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Gulls of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East (cover)

Publisher: Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford

Publication Year: 2021

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 320

ISBN Number: 9780691222837

Price: £ 29.99

Gulls of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East: An Identification Guide

Although I do not condone it, I (somewhat) understand why non-birdy people often refer to all gulls as ‘seagulls’. Until you get your eye in, some species do look similar to one another. This statement may be controversial, but it is safer to say that even for more experienced birders, gulls can be tricky. This is especially true when identifying juveniles. The authors of Gulls of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East: An Identification Guide aimed to tackle this problem by creating an updated resource which allows learners to hone their skills.

The result is a beautiful book that will both satisfy and create gull-lovers. Containing 45 species (including some hybrids) from across the ‘wider Western Palearctic’ the book is remarkably comprehensive. Each species is afforded multiple pages, divided by adult, first, second and third cycle forms. This maximises your chances of identifying a bird, no matter when in its life you happen to spot it. Through the use of 1,400 high-quality images, the book provides guidance on how to delve deeper into minutiae of species identification. The labelling focuses on subtle characteristics such as fine-scale plumage detail and eye colour, which may be key indicators when distinguishing between look-alikes. One particularly handy tool is the ‘similar species’ box, which directly compares each species with an illustrated list of similar gulls, thereby helping learners avoid common mistakes.

I would not gift this book to a beginner. Its technicality might be unhelpful or intimidating for those just starting out. It is, however, perfect for two groups of people: those who are interested in becoming an expert in bird identification and those who love gulls. The former group will find a book crammed with good advice, while the latter will rejoice to see their favourite birds displayed in such a rich format. 

Book reviewed by Fionnuala McCully

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