Two recommendations required

First, allow me to wish you all a happy new year, 2016. Me and Mrs. Dave CH sincerely hope you enjoyed the festive break. Perhaps you were treated, as we were, to an unexpected gift? We watched a male Peregrine hunting off the cliffs overlooking the vineyards on Christmas morning - a long story dating back a year and a half and, perhaps, a good reason to start a blog about bird watching, and bird seeing, here in our Swiss home. We will be in the UK next week and would like to add two books to our library, and need your valuable advice. Mrs. Dave bought a German-language feather atlas at Christmas. We would like to add an English-language reference work to that (German is my aim for 2016, but it's a stretch with the feathers, I'm sure you'll understand). We come across a lot of found feathers while walking, and while holidaying. We're increasingly interested in 'who' they come from. Any suggestions would be most welcome. Second, we watch with the Collins guide (latest edition), and - for raptors (thanks to recommendations given in these forums) - with Forsman's raptor guide. We back the Collins guide up with two or three parallel guides - again recommended in these forums. While the Collins guide is a stupendous feat (to my mind, at least), we've had issues (most recently up in the pre-Alps with Capercaillie) and would like a more comprehensive guide at home to help us with identification. Once again, your collective advice is most appreciated. Best regards - Dave CH
  • Hi Dave, a Happy New Year to you and Mrs Dave. It's been a while since you've been on and sorry no one has replied so far. As usual you've posed some tricky questions and I'm not sure that I can be of much help. Whether anyone else can remains to be seen.

    One of the most useful sources for wildlife books on obscure subjects is NHBS based in Totnes, Devon. I don't know whether they have a store you can visit because most of their sales are online.

    http://www.nhbs.com/

    A quick search revealed only three books.

    www.nhbs.com/.../search;term=feather+identification+of+birds

    I suspect that the third one shown is the German feather atlas that Mrs Dave has already bought.

    The only other one I've found is this one on Amazon, Also in German.

    www.amazon.co.uk/.../ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_i1;pf_rd_s=desktop-1&pf_rd_r=1XSB6CYE0X8WXZEVKCAX&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=577048407&pf_rd_i=desktop.

    Not had much luck with Capercaillie either. The only two books I've found are here one of which is also in German.

    http://www.nhbs.com/browse/search?title-type-facet%5B%5D=&term=Capercaillie

    Hopefully, someone with better knowledge might have suggestions.

    ____________________________________________________________________

    Regards,Tony

    My Flickr Photostream 

  • In reply to TeeJay:

    You have done well TJ & just sorry that I can add nothing more to help!

    But I would like to wish Happy New Year to D & Mrs D & say that I certainly would look forward to reading a blog about your bird sightings in Switzerland & seeing any pics you may have!

     

     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • In reply to WendyBartter:

    Your two field guides are probably as good as it gets for the everyday birder,not sure many of us have feather i.d. books it seems to be something we learn as we go along and maybe by picking feathers up from under roosts.

    Pete

    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • In reply to TeeJay:

    Hi Tony, That's really very, very kind, thank you. Yes, it's been a while. Me and my partner are both of the age when one needs to spend quite a lot of time looking after one's folks. 2015 was that kind of year. You're absolutely right. Book three is Mrs. Dave's book (she was pleased with that). I'll take a chance on the Cieslak and Dul guide and hope they can deliver to the UK next week (family visit). Thanks for the links. Re the second book - I'm really looking for an identification guide for home, which is not a field guide. Kind of a Collins on (good) steroids. Collins is our first port of call for everything. Then, when raptors are involved, we go to Forsman's 'Raptors of the Middle East and Europe' (kindly recommended in these forums by RoyW - thanks again Roy), which gives us a lot more. For me, the Capercaillie is really only an example of where we've found that the Collins guide hits its limits (although it's more likely that it's our limits that were hit, of course). We were up watching the autumn migration on a pre-Alpine route; a place called Wasserscheider in the Gürnigel/Gantrisch region. As previously, we got there around dawn, and - from Collins - identified a pair of Capercaillie; very close, very visible. We were pretty sure that we weren't looking at Black Grouse, having seen a few. As the morning drew on, we were joined by other birders, amongst whom, we learned, was a guy who is quite highly placed in the regional fauna protection hierarchy (nice bloke). If these had been Capercaillie (there, in that spot) our names would have gone down in history. Fortunately for us (not being names-down-in-history types of people) what it seems we were looking at was a pair of Rackelhahn (http://birdhybrids.blogspot.ch/2014/05/eurasian-capercaillie-x-black-grouse.html). Anyway, all that to say that I’m looking for a bigger, deeper, more detailed, home version of the Collins guide (2nd edition). Maybe the answer is to read the Collins guide... but at home? :-) Best regards - Dave (from Switzerland, where the sun is currently rising over the Rackelhahns)
  • In reply to WendyBartter:

    Thank you Wendy, and a Happy New Year back to you.

    I talked to my partner about the blog idea yesterday evening. Her answer? 'You need to work less: it suits you'. So I think that's a vote of confidence.

