to the next level in identifying and watching waterbirds, you must consider this book. Unlike the more familiar Peterson's guides with their gorgeous bird portraits, The seawatching guide uses more than 900 photographs to assist birders in identifying birds along the eastern seaboard.

I am not a big fan of photographs when trying to learn to identify birds and always felt that Peterson's highly color-saturated drawings provided the best, bar-none portraits that clearly showed the features a birder needed to pay attention to in order to identify species. But the purpose of the seawtching guide is slightly different and I believe the photos are the best choice in this case.

Photographs, just like watching birds in "real life" show the lighting and often difficult conditions one faces, particularly when trying to identify birds that are not very close. The point of this guide and photos is to help birders learn the techniques advanced birders use to spot the "anomalies" in a flock of birds and identify what that anomaly is. Drawings would not be as useful as the photos and two main kinds of photos are used: portraits and flock photos.

For example, let's say you are at the shore and you see a flock of Scoters migrating, but something tells you they may not all be Surf Scoters. The book shows a panoramic photo of a flock of Scoters that includes Surf and Black Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, a Bufflehead, and a Hooded Merganser. The text then points out what to look for to identify the "strange birds" in the flock and the photo presents what is essentially the same view and conditions you would face in the field.

This helps you learn the techniques to spot the silhouette differences (e.g. does this one have a rounder head or longer neck than the others?) when looking at a flock or string of birds in flight.

The book covers the following waterbird families (this is from the book)
Anatidae - 44 species (swans, geese, ducks)
Phalacrocoracidae - 3 species (comorants)
Anhingidae - 1 specie (anhinga)
Gaviidae - 3 species (loons)
Podicipedidae - 2 species (grebes)
Alcidae - 6 species (alcids)
Procellariidae - 7 species (shearwaters and petrels)
Hydrobatidae - 3 species (storm-petrels)
Fregatidae - 1 specie (frigatebird)
Sulidae - 3 species (gannets and boobies)
Pelecanidae - 2 species (pelicans)
Stercorariidae - 5 species (skuas and jaegers)
Laridae - 18 species (gulls)
Rynchoptidae - 1 species (Black Skimmer)
Sternidae - 13 species (terns)

Note that this is not a field guide to ALL the species, it is intended as a way to provide much more information and build skills for birdwatching along the eastern seaboard of the U.S.

The depth of information is extraordinary and extremely helpful. There is information on seasonal arrivals of birds, along with very in depth information about the species included the book. There are extensive range maps and even quizzes intended to build skills when looking at a string of flying birds and identifying the "anomalies." For example, on the Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii) there are extensive descriptions about the appearance, silhouette, flight/flocking habits, dates of arrival, similar species and subspecies. There are a LOT of photos, on an average two-page "spread" when looking at the book, you may see four photos plus a range map. One of the photo is a portrait, one a flock relatively close up, another is a large flock in the distance with silhouette information and then there is another flock in "mid range" talking again about identifying points. It is the next best thing to standing at the shore with an expert at your side, describing how to pinpoint the identifying characteristics in the birds you are seeing.

It is unbelievable how much info is packed into this book (610 pages or so). And one thing I really liked was a section near the back that described specific places like the Outer Banks of North Carolina (where I bird a lot) with extensive information about the birds you can see there and when. They included 47 spots all up and down the seaboard and I found it incredibly useful. It really helps me to plan trips (when the best dates would be and the best places).

Honestly, this is a huge, thick book, but there is so much great information in it that I'm afraid I'm not giving it justice. Needless to say, while this may not be the best book for an "Intro to Bird Watching," it is a FANTASTIC resource for those interested in birds they may see along the coast. I highly recommend it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Reference Whose Use Extends Well Beyond the Coasts, September 17, 2013
This review is from: Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight (Peterson Reference Guides) (Hardcover)
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There are lots of specialty birding references and some end up standing heads and shoulders above the crowds. This book is one of those. Years ago I first read Hawks in Flight: The Flight Identification of North American Migrant Raptors by Pete Dunn and I felt like I was being given the secrets of the inner circle of hawk watchers. It conveyed a life time of tips and tricks in a digestible way that noticeably improved my hawk identification.

I found this book very similar. Although Seawatching is a very narrow activity, the information in this book goes well beyond the act of straining your eyes through a scope and trying to picking out distant migrating birds between the waves. This book obviously also lends itself well to pelagic trips and actually is not on the top of my list of pelagic references if for no other reason than it is packed with reference photos and complete enough for species comparisons.

