Top positive review
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A Very Good Bird Guide, Though Slightly Dated
on July 29, 2015
This was the field guide I used for a short birding visit to Kenya, July 2015. I was relatively inexperienced with this avifauna, but I was able to identify just about all the birds I encountered, with the help of this book--and that of a superb local expert, Brian Finch. Without Mr. Finch, my birding partner and I would have spent much more time paging through our field guides. My friend had a copy of Stevenson and Fanshawe. It was helpful to have two books on hand, but I much preferred the Zimmerman book, since it covers only Kenya and a tiny slice of Tanzania, rather than East Africa in its entirety. Excellent as it is, the Zimmerman book does suffer from one shortcoming. Not having the range maps on the same page as the picture and text is a nuisance. I made up for that by marking up the book in pencil before the trip; I drew a little box beside the name of any of the species expected in the area where I planned to bird on this trip. Thus I would not waste time in the field looking at species from areas away from Nairobi. The pictures on the plates are numbered, rather than having the bird's name next to each picture; I pencilled in the names of all the likely species right next to their pictures, so that I would not waste time trying to figure out what bird was depicted on Plate 84, "5b." Since this book is now over 15 years old, I also found it useful to update the names of the birds. This is something I do before any international trip anyway, but in this case, there were many, many name changes to pencil in here and there. For example, that "5b" on Plate 84 is no longer the Common Fiscal--it is the Northern Fiscal. New visitors to Kenya might find it confusing to use this book if they have not boned up on the taxonomy before the trip, since so many splits and renamings have occurred. All in all, I found this to be a very good bird book, albeit one dating from a previous generation in the evolving history of birding field guides. In my opinion, all new birding field guides, and all subsequent revisions of existing ones, should follow the best possible format. That format has existed since the 1960's, when it appeared, I believe, in the old Chandler S. Robbins "Golden Guide" for North America. This format is used in the Sibley field guides, as well as in the wonderful Mullarney et al. The text and map for a given species should be on the left of the spread, with the pictures on the right. The name of each bird should be printed next to the picture. Period.