Current book reviews

Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East: an Annotated Checklist

Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East: an Annotated Checklist

Dominic Mitchell
Lynx Edicions, Barcelona 2017
ISBN: 9788494189296
Hardback

Any serious birder that explores the Western Palearctic (WP) will know how complex this region is: from its bird diversity to its different cultures, languages and socio-political contexts. It thus becomes easier to understand how a simple updated checklist of the birds occurring within this region hasn’t been published in more than two decades when the game-changing series Birds of the Western Palearctic was last published.

Songs of Love and War: the Dark Heart of Bird Behaviour

Songs of Love and War: the Dark Heart of Bird Behaviour

Dominic Couzens
Bloomsbury Publishing, London 2017
ISBN: 9781472909916
Hardback

The latest book from Dominic Couzens promises to enthrall the reader with tales of the ‘dark heart’ underlying the every-day behaviours performed by birds. In the most part it did not disappoint, providing insight into activities such as the dawn chorus, migration, and sexual selection.

Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago: Greater Sundas and Wallacea

Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago: Greater Sundas and Wallacea

James A Eaton, Bas van Balen, Nick W Brickle & Frank E Rheindt
Lynx Edicions, Barcelona 2016
ISBN: 9788494189265
Hardback

I visited Sumatra last year, armed with a fairly dated “A field guide to the birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Bali” by MacKinnon and Phillipps, and although I did get by with this guide, I felt an improvement was urgently needed.

Birds of Spain

Birds of Spain

Eduardo de Juana & Juan M Varela Simó English translation by Ernest Garcia
Lynx Edicions, Barcelona 2017
ISBN: 9788416728022
Hardback

The 3rd edition of the guide of Birds of Spain by Eduardo de Juana and Juan M. Varela is the first to be translated into English (by Ernest García). It is a compact, easy to use field guide, covering the avifauna of Spain (including the North African cities of Ceuta, Melilla, the Canaries and Balearic Islands).

A Lizard Bird Diary

A Lizard Bird Diary: a Study of the Birds of the South Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall: 1970-2015

Brian Cave
Privately published 2016
ISBN: 9781527200401
Softback

Living in south east Cornwall I'm probably much closer to the Lizard than many of you reading this. However, it's still almost two hours drive away and consequently not an area that I regularly visit, so I was looking foreword to finding out more about this famed location.

The author has been recording his bird observations on the Lizard since 1970 so was seemingly well placed to give an authoritative account, and on the whole I was not disappointed.

Best Birdwatching Sites: Yorkshire

Best Birdwatching Sites: Yorkshire

Neil Glenn & John Miles; John Davis (illus.)
Buckingham Press, Peterborough 2017
ISBN: 9780956987679
Softback

This is a very nicely produced book covering almost 100 of the best sites in Yorkshire to go birding. It covers a wide range of locations, from the famous coastal hotspots of Spurn and Flamborough, to inland wetlands such as Old Moor and Fairburn Ings, to extensive upland areas in the Pennines and North York Moors.

Wildlife on Your Doorstep

Wildlife on Your Doorstep

Mark Ward
Reed New Holland, London 2017
ISBN: 9781921517747
Softback

This lovely book came to me at just the right time, as the arrival of spring allowed me to read most of it while sitting in my garden, watching the wildlife on my own doorstep. I’d gladly buy this book for adults or older children living in rural or suburban neighbourhoods as Mark Ward’s enthusiasm is truly infectious. Mark provides helpful guidance on how to define your ‘patch’ for observing wildlife in different habitats in and around your garden, plus seasonal tips you might find useful for your own part of the UK. This could very well set you on pa

A Fieldworker's Guide to the Golden Eagle

A Fieldworker's Guide to the Golden Eagle

Dave Walker
Whittles Publishing, Dunbeath 2017
ISBN: 9781849952248
Softback

This book contains lots of insightful information, gathered skilfully and painstakingly over years of patient fieldwork. All aspects of Golden Eagle ecology are covered, with particular detail given on habitat use, territoriality, diet and reproductive behaviour. Adding to the book’s value is the fact that it describes behaviour in all seasons, with knowledge of individual eagles and the landscapes they inhabit built up over the course of many years.

The Sensory Ecology of Birds

The Sensory Ecology of Birds

Graham R. Martin
Oxford University Press, Oxford 2017
ISBN: 9780199694549
Softback

We often feel we need to take a "bird's eye view". But what exactly how does a bird's eye view the world anyway? We can never truly know, but Graham Martin does his best to help us understand not only how birds see the world, bur hear, touch and smell it too.

Where the animals go

Where The Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics

James Cheshire & Oliver Uberti
Particular Books, London 2016
ISBN: 9781846148811
Hardback

From the very first page this book is an enthralling look at the world that technology can help us uncover. It is not just a look at where the animals go, but why they are going, how the animals get there, the problems they encounter and the stories of some of these individuals.

Birding in the Bristol Region

Birding in the Bristol Region: a Celebration: 50 Years of the Bristol Ornithological Club

William Earp (ed)
Bristol Ornithological Club, Bristol 2017
ISBN: 9781527205062
Softback
This short book has been produced to mark 50 years of the Bristol Ornithological Club.
Birds as Useful Indicators of High Nature Value Farmlands

Birds as Useful Indicators of High Nature Value Farmlands

Federico Morelli and Piotr Tryjanowski (editors)
Springer International Publishing, Cham 2017
ISBN: 9783319502823
Hardback

The aim of this book was to provide a framework to use birds as indicators of High Nature Value (HNV) farmlands, and it includes five chapters on general aspects of HNV and three chapters which cover as many case-studies.


The first chapter provides an introduction to HNV farming, including ways to characterise it, and differences in agriculture between Western and Eastern Europe. This part of the book provides a useful overview to those completely unfamiliar with HNV farming, although it does not delve into much detail.

Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World

HBW and Birdlife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, Volume 2: Passerines

Josep Del Hoyo, Nigel J Collar, David A Christie, Andrew Elliott, Lincoln DC Fishpool, Peter Boesman and Guy M. Kirwan
Lynx Edicions, Barcelona 2016
ISBN: 9788496553989
Hardback

This is the passerine volume of the new checklist produced by the team from Handbook of the Birds of the World.  It essentially follows exactly the same format and rules of the first volume and is a hugely impressive work.

The Egg

The Egg

Britta Teckentrup
Prestel Verlag, Munich-London-New York 2017
ISBN: 9783791372945
Hardback
This is a beautifully illustrated celebration of eggs. Descriptions of the amazing sizes of the eggs of the Elephant Bird and hummingbirds, camouflage in shorebird eggs, the wonderfully diverse shapes and colours of insect eggs and many other topics are all accompanied by charming paintings. The text is minimal but informative and interesting.
Charles Darwin's life with birds

Charles Darwin's Life with Birds: His Complete Ornithology

Clifford B Frith
Oxford University Press 2016
ISBN: 9780190240233
Hardback
There are numerous titles ending in ‘ist’ that could be used to describe Charles Darwin; as Clifford Frith notes, he was a ‘biologist, zoologist, entomologist, botanist, geologist, volcanologist, anthropologist, ethologist and more’. Whilst there have been many publications written about Charles Darwin that cover a good many of these topics and more besides, this book concentrates purely on Charles Darwin the ‘ornithologist’.