I live in Minnesota and this is still a great resource for me. Each fall we get a number of jaegers on the south side of Lake Superior and the odd accidental. This book is perfect for that trip. Also it is a great reference for ducks and gulls that can be used throughout the country. Although I think I will keep a couple of specific gull references in my car library for that demanding group. But this book is definitely going into the car library.

Also included in the book is some seawatching information. Perhaps the best of which is the list of sea watching locations at the end of the book. Also there is a quiz.

But the gold of this book is the pile of identification information from sea watch experts. Unfortunately it seems more of a standard reference. I would have loved to have a book like Dunne's that seems to share their hard won knowledge. This one seems a little more generic in information, but it is still very solid. Perhaps the best praise I can give it is that it's in my car reference library and it has been pulled out and used as a reference. It's doing its job.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lives up to the Peterson Standard, August 4, 2013
By 
Spudman (Pasadena, MD United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight (Peterson Reference Guides) (Hardcover)
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Having purchased at least three Peterson bird volumes previously, I had high hopes for this Peterson reference guide to seawatching eastern waterbirds. The previous Peterson books proved to be authoritative, fact rich, and bursting with excellent photographs. This latest Peterson guide lives up to expectations.

Those who enjoy watching and identifying seabirds, especially on the East Coast, should find this book interesting if not invaluable. Photographs show numerous birds in flight, individually or in in groups. In some "adjusted" photos the reader will observe similar birds in juxtaposition to help distinguish between similar birds by noting the physical characteristics and the size. Occasionally the authors will challenge the reader with a quiz question connected to a photograph. The questions test the reader's skill in identifying specific birds correctly. The answers to the quiz questions are in the back of the book.

Each bird is described in great detail with information about physical characteristics, relative size, structure, overall coloration, migration timing, flight lines, associations, behavior, plumage details, and voice. Also included is differentiation between genders and between adult and immature birds.
In addition every bird entry is accompanied by a map that shows the range and travel patterns of the birds. Though the book concentrates on eastern waterbirds, some of their ranges reach into Canada, the Great Lakes, and the gulf region between Florida and Texas.

In the back of the book is an annotated map and list of 47 seabird watch sites. Information is given about each watch site including the species of birds most likely seen there. As a frequent traveler to Cape May, NJ, a major bird watching destination, I'm disappointed that Cape May doesn't have a more prominent role in this book, especially since the authors both cut their bird watching teeth in Cape May. The book does feature plenty of photos taken in New Jersey, however, while Avalon, NJ, and Delaware Bay gain mention in the list of noted bird watching sites.

Bottom line - Peterson Seawatching is a big book exploding with information and photographs. My proof copy for review contains only black and white photographs, and yet I'm still impressed by the exquisite captures of these birds. I can only imagine how spectacular the published version resplendent with color will be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tome on seawatching for serious seawatchers, August 5, 2013
This review is from: Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight (Peterson Reference Guides) (Hardcover)
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Don't think by my title that I feel myself a serious seawatcher, on the contrary, I felt woefully inexpert in anything to do with birds after perusing the advanced readers' copy of Eastern Waterbirds in Flight. I had 2 orno classes, but they focused mostly on sound, so I didn't practice silhouettes, a strong component of this book. It is an incredible reference for those who count and also for those who like to watch seabirds on the weekends for fun.

Besides the typical reference with photos and descriptions, a map of eastern North America with numbers and corresponding descriptions of those excellent places to watch is very helpful. I found an unknown (to me, at least) hotspot near me (by an hour or so) that looks promising, and it also discussed the different gulls of the Niagara River, which I enjoy visiting. This map created by word-of-mouth among birders is the real gold of the book.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The final product will be breathtaking! Brilliant work., August 3, 2013
By 
Quickbeam (Oconomowoc, WI USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight (Peterson Reference Guides) (Hardcover)
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The scope of this new book far outweighs the title. It covers migratory birds that have even a general connection to water bodies from
Canada to the Keys. As amateur birders in the Great Lakes area, we are delighted with how much useful ground is covered by this volume.

The text for each bird is tremendously comprehensive as to flight path, color, body shape and flocking pattern. I doubt ornithology texts are as comprehensive. The book is extraordinary useful and thorough based on text alone.

I have not seen the final edition with full color photography but I can say that the very large # of photos provided are birds in flight from
multiple angles. These should prove invaluable to the birder in the field. The one drawback might be the size and weight of this book. It is 10"x7" and weighs a couple pounds.

