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The Birds of Ireland: A Field Guide

July 30, 2013  •  3 Comments

Hi all, it's been a while since I wrote anything for this blog. That is something which I wish to remedy and attempt to blog regularly on photography and aspects of wildlife photography from my experiences in the field. 

One of the reasons why I have not had a chance to write a blog post was due to the time taken up with the usual suspects like work, study, exams and the latest project that Jim Wilson and I have undertaken....a new identification guide to Ireland's birds. I knew that Jim always wanted to do an ID Guide for Ireland so I was going to ensure that we could do it and I wanted to help him in any way I could.  We sat down and devised our plan, set the cut-off for the number of species we would include and then set to work to come up with a design for the plates.  I figured that given the time frame available to us, and the images I had, I should be able to provide at least 60% of the required images.  We would have to depend upon the generosity of friends to fill the gaps. Once we had decided on the format, the species and the types of views we would require for each species, my work began on choosing the images from my catalog or portfolio of images.  The challenge for me was that any gaps I needed to fill would be dependent on getting those images at the weekends, vacation time and also on the weather being kind on those days.  I also had exams to study for! Piece of cake.

The book will be nothing like the previous iterations we have published together.  The former books were essentially "coffee table" books, meant to be enjoyed at home, to be dipped into now and then. This publication is meant to provide beginner birdwatchers and improvers alike a chance to have a high quality photographic guide to the Ireland's common and scarce birds. The book will be small enough to fit in ones pocket but large enough to provide clear images of all the species. There are up to 12-14 images for each species on each plate. Here is the front cover: 

We are fortunate that the book is being produced in association with BirdWatch Ireland (BWI), the largest NGO of its kind in Ireland.   The high-res printer proofs (running sheets) came back in mid-July and it is all systems go now! Printing has already begun, so the books should be arriving in the book stores in late-August. It is very exciting now that the printed material is so close to arriving. 

From the 50,000 to 60,000 or so images I had (coming in on well over 1 TeraByte of storage), I chose about 4,000 images to select from.  Of course, the beauty of this process is that the holes in my portfolio suddenly become canyons and the need for certain species or certain images of species became quite apparent.  This is a great way of determining what is missing from a portfolio of wildlife images! For example, I had no images of Long-eared Owl, Common Scoter in flight, Collared Dove and Woodpigeon in flight, Brambling, Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow, juvenile Starlings, winter plumage Starling…the list was looking endless. At the end of putting the finished book to press, we ended up using over 1,600 images…thankfully, I had provided over 90-92% of those and filled some of those gaping holes in my portfolio in the process! I was delighted to have been able to supply more than the vast majority of images required for the book. The remainder were kindly provided by friends and fellow wildlife photographers. However, it was not all plain sailing and there was some hard work, perseverance, patience and luck involved in obtaining some of those images. It was a monumental task but thankfully it all came together in the end. Oh...and I passed the exams as well!

Since I had been back in Ireland after my time in Japan, there was one thing that Jim had drilled into my head…get as many profile images of the local species as possible and then concentrate on the images illustrating action and the rare and scarce. I always wondered why he said that...

Here are a couple of sample plates to give you a taster of what is to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Comments

Tom Bannon(non-registered)
Hi Mark,
Collins Press are on the ball - I ordered The Birds Of Ireland a field guide yesterday morning and it arrived in the post this morning (less than 24 hours )

Incredible body of work and already just enjoying leafing through your great images and loving the scarce and rare sections

Well done to yourself and Jim Wilson on this one.

Tom
Claire(non-registered)
The detail is fabulous, and having scoured many many bird books, the photographic diversity is spot on - illustrating the true to life variations of plumage.
Can't wait for it to be on sale.
Fiona Harrison(non-registered)
Well done to you both Mark.
I can only imagine the hours of photography work that's gone into this project, and I can already see from your template that it's going to be a book I will not just purchase and leave there, but I'll be referring to it regularly.
Well done to everyone involved.
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