Current book reviews

Common and Spotted Sandpipers cover

Common & Spotted Sandpipers

Phil Holland
Whittles Publishing, Dunbeath 2018
ISBN: 9781849953610

Many of us will probably have only a passing familiarity with Common Sandpipers, either encountered as birds on passage in lowland wetlands, or as dispersed breeding birds along upland lochs and rivers. This delightful book brings all aspects of their behaviour and ecology to life with a mix of natural history observation, data and reference to published studies, which enable us to get to know the species much better. Importantly, this is not just a book about Common Sandpipers in the UK.

The Refugees from Daffodil Cottage

The Refugees from Daffodil Cottage

Ian Rudd
Xadrum 2017
ISBN: 9780995581500

The Refugees from Daffodil Cottage is a children’s fiction book told from the perspective of a flock of birds that lose their home. It teaches about the importance of friendship and the impact that human activity has on birds. It also shows the hardships of the changing seasons birds have to face every year. 

The Wren: a biography

The Wren: a biography

Stephen Moss
Square Peg, London 2018
ISBN: 9781910931936

On St Stephen's Day (Boxing Day) the young men of the village would set out to hunt a wren to parade round the houses in exchange for charity. The tradition of the wren hunt stretches back as far as the Bronze Age, punctuating the darkest point of the year.

Ploughing a new furrow cover

Ploughing a New Furrow: a Blueprint for Wildlife-Friendly Farming

Malcolm Smith
Whittles Publishing, Dunbeath 2018
ISBN: 9781849953283

Ploughing a New Furrow primarily focuses on a series of case studies where the author, Malcolm Smith, seeks to gain an insight from farmers who overcome the myriad of challenges of managing a profitable farming business whilst conserving wildlife.

Rewild Yourself: 23 Spellbinding Ways to Make Nature More Visible

Rewild Yourself: 23 Spellbinding Ways to Make Nature More Visible

Simon Barnes
Simon & Schuster, London 2018
ISBN: 9781471175404

Finding time to enjoy the natural world can be hard, but with a few tips and tricks such as those mentioned in Simon Barnes’ Rewild Yourself it becomes possible to make the most of any length of time and location you might find yourself in. A pleasant book, it takes the time to show you how simple actions and equipment can be used in small “spells” to deepen your perception of the natural world.

Woodpeckers cover


Gerard Gorman
Bloomsbury Publishing, London 2018
ISBN: 9781472951182

From the Gila Woodpecker excavating nest-holes in desert cacti and the Acorn Woodpecker jamming thousands of acorns into holes in ‘granary’ trees to feed on later, through to the flycatching woodpeckers, the woodpeckers are a more diverse family than one might initially assume. This message is adeptly conveyed in Woodpeckers by Gerard Gorman, with crisp colourful images and easily digestible text.

Sutherland Birdlife

Sutherland Birdlife

Fraser Symonds & Alan Vittery
Privately published 2018
ISBN: 9781788084925

Sutherland Birdlife is a book of two halves; the first covers the geography, habitats and birdlife of the county and the second is comprised of species accounts that form an extension to Alan Vittery's 1997 book 'The Birds of Sutherland'. These distinct halves are separated by several pages of beautiful watercolours by Symonds, illustrating some of the species characteristic to the county at different times of the year.

Moral entanglements

Moral Entanglements : Conserving Birds in Britain and Germany

Stefan Bargheer
University of Chicago Press 2018
ISBN: 9780226543826

What are the values that people attach to birds? How do they change over time, and how are the underlying moral commitments then expressed in the legal and practical implementation of conservation? These questions are at the heart of Moral Entanglements by Stefan Bargheer.

Urban Raptors

Urban Raptors: Ecology and Conservation of Birds of Prey in Cities

Clint W Boal & Cheryl R Dykstra (editors)
Island Press, Washington,DC 2018
ISBN: 9781610918398

I have been researching urban raptors for the last few years, so I was really looking forward to reading Urban Raptors: Ecology and Conservation of Birds of Prey in Cities and was not disappointed. The book is edited by Clint Boal and Cheryl Dykstra and contains contributions from many other experts in the field.



Tim Dee
Little Toller, Fratrum, Dorset 2018
ISBN: 9781908213624

Landfill, by writer, radio producer, and one-time ‘ornithological zealot’, Tim Dee, focuses on gulls. It is a far cry from other recent works (Gulls Simplified by Pete Dunne and Kevin Karlson, and Gulls of the World: A Photographic Guide by Klaus Malling Olsen), in that although Tim Dee is undoubtedly knowledgeable about gull ID, behaviour and ecology, much of Landfill is devoted to the way gulls interact with humans and how they have woven their way into our history, culture and folklore.

Field Guide to Ladybirds

Field Guide to the Ladybirds of Great Britain and Ireland

Helen Roy & Peter Brown ; Richard Lewington (Illus)
Bloomsbury Wildlife, London 2018
ISBN: 9781472935687

Ladybirds are arguably the most familiar group of beetles as far as the general naturalist is concerned, although many birdwatchers would struggle to name more than one or two species with any certainty.

Birds in the Ancient World: Winged Words

Birds in the Ancient World: Winged Words

Jeremy Mynott
Oxford University Press, Oxford 2018
ISBN: 9780198713654

The history lover inside me drew me to this title but I was pleased to find my ecologist’s curiosity satisfied many times whilst reading this book. The author delves into how birds fitted into the lives of people living around the Mediterranean during the classical era and it is one of the most comprehensive and detailed descriptions I have ever read. If you are of an inquiring mind then the reference lists will take you further but for the typical reader you will find most topics covered to your satisfaction.

Birdwatching London

Birdwatching London: all the Best Places to See Birds in the Capital

David Darrell-Lambert
Safe Haven Books, London 2018
ISBN: 9780993291159

At first glance this book looks like any ordinary book about birding. However upon closer inspection the author has managed to portray his enthusiasm and personality through his choice of words. This in some cases can even come across as humorous.

The locations are packed full of information including the star species for the site, the author’s past experiences with the sites and also information on the notable birds that have in the past been present, in order to spur some interest in these areas especially in migration.

Bat, by Tessa Laird (cover)


Tessa Laird
Reaktion Books, London 2018
ISBN: 9781780238944

‘Bat’ is an interesting dissection of the many different sides of bats, from both a biological and a cultural view point. The book is full of intriguing, bizarre and astonishing facts about bats, from biology, pop culture, mythology, literature and art. The main focus is on the interaction of bats and human life - the way they are portrayed within different cultures, the effect that has on the cultural opinion and what that means for their protection in the law or lack thereof.

Bird Photographer of the Year 3

Bird Photographer of the Year 3

Bird Photographer of the Year Ltd
William Collins, London 2018
ISBN: 9780008293628

This book, which contains a selection of the winning, commended and shortlisted photographs from the Bird Photographer of The Year’s third annual competition is an absolute delight. It is a work of art both in its production and its content. Working your way through from the brilliantly original abstract shot of a Razorbill to the close-up shot of a Water Rail at the very end of the book you cannot help but be astonished and impressed with the sheer technical skill, imagination and artistic vision of the photographers.