Working for birds in Africa

Oiseaux de Libye / Birds of Libya

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 13:16 -- abc_admin
Birds of Libya
Paul Isenmann, Jens Hering, Stefan Brehme, Mohamed Essghaier, Khaled Etayeb, Essam Bourass and Hichem Azafzaf, 2016. Paris: Société d’Études Ornithologiques de France. 304 pp, 113 photographs, 35 distribution maps. Softback. ISBN 978-2-916802- 04-5. €38 + postage. Available from MNHN / SEOF, Case postale 51, 55 rue Buffon, F-75231 Paris Cedex 05, France. E-mail: seof@mnhn.fr
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Publications about Libyan birds do not turn up very often, making the appearance of this handsome book most welcome. Written in French and English, Birds of Libya is an annotated checklist of the 351 bird species recorded in Libya (of which 100 are currently breeding). It is the product of cooperation between ornithologists from Libya, France, Germany and Tunisia, and is the first checklist for the country since Bundy’s much slimmer 1976 publication, now long out of print and out of date—the latter covered only 317 species. The format is familiar, as this is the fourth in a series of North African checklists, all published by SEOF and all under the senior authorship of Paul Isenmann. The previous volumes covered Algeria (2000), Tunisia (2005) and Mauritania (2010). This new checklist starts with several well-illustrated chapters covering geography and climate, a history of ornithology in Libya, biogeographical analysis of the country’s breeding birds, bird migration in Libya, and a short essay on the somewhat uneasy relationships between birds and man in a country with an uncertain political future. The bulk of the book comprises the annotated checklist. For each species, the accounts provide data on status, distribution, habitat and breeding. All records are listed for vagrants and rarer species, while breeding species and regular passage migrants merit longer entries which include, where relevant, nesting data and information on passage and wintering patterns in Libya. These accounts are fully referenced and include many unpublished data from the authors. Like other volumes in the series, Birds of Libya is generously illustrated with many colour photographs arranged in several short sections rather than scattered throughout the text. The quality of the photographs and their superb reproduction has been a feature of this mini-series of checklists. This present volume does not disappoint, although I did not care for a couple of images that had been inelegantly manipulated to include two or three different birds in a single frame. Maps are provided for just 34 of the breeding species. These are useful, but I would like to have seen maps for all of the breeding species, and perhaps regular migrants too. However, Libya is not a frequently visited country, so presumably the available information was too incomplete to produce meaningful maps for every species. Unfortunately, the maps are located within the photo sections rather than in the species accounts, but they are cross-referenced. This is a very welcome addition to the ornithological literature of North Africa, and is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the region

Nigel Redman

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