    I can't promise photos, but Mrs. Dave did buy a Lumix around a year ago. Maybe she'll help out.

    Just need to find the time...

  • In reply to Seaman:

    Hi Seaman,

    I know you're right (in my heart I know you're right).

    I remember a similar comment in response to a post I made about a 'What Birds Where' book and how useful it would be (along the lines of the Royal Horticultural Society's 'What Plants Where [When/etc.]' series).

    Something like, it's just something you pick up along the way.

    At the time, that idea seemed almost arcane. And now, a few years later, I find myself muttering 'Looks like Peregrine country to me...' or proclaiming 'If there isn't a Mistle thrush in there, I'm Sep Blatter!' (which is a huge risk if I'm wrong).

    I thought about the home guide thing again recently when looking at a big guide/coffee table book that Mrs. Dave's team bought her (in French) a few years ago. I flipped it open at Peregrines (because of our Christmas Peregrine adventure; the culmination of eighteen months or so of searching the region). And I realized that, with the exception of one fact, it contained nothing that wasn't either in the Collins guide, in Forsman, or in our heads (from observing, or from other birders). Quite a funny experience for me.

    Best regards -

    Dave

  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    I think the book from NHBS would fulfill your needs and there does not seem to be a great many books on the subject,as for field guides I am one of those who thinks you can never have too many decent ones.I still have my original 1954 Peterson field guide that cost me a full apprentices wages but as good as it was in its day I would not like to rely on it today.

    I'm not certain about the legality of possession of feathers from certain birds maybe someone better informed knows.

    Pete

    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • In reply to Seaman:

    Thanks again Seaman. We will pick up a copy of the feather guide. I've also come across references to the legality of possessing found feathers (in different countries, but not - yet - here in Switzerland). As we're members of various groups here (Bern ALA, Nos Oiseaux, Vogelwarte Sempach...) we shall enquire. Dave
  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    Interesting blog about the Rackelhahn, Dave. I had no idea that there was a Capercaillie x Black Grouse hybrid. I came across this YouTube video of an aggressive Rackelhahn although to my non-expert eyes it looks just like a Black Grouse.

    https://youtu.be/3i0iDG6T8tE

    It reminded me of a Willow Grouse that we encountered on a trip to Finland. The bird was so pumped up with testosterone that it was determined to see us off. Made for good photo opportunities though.

    I did find another book in the Helm identification series also on the NHBS site. I suspect it's a bit of overkill for what you want as it seems to cover Game birds from all over the world.

    www.nhbs.com/.../pheasants-partridges-and-grouse;ca_id=1495&gclid=CjwKEAiAk7O0BRD9_Ka2w_PhwSkSJAAmKswx1VMQU0KjYbhovkNXVpNa_IlKyczQmmubfyGkNPZ6zxoCFl7w_wcB

    I don't know if you are into tablets but the Collins Birguide is available for an iPad. I'm not sure whether it contains any additional information over and above the book but it seems to offer search facilities and side by side comparisons. For a little extra you can also add videos.

    collinsbirdguideapp.com

    I'm hoping they might produce a version for Android (my tablet) in which case I would probably download a copy.

    ____________________________________________________________________

    Regards,Tony

    My Flickr Photostream 

  • In reply to TeeJay:

    Hi TeeJay, Re the Rackelhahn, what a video! And that, to me (with my eyes far less expert than yours) looks like a Black Grouse too. Or, it looks like the Black Grouse in my Collins guide, and thus like birds that I've seen and (using the Collins guide) identified as Black Grouse. What we saw up in the pre-Alps looked, basically, like the Capercaillie, as depicted in the Collins guide. We watched from around 30 meters away with *very* good optics, and saw the pair low in a pine, and on the ground. The female had the unbarred throat and upper breast and thicker neck. The male, very clearly had only what appeared to be a red upper 'eyelid', and - again very clearly - the wing colour depicted in the Collins guide. We were sure. But, were told, not. Had it been they, it would have been the first time they had been sighted there in a gazillion years (or so we were told). We don't care of course because, at the end of the day, they were just a gorgeous couple. I bought Mrs. Dave the RSPB app for Android for Christmas. We're both Android device users, so no Collins for us (yet). I did come across a video purportedly showing the app for iPhone running on some form of Galaxy S, but then I've seen videos purportedly showing that the moon landing was shot on a Hollywood sound stage and that Elvis is (was) alive and well in an retirement home in the US, having signed a contract with a body double and lost the contract in a freak barbecuing accident. So I try to be careful with videos. That, by the way, is a very nice photo. I'm yet to be seen off by a bird (proof of my own limited experience). But I see chamois on my daily walks, and when the young ones are around, there's more than a hint of "Thou shalt not pass". The first time I tried it, I - after watching for five minutes or so - thought, "It's time to go home now", and walked forward with my arms spread wide, talking. No chance. The male just stood his ground, blew down his nose and stamped. I took a different route home. Dave