Book Reviews

Title: Birding with Bill Oddie
Author/s: Bill Oddie & Stephen Moss
Summary: This is a great book for beginners in bird watching but also advanced birders can use this book to extend their knowledge. The first section of this book is all about the right equipment and tips such as advice on what binoculars to use. In the middle of the book there is write up of Bill Oddie’s best year on Hampstead Heath, his local patch. My favourite part of the book is the last chapter, in which Bill Oddie tells tales of birding abroad which can sometimes be quite funny!

Title: This Birding Life
Author/s: Stephen Moss
Summary: This book contains all the best issues of the Guardian’s Birding column put in chapters that all link up. Stephen also has a local patch like Bill Oddie and that has a chapter dedicated to that which is my favourite part of the book.

Title: Bill Oddie’s How to watch wildlife
Author/s: Bill Oddie, Stephen Moss & Fiona Pitcher
Summary: Not the best book I’ve read but not bad either. It offers practical advice on everything from Bird feeding to planning a trip to Mallorca!

Title: The Big Year
Author/s: Mark Obmascik
Summary: Now this IS possibly the best book I’ve ever read! It is the story of one of the best Big Years, a competition to identify the most birds in North America. It follows 3 people: Greg Miller, Sandy Komito and Al Levantin. Sandy Komito is the only person in the world to do two big years in a row, the previous year he set a record of 721 birds. There are only around 675 birds found commonly in America, the others all being vagrants and accidentals. Who will win this year and will Komito break his previous record?

Title: Life Of Mammals
Author/s: Sir David Attenborough
Summary: If you had read the Life of Birds and you liked it, then this is the book for you! During a chapter (for example, Meat Eaters) then it would start with a carnivore then as the chapter goes on it will change to different species, all with a link.

Title: Life on Air
Author/s: Sir David Attenborough
Summary: This book is David Attenborough’s Biography, following him from when he joined Auntie (BBC!) to when he was filming Life In Cold Blood. It is a very descriptive novel containing some very funny bits such as when he shook hands with the chief of a jungle tribe! The rest I will let you figure out when you read this great book.

Title: The Wildlife Trust’s Handbook of Garden Wildlife
Author/s: Nicholas Hammond (foreword by Chris Packham)
Summary: When I first picked this book off the shelf at my local library I was amazed at how diverse this book is, e.g. the common species of House Flies. It has got excellent write ups for the commonest species you might find in your garden and has some useful information on watching animals and key scientific tips. The book is intended for the whole of Europe, not just Great Britain.

Title: The Amateur Naturalist
Author/s: Gerald Durrell with Lee Durrell
Summary: It is a very interesting book, with some tips for wildlife watching in every habitat, with a certain old-fashioned style! It also has some activities to do at the back (some of the activities I don’t even think are legal now?) and a basic identification guide too. I would recommend this book to any keen, budding or experienced naturalists.

Title: The Lichen Hunters
Author/s: Oliver Gilbert
Summary: This is a lovely collection of tales from the point of view of an experienced lichenologist, Oliver Gilbert. It retells stories from places like remote islands and mountains, the Lizard and various churchyards. This is not just a mediocre book about lichens, it is often exciting and even terrifying and spooky in some places!

Title: The Carabidae (ground beetles) of Britain and Ireland
Author/s: Martin L. Luff
Summary: This is one of the few great detailed books for people wanting to identify what ground beetles are around them. I find that constant referral to the diagram of the beetle anatomy is needed, so some beginners might find the jargon quite confusing. However, once you successfully get to the end of the key, there is a lot of information about the beetle you have identified. This is a feature I don’t often see in keys like this and it is an easy way to check your identification.

Title: Concise Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland
Author/s: Martin Townsend and Paul Waring (Illustrations by Richard Lewington)
Summary:This is an easy-to-use, concise guide which is perfect for the beginner, the amateur and the professional. The illustrations are incredibly detailed, which is often needed for this type of identification, all done by “one of Europe’s leading natural history illustrators”. The wiro-binding design lets the book sit permanently open whilst you are peering at a moth, very convenient in the field along with the ‘waterproofness’!

Children’s books

Title: The River Singers
Author/s: Tom Moorhouse
Summary: A delightful book, with astounding illustrations on nearly every page. It follows the life of Sylvan, a young Water Vole from when he was born and his first steps outside. There are tragic losses, but other situations that actually make you want to smile! Will Sylvan and his siblings survive, or will they fall to their doom being eaten by a mysterious killer?

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