This is another in a long line of condensed versions of the authors main guide to the Indian Subcontinent. Many of the illustrations will be familiar from that guide but there are some updated illustrations like the Red-faced and Green-billed Malkoha, both endemic.
The guide starts with the contents and how to use the book, bird topography, glossary, distribution and habitats and bird diversity etc..There is a nice chart with the Endemic, threatened, near-threatened and range restricted birds listed by status and if they are endemic and on the list for Bird Life International or the IUCN Sri Lanka, lastly is a column for range restricted species.
Next follows a list of 37 bird watching areas with a map of the island and the locations marked on there by number which corresponds to the text that follows on the next several pages. Each spot is described with name, location, habitat, best time to visit and what birds you are likely to see there. Quite a nice little addition.
Next are the family summaries with a representation of a member of the family and notes about the members of that family but no page references strangely enough, which is a departure of the norm for the authors.
Following this are 72 plates of very nice artwork that is not cramped and quite large on the plates. Several plumages for male, female and juvenile are represented where necessary. Facing the plates are the text pages. Each species has a good size range map depicting the whole island and the range in green for resident and blue for migrant. The text covers covers the local and migrant subspecies with their status followed by ID which covers the characteristics of the bird and not just a description, voice and habits and habitat are discussed next. There are brief notes on taxonomy and alternate names where relevant at the end of each paragraph. Following the plates is an appendix of vagrant species with a depiction of the species in question and a description with voice and habitat in most cases.
Overall this is a very nice guide. The size is compact enough to transport all day in the field. The artwork is good and a good size making id easy, though there are a few plates with smaller renditions of a few birds on there. The plates aren't cramped with the exception of a few raptor, gull and tern pages where birds are depicted in flight and a few of the shorebirds. This doesn't take away from this guide at all and the text should be enough to help you ID any bird you find there. My one gripe is the lack of attention paid to the endemic residents, a highlight in red on the maps for their range or bold "endemic" in the text would be nice. 27 endemic species, 11% of the bird species, and 72 endemic taxa are accepted in this guide with 43 species being south asia endemics. I can find little on these species in the text apart from the word "endemic" at the start of the text for those endemics, I can find no mention of the 72 endemic taxa that is mentioned at the beginning of the book. It would be good to point them out as one day they may be split so it would be nice to seek them out for when and if that happens.