A New Field Guide
There are a growing number of regional field guides to the reptiles and amphibians. Thankfully those shelves are being filled with dedicated texts to countries lesser studied. However, North America, and the United States in particular, have been booming with guides focusing on a specific region. The Peterson Field Guides to Western and Eastern North America, by Stebbins and Conant respectively, have been the standards by which most guides are judged. The University of California Press has an excellent series of natural history guides and this summer they published the revised edition to the classic regional guide, Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California, also originally authored by Robert C. Stebbins. The update was co-authored by Samuel M. McGinnis and is an excellent addition to the Peterson series. California has a wealth of herpetofauna and this guide goes into very good detailed accounts of our species. It includes Stebbins’ excellent drawings and a variety of photos to help identify as well as recognize habitat.
I have a fondness for this text because Dr. McGinnis was my professor at Cal State East Bay (then Hayward) in the 90’s. Dr. McGinnis studied under Dr. Stebbins at UC Berkeley a few years back and is now retired from teaching at Cal State. I have made great strides as a herper and photographer since those days but Dr. McGinnis might be happier to know of my advances in my birding skills. I could barely identify pigeons. Now I can recognize calls and still recite bird families thanks to his teachings.