I also do not have the advantage of the final copy's index; that will be a real asset to quickly navigating this book. I hope the title does not limit interest in this book to East Coast birders. There is plenty here for anyone along mid-American and Canadian flyways.

I am excited about purchasing the final edition of this book and heartily recommend it to anyone interested in waterbirds, fresh water or ocean going.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 602 Pages of waterbird glory in a very textbook-like format, February 12, 2014
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This review is from: Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight (Peterson Reference Guides) (Hardcover)
First of all, the Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching/Eastern Waterbirds in Flight is a great value. The book covers 112 species of birds waterbirds with an eastern North America distribution. Waterbirds are basically birds that can be seen regularly swimming or floating on the water's surfaces such as waterfowl, gulls, cormorants, terns, shearwaters, etc. Unlike Roger Tory Peterson's original concept of using paintings as illustrations, this book is done entirely with photographs. However, each photograph is well done. All photographs are of birds in flight, usually flying next to similar species which really helps highlight the difference in profile, size and flight patterns.

The species accounts cover indentification and range including maps. There is little information given to biology of the covered species.

Without trying to sound corny, the book really is a work of art.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely useful!, December 9, 2013
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This review is from: Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight (Peterson Reference Guides) (Hardcover)
This book has already been useful to us as we do lake watches along Lake Erie. The photos of large and distant groups of birds is so often what we see and need so much practice at identifying. While not a field guide, I have been putting it in a bag and taking it along on each trip to the lake.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Cutting Edge Guide, October 14, 2013
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This review is from: Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight (Peterson Reference Guides) (Hardcover)
Well-written, beautifully photographed book of all the seabirds expected in the Eastern US. Great descriptions of the places where these are best seen as well. A must have for birders of all experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking & extremely helpful, October 8, 2013
This review is from: Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight (Peterson Reference Guides) (Hardcover)
This book would be worth owning for the photos alone--exquisite images, mostly of birds in flight, many up close, meaning that the photos are ideal for identification purposes, yet they are also a joy simply for the birds' beautiful forms and patterns. The entries on each species vary in length, but all the examples I've read so far offer exactly the kind of descriptions and comparisons and behavioral notes you'd want. Thoughtfully conceived and beautifully carried out--this is a top-notch waterbird reference.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Guide to Waterbirds, August 8, 2013
This review is from: Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight (Peterson Reference Guides) (Hardcover)
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I am an intermediate birder. So, I rely on every helpful field guide and reference book to determine correct identification. "Seawatching" is a great addition to my collection.

For me, pelagics and waterbirds are difficult because they are often in flight, and also far away. I am in awe of the experienced birders who can point to a speck in the sky and say, "There's a Wood Duck." There is no way that I'm at that level now, but, one can aspire.

The Peterson "Reference Guide to Seawatching, Eastern Waterbirds in Flight" will be a valuable resource for upcoming trips to Bombay Hook and Cape May. Note: This advance reading copy has black and white rather than color photos and lacks the index. It is still a work in progress. However, assuming that the color photos are up to the Peterson standard of excellence, this should be a valuable reference.

"Seawatching" is more than 600 pages with 900 color photos - much too large to be a field guide. Like Crossley, I plan to have it in the car as a reference, not to carry it while birding. The best use of this reference to read relevant sections in preparation for a coastal trip.

Similar to The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds (The Crossley ID Guides)," "Seawatching" has many photos of birds in various positions. It includes birds in flock formations as well as individual birds in stages of flight. There are even realistic photos of faraway flocks looking like specks in the sky.

For additional training, "Seawatching" includes some quiz photos scattered among the others. For example, in the dabbling duck section, there is a photo of a diverse flock. We are asked to use the described process to break down the mixed flock and identify all four species of ducks in the photo. The text describes a seven-step process to break down a flock of dabbling ducks in flight. That's a real challenge!

Descriptions include migration date and maps. "Eastern Waterbirds in Flight" also has Pacific birds due to their appearance during migration. The description of a bird is not precise because you are viewing birds in flight. For instance, a Royal Tern "gives an athletic impression, long and lean but unmistakably powerful." Each bird has several photos at various distances and in various phases of development. An important addition is the section on similar species at the end of each bird chapter.

For those who travel to bird the last section of "Seawatching" is a list of 47 places to see waterbirds with the best times for viewing and single-day high counts for the top ten species.

If you are going to the effort and expense to view waterbirds or live in a wonderful waterbird viewing area like Cape May, you should definitely invest in this book. The photos alone should justify the cost.
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Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight (Peterson Reference Guides)
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