Challenge Series: Winter

Martin Garner
Publisher:  Birding Frontiers
Page Count:  132
ISBN Number:  9780992975715

Winter can seem never-ending, waiting for spring migration, unless - like me, gulls are your ‘thing’. The Winter volume in the Challenge Series may just be the inspiration needed to push us out into the cold! This book is ideal for birders who enjoy an identification challenge, discovering new things and trying to work out where exactly some of our winter visitors may have come from – those wanting to get into the ‘nitty-gritty’ of bird ID.

The book contains a variety of identification challenges, from five taxa of Eider through to six varieties of Redpoll…where will it end? All are covered in bite-sized chunks; the layout is incredibly well arranged, making tricky ID features, descriptions of races, their locations and current taxonomy very easy to digest. The author writes in a simple, chatty manner that makes the book a pleasure to read. The photos are really useful, as are the maps, and Ray Scally’s cover artwork looks great, the design and feel of the book very attractive. The QR codes are surely welcomed by many, but I still have slight reservations it may exclude some, less ‘with it’ readers, from what I am sure is an incredibly valuable resource. Would a website URL and written code/log in not have worked? Back to the positives: the sonograms are so revealing; a fascinating feature!

This book makes you think. It’s designed to test and challenge bird identification – it is not ‘set in stone’; it encourages birders to look harder and discover more. And the author has managed this in an easily digestible, open-minded way. It’s on my wish list, along with Autumn, the first in the series. 

Sarah Harris