Farming With Nature (cover)

Farming with Nature: Promoting Biodiversity Across Europe Through Partridge Conservation

Jen Brewin, Francis Buner & Julie Ewald
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Fordingbridge 2020
ISBN: 9781901369380

This book sets out an approach for successfully combining a viable farming business with increasing biodiversity and other public goods. It draws on scientific research and demonstration projects from across Europe and outlines habitat measures designed to benefit the Grey Partridge.

Raptor Prey Remains (cover)

Raptor Prey Remains: A Guide to Identifying What’s Been Eaten by a Bird of Prey

Ed Drewitt
Pelagic Publishing, Exeter 2020
ISBN: 9781784272074

Upon receiving this book, I showed it to my non-birding partner, who saw the front cover and described it as “traumatic”. This is not a book for the squeamish, as the graphic front cover featuring the final moments of a Starling’s life makes abundantly clear. Rather, this is a book that may appeal to raptor workers or other ecologists as a reference tool in the exciting whodunnit mysteries that prey remains present to those of us with a fascination for such things.

Hats: A Very UNnatural History (cover)

Hats: a Very UNnatural History

Malcolm Smith
Michigan State University Press, Michigan 2020
ISBN: 9781611863475

The vivid plumage used on the hat on the cover of this book is a reminder of the main reason birds are featured in a book on hats. Covering the history of hats from their earliest evidence at the end of the Stone Age through the peak of the fur and feather trade to modern hat styles, this book cleverly introduces us to the consequences of extravagant tastes in materials and fashions.

Birds: An Anthology (cover)

Birds: An Anthology

Jaqueline Mitchell
Bodleian Library Publishing, Oxford 2020
ISBN: 9781851245291

Judging the selection of material for an anthology is pointless - each is as individual as a Nightingale's song, shaped by the taste and experience of the compiler. However, any anthology should aspire to serendipity and digestibility, to inform and inspire, and be attractive enough to make you want to dip in. The material selected for this book draws on the Bodleian's extensive archives and ranges from Ovid to Helen Macdonald and Simon Barnes, though most comes from the 16th to early 20th Centuries.

The Ring Ouzel (cover)

The Ring Ouzel: a View from the North York Moors

Vic Fairbrother & Ken Hutchinson; Jonathan Pomroy(Illustrator), Chris Rollie (Fwd)
Whittles Publishing, Dunbeath 2020
ISBN: 9781849954587

In my career as a field ornithologist, I would rate one of the best projects I ever worked on as the season I spent assisting on the long-running Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) monitoring project at Glen Clunie in Aberdeenshire. That project initiated my passion for the mountain blackbird and having the opportunity to spend hours among the heather and crags peering into the intricacies of Ring Ouzel life taught me so much about interpreting the behaviour of individual birds.

Woodland Flowers (cover)

Woodland Flowers: Colourful Past, Uncertain Future

Keith Kirby
Bloomsbury, London 2020
ISBN: 9781472949073

This is a book for anyone curious about the lives of our woodland plants, and the processes and pressures that affect them. Keith Kirby’s career as a woodland ecologist gave him vast experience of woods and their conservation throughout Britain. This is the eighth title in the British Wildlife Collection series that already has a reputation for finely produced, informative, readable books. Keith Kirby’s book is a thought provoking, personal and richly illustrated contribution to it.

The Biology of Moult in Birds (cover)

The Biology of Moult in Birds

Lukas Jenni & Raffael Winkler
Helm, London 2020
ISBN: 9781472977229

Moult is a fascinating basic life history event in birds which, despite its major impact on their life cycle, is relatively poorly understood and even neglected. This is a companion to the excellent Moult and Ageing of European Passerines (secodnd edition, 2020) by the same authors, previously reviewed in BTO News 335.

Uplands and Birds (cover)

Uplands and Birds

Ian Newton
William Collins, London 2020
ISBN: 9780008298524

Once again, Ian Newton has produced another brilliant book. As always, it is packed with facts and ideas presented in a clear and easy style that both grips one’s interest and deepens one’s understanding.

Pembrokeshire (cover)


Jonathan Mullard
William Collins, London 2020
ISBN: 9780008112820

Like the author, I too spent many a childhood holiday in Pembrokeshire. In those days the five hour drive from the mountains of Snowdonia to the Mediterranean-like coast of Pembrokeshire was well worth it, especially the boat trips to Caldey to see my first Grey Seals. Now in later life I visit Pembrokeshire again mainly to the coast and Islands for the bird life - little realising what other treasures the county has to offer. I am fortunate in having a number of friends in the area who never fail to remind me that there is an awful lot more to Pembrokeshire than birds.

The Kestrel (cover)

The Kestrel: Ecology, Behaviour and Conservation of an Open-land Predator

David Costantini & Giacomo Dell'Omo
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2020
ISBN: 9781108470629

The Kestrel is probably not a book for those with a passing interest in kestrels, but would be a useful addition to the