Books for Nature Lovers
Spotters Guide - Birds of the Lowveld
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Review By: Environmental Management - May/June 2011

Bird watching is one of the fasters growing pastimes in the world and the Lowveld of SA is home to the world-renowned Kruger National Park with its exceptionally rich birdlife. The Lowveld region as defined for this guide is mainly the low lying areas to the east and north of the escarpment within the Limpopo, Letaba, Olifants, Sabi and Crocodile river basins where the climate is subtropical to tropical. There are 541 regular and 47 visiting species described in the guide and illustrated with photographs. 

The latest Spotter's Guide follows on from "Spotter's Guide to Birds of the Bushveld', in this Briza series of South African regional bird guides. What makes it different from other bird guides is its handy pocket size and all-weather cover and its unique Shapefinder section, which allows bird watchers to start the identification of a bird from its shape. The Shapefinder and bilingual index are at the front of the book, which is altogether extremely user-friendly. 

With the brief description of each bird, there are pictograms giving the time of year the bird spotter can expect to see the bird, along with its normal habitat, its size, social behaviour, food type and the position of its nest. The bird's common English and Afrikaans names are given, as are some of its distinguishing habits or traits. There is a colour guide for group identification: fresh water, wetland and veld species, birds of prey, scavengers, nectar-feeders, seed-eaters, mixed feeders and insect eaters. 
Toward the end of the guide, there are photographs of rare visitors and vagrants, and of some distinctive under-wing patterns and immature birds. 
A list of the websites of relevant institutions is provided, along with a glossary, bibliography and a map of the Lowveld region. The book was compiled in association with ornithologists, museums and bird clubs, and is endorsed by BirdLife South Africa. It is a project of the Blue Crane Heritage. 

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