Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review - Birds of Uzbekistan: Photoalbum

Birds of Uzbekistan: Photoalbum by Boris Nedosekov and Roman Kashkarov (Hertfordshire Press, London, 2012). 100 pages, 200 colour photos, ISBN 9780955754913. Hardback. (Cover: Common Myna and Chaffinch). (Cost in UK 25 Pounds)
This is a superb collection of full-colour photographs provided by the members of Uzbekistan Society for the Protection of Birds, with text in both English and in Russian. This book follows on from the recently published Central Asia field guide, itself a great advert for the region’s avifauna.

A coffee-table sized book, Birds of Uzbekistan: Photo-album presents almost 200 photos of over 100 species, with 95% of the photos having been taken in the wild and being unique to this publication. Each photo caption provides the exact date and place which makes it a great guide to travelling birdwatchers.

There are 468 species of birds in Uzbekistan, with 32 included in the International Red Data Book. After independence, Uzbekistan began to attract the attention of foreign tourist companies, and particularly those specialising in ornithological tourism and birdwatching. Birds of Uzbekistan is therefore a much-needed and timely portrait of this element of the country’s remarkable wildlife.

It has a two-page introduction and a double-page map showing the natural history sites of Uzbekistan. The authors present the photos by broad habitat types. Thus we have the birds of the plains (including deserts), waterbirds, birds of mountains and a short chapter entitled birds and people. Most species are illustrated with an image. Birds on the Critically Endangered such as the Sociable Lapwing, for instance, is given two whole pages, perhaps understandably, including some photos of the recently discovered large post-breeding flocks.

The taxonomic names (designation and sequence of orders, families, and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of Clément's 5th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflects this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Accidental species are included in the total species counts for Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan boasts a wide range of avian fauna because it lies on the crossing of migratory routes from Western Siberia and Kazakhstan to Iran-Caspian and Indo-Pakistani wintering grounds. More than 460 bird species are encountered in Uzbekistan because of this; and of these, more than 265 species are nesting. It is one of the most accessible places in the world to see birds such as Pander’s Ground-Jay, and other species such as the Pygmy Cormorant and Marbled Duck.

This book serves to highlight what a superb birding destination Uzbekistan is and how much there is still to explore. And for those who tire of birding, there are always the wonders of the ancient Silk Road to explore. Situated in the heart of Central Asia and measuring 448,844 km2 in surface area, Uzbekistan is the most densely populated of all Central Asian states.

Despite this, nature and wildlife in Uzbekistan remains rich and diverse. The extraordinary Ustyurt Plateau, the escarpments of which form the shores of the Aral Sea, is situated in the North of the country, while the vast Kyzylkum Desert neighbours the flood-lands of the tugai forests, which fringe the two largest Central Asian rivers, the Syrdarya and the Amudarya. The spurs of the Pamyrs-Alai and Tien-Shan mountain ranges, which are capped with snow all the year round, rise in the South and the East. There are also more than 500 lakes and reservoirs in Uzbekistan.

Recommended Blog: Birds of the Kyzylkum Desert (Uzbekistan) - Local and migrant species of birds of the Uzbek part of the Kyzylkum Desert.

Go to  Birds of Kyzylkum

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