Birds of Uganda by Quentin Meunier and Sherry McKelvie – Book Review
By: Michelle Sutton
Whether you are a visitor to Uganda or a resident, there is undoubtedly one aspect of the country that most people notice, and that’s the birds. Uganda boasts over 1000 species and with so many different birds flitting about, the identification process can be overwhelming, especially for a novice. Field guides do offer a good reference, but nothing can beat a photograph for capturing all the little details and helping distinguish what just whizzed past you.
Birds of Uganda is a full colour, photographic book that is intended as a companion to your field guide. The book is a helpful reference, as well as a lovely book to grace your coffee table. Authors Quentin Meunier and Sherry McKelvie have invested a lot of time and passion into creating this publication and this is clearly visible on each and every page.
The 412-page book features 900 images of 280 different species of birds. The basic concept of the book is to give a photographic introduction to Uganda’s birdlife and as stated above, is intended to be used in conjunction with a field guide. The book begins by outlining the major birding sites and wetland areas throughout Uganda. Following that, each species featured in the book is represented by multiple photographs and captioned with brief descriptions. The names of the birds are listed on each page in six languages, English, Latin, French, German, Spanish and Italian, with Japanese, Mandarin and Russian translations at the back of the book. The index also includes the six languages, which makes this such a great reference for so many people.
What I find so enjoyable about the photos is that they showcase the birds in different situations – whether it be in flight, fishing, eating or a specific behaviour typical of that species. For me, that’s what makes the book so spectacular. If you’re in the field watching a bird for long enough, you will experience what is illustrated on the pages of the book. The images get up close and show detail that really will enrich your birding experience. As a birder myself, I find Birds of Uganda to be a visual feast for the eyes. Although I can identify many of the species in the book, I still enjoy the moments that it has captured. The book is great to just flick through too and allows the reader to indulge in the sheer beauty of birds. The next time I gazed through my binoculars, after looking at the book, I saw details about some birds I had not noticed before.
Industry professionals are also eagerly anticipating the book. I spoke with Mr Sam Mugisha of BIC Tours, who caters especially for Japanese clients. He is very excited about the release of the book and said “I am delighted to have a new bird book on Ugandan birds that is aimed at improving the bird tourism experience in Uganda, and even more pleased that it will have the names of the birds in 9 languages, including Japanese, Mandarin and Russian!” The book is a beautiful visual representation of the diversity that Uganda has to offer and will be something that many people will take pleasure in owning.
“I’m not into birds” I hear you say? Well, there is no better starting point to changing that stance than this book! Once you flip through the pages and see the vast array of colourful beauty of the avian species living around you, I can assure you that you may start to develop a whole new perspective as to what is making the branches of that tree in your garden move. Or, what bird is singing that beautiful song at first light every morning? Birding is an activity that can be enjoyed by anyone, of any age, anywhere you go.