I’ve had close connections to the Colac/Otway region for most of my life. My aunt lives in Colac, and our family would often holiday in Apollo Bay. It is a tradition that I’ve continued as an adult. Now my visits are less about swimming and sandcastles, and more about discovering wildlife.
I was excited when I discovered this book. It focuses on a smaller geographic area than other guides about the region and goes into more detail. It isn’t as comprehensive as I would have liked; however, it’s a useful addition to your bookshelf if you frequently visit the area.
How is the book structured?
The book focuses on the 192 birds species found in the Colac Otway region. There are three short bird profiles on each page. These profiles contain an image of each bird, their scientific name and their status in the area. The rest of the profile has more general information, such as preferred habitats, behaviours and the best locations to find them.
The profiles assume that you have an existing knowledge of the birds featured. There is the occasional reference to suitable habitats or nesting sites. It also assumes you know the birding sites and habitats in the Colac/Otway region. Eleven sites feature in the introduction, but it isn’t comprehensive enough for those unfamiliar to the area. There is no information about how specific patches change with the seasons. The authors do provide information about how to get to the locations, which was much appreciated.
It is too short
The brevity was my main disappointment with the guide. If you exclude the index, the whole book comes up to just 83 pages. I have been birding for five years. I’ve become pretty familiar with the habitats in the area. I’ve frequently found myself out of my depth. This book gives me more information to work with, but there is still a lot of work I’d need to do in the field.
I would have loved it if there was more space dedicated to individual locations. My knowledge extends to those within 10km from Apollo Bay. The profiles would have also benefitted from more information. An extra sentence or two could have made a profound difference.
Advanced birdwatchers and those very familiar with the key locations probably wouldn’t have the same problem. Nor would those who are just trying to identify the birds they’ve seen locally. My main issue is one that so many local guides share: they’ve skipped the super basics.
Do I Recommend It?
If you live in, or near, the region then yes. Definitely. It will be beneficial for both species identification and discovery. It will save you time, even compared to similar field guides.
If you are a beginner, you will likely need to seek out further resources.
How To Buy
This book is difficult to find online. I’ve seen it at the newsagent, information centre and main bookshop in Apollo Bay.