A really nice idea, in my opinion, to do a "where to find x" on one family. Especially on those that also occur in almost impossible places to go. Ordered my copy. :)
Otto Plantema 2019. Privately published. Hard cover, 148 pp. Price: € 19,50. Orders through: firstname.lastname@example.org. Part of the revenue will be donated to BirdLife’s Albatross Taskforce.
Thinking about albatrosses is thinking about remote, uninhabited, windswept islands in the vast open oceans. As being the ultimate marine family, seeing one of the 21 species (25 taxa; following IOC 2019) of Diomedeidae is often one of the highlights of a birdwatcher’s trip. Many of them aren’t very easy to see for the land based birder and access to the colonies is often restricted and expensive. Four species (genus Phoebastria) live in the subtropical north Pacific: Black-footed, Laysan, Short-tailed and Waved Albatross. The other three genera inhabit the southern oceans, especially in and around the Subantarctic: 1 the giant albatrosses (Diomedea): Amsterdam, Antipodean, Tristan, Wandering, Southern Royal Albatross and Northern Royal Albatross; 2 the two sooty’s: Light Mantled and Sooty Albatross (Phoebetria) and 3 the group of the ‘small’ mollymaks (Thalassarche): Black-browed, Bullers, Campbell, Chatham, Grey-headed, Salvin’s, Shy, Atlantic Yellow Nosed and Indian Yellow Nosed Albatross.
The author of this book, Otto Plantema, a Dutch chemist and photographer, has extensively sailed the oceans in search for albatrosses and other seabirds. He has visited breeding colonies of all but one species (Amsterdam Island Albatross) in order to photograph them. Quite a few species were encountered more often than a couple of times. In 2011 I joined the author in the Atlantic Odyssey and must say that the chapters on South Georgia and the Tristan da Cunha archipelago bring back good memories.
The first thing to notice is the stunning quality of the photographs of all species. It is not easy to choose the best photographs, but the front page photo of the Black-browed Albatross chick begging for food and some of the photos of the Southern Royals are my favourites. Second the book is very easy reading, in fact it is a quick en structured overview of where, when and how to see the albatrosses. But it is more than a ‘where to watch birds’ book with pictures. After an introductory chapter which briefly describes taxonomy, ecology, threats, breeding biology and photography, the book describes the main geographical areas which you have to visit if you want to see all the species near or in the colony: Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha archipelago, French Subantarctic islands, New Zealand and Subantarctic islands and the (Subtropical) North Pacific (Hawaii, Japan and Galapagos). Most chapters contain a paragraph on history and geography per island followed by a how to visit these islands and the species accounts, which contain: identification (briefly), history, population, distribution, behavior, breeding, threats and status.
This book is not a field guide nor a monograph on the subject, but while planning your pelagic expedition wíll serve as a beautifully illustrated and up to date ‘where to find albatrosses - with background information’
Rinse van der Vliet