This 56-minute DVD has been produced by local birder Steve Seal and is only available from him (ordering details are below). Some 40 species are shown, mostly in Warwickshire, with an Arctic Tern from Staffordshire and a few rarities from elsewhere in England and Wales (for the scientific names of these birds, and their local status, see our county lists).
The commentary, by Bob Duckhouse, is excellent — factual and interesting, but not intrusive. It would be good to have heard more from him, especially during quieter periods when there is no background ambience, or when the soundtrack includes the muffled conversation of other birders.
The best shots are those of confiding birds, when the camera can get in close — the Pectoral Sandpiper, for instance, and the Turnstone, are both superb. The benfit of filmng in good light is also readily apparent, as when comparing the beautiful sunlit Red-backed Shrike with the drab, colourless Red Pochard, filmed on a much duller day.
There are a couple of niggles, chiefly that the 40 film clips are presented as one track on the DVD, so it is not possible to jump immediately to the desired species. Instead, it's necessary to scan through the whole thing. It doesn't help that the track list does not indicate the start time of the clips — we've listed these below, for your convenience. There is wind noise on some of the recordings (e.g. the Waxwings) and some of the clips show an excess of colour aberration (e.g. the Jack Snipe, with its typical bobbing motion).
It would also have been nice to have some wider shots, to set the scene. For instance, during the scenes at Draycote Reservoir, where so little water is seen, it feels as though the birds could have been filmed on a local canal. A few shots of the general surroundings, perhaps then zooming in on the bird, or after zooming away from it, would give some sense of place.
The use of freeze-frame would be useful, too, for instance in comparing the bellies of Short-eared Owl and Long-eared Owl, as advised in the commentary — though one can always pause one's own DVD player, and the daylight flight shots of both species are most enjoyable, and still afford good comparisons for ID purposes.
These, though, are minor quibbles when one considers the quality of the majority of the filming and the price, which would be worth paying for a souvenir even if you only saw one of the featured birds; it is a bargain for the full collection, even if you “dipped” on all of them.
|Species||Location||Approx. start time (mins:secs)|
|(Tristis) Chiffchaff||Hams Hall||1:53|
|Glaucous Gull||Lawford Heath||13:34|
|Red-backed Shrike||Easington (East Yorks)||36:12|
|White-rumped Sandpiper||Grafham (Cambs)||38:56|
|Great Northern Diver||Draycote||44:43|
|Arctic Tern||Chasewater (Staffs)||50:15|
|Sooty Tern||Cemlyn Bay (Anglesey)||51:41|
|Green Heron||Pentraeth (Anglesey)||53:28|
Please remember that opinions expressed are those of the individual reviewer, and not necessarily the West Midland Bird Club.
Update: A 2006 edition is also available.
Ornithology in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands county, since 1929.
Fetched fromon Wednesday 22 May 2013 02:45:30
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