Monday, 20 November 2006

All this exam marking kept me confined to the office and house. The one time I did nip out, I saw a pair of sacred kingfishers. Of course, I'd left the damned camera at home, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Otherwise, all the wildlife I've observed has been in my garden. And it hasn't been very exciting.

Which is just as well, because were I attempting to identify something unusual by using Melbourne's Wildlife, a guide published recently by Museum Victoria and CSIRO, I'd be completely flummoxed.

You know you're in trouble, when the only quote that appears on the cover is the following from John Landy.
Anyone who has ever wondered about the local animal world will want to own this book.

At least the Queensland Museum's Wildlife of Greater Brisbane (to which the MV book bears a strong resemblance) had an endorsement from David Bellamy.

So what's wrong with Melbourne's Wildlife?

Well, my main gripe is about the pictures. A book for non-specialists has to have good illustrations. This one doesn't.

For a start, they're too small (about 50 x 35 mm). Some are cropped unsympathetically (the pelican has no tip to its bill; the wood duck has lost its feet) or printed badly (the whistlers and paradise flycatchers bleed into their backgrounds). Others are of little use in identification. The eastern whipbird is a small olive green patch in the middle of the photograph. The pink robin is distinguished by a distinct lack of pinkness. And that's just the bird pictures. You've got no chance with the others. I tried to identify a butterfly today and didn't get anywhere, even though I knew to which family it belonged.

The John Landy cover quote was extracted from his introduction. It continues:
It will be used by parents trying to answer the questions of curious children, be thrown into the backpacks of bushwalkers and campers, and generally become invaluable to Melburnians trying to identify what is in their own backyards.

I don't think so, John.

I was hoping this might be a winer but I'm very disappointed. (And $39.95 poorer.)

1 comment:

amegilla said...

I was hoping this might be a winer but I'm very disappointed. (And $39.95 poorer.)

What a ripoff. Make it a real winer, and pour one for me.

Darn it, I just bought John Landy's book on the Naturalist's Year or whatever it's called. Hope that has a bit more going for it.