I was so overwhelmed when I first started birdwatching in 2015. There was so much information online on various blogs, social media sites and e-bird. Where To See Birds In Victoria was one of the first birdwatching books that I bought, and it has been a much-used resource during my journey. It is a brilliant primer for birdwatching and gives you a broad overview of many sites in Victoria.
It’s the first book I use when researching a new area and one of the few I always take with me.
How Is The Book Structured?
The book is organized into eight key regions of Victoria: The Victorian Mallee, greater Wimmera, north-central Victoria, western Victoria, Geelong, Melbourne, Gippsland and Far Eastern Gippsland. Each section has dedicated chapters dedicated to specific birding sites or areas. Some of these sites are quite large, such as the Great Otway National Park and Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula.
Each chapter has a brief background on the region, information on how to get there, accommodation and facilities, and the key birding sites in that area.
There is also a Bird Finding Guide at the end of the book. It listed each species in Victoria and give a short explanation of how common it is and where to find it. The guide was so useful. I was able to go through the book and discover some of the species I was after and create a bit of a bucket list. I’d notice similarities and then look up specific locations and plan an adventure.
Some chapters were too brief
Some chapters focus on just 3-4 locations, whereas others, like the Greater Geelong chapter, have 13. As a newbie, I found that the chapters that covered more sites weren’t comprehensive enough. Balyang Sanctuary got one short paragraph and, due to seasonal changes, was a bit outdated. This is to be expected; external forces such as bushfires and climate change have changed the birds behaviour. The brevity meant that there were times in the field when I was in over my head. This isn’t a fault of the book, as no statewide guide can cover everything. I’d recommend using this guide as your first reference point, and then using additional resources like ebird and Facebook for the best chance of finding birds.
Do I recommend it?
This book is intended to be a starting point, and it very much serves that purpose. However, the guide shouldn’t be the sole source of information when going on trips. It would be best if you used the book to get an overview of the birding opportunities in an area and use that as a starting point for further research. Use it to create a shortlist of locations.
If you are birding in only one or two regions of Victoria, a more specific guidebook may be more relevant. Alternately, you can check out the local Birdlife office for resources.
I’m critical of the book only so people can make the right decision when buying it. I would have learned a lot more in a shorter time if I’d used it the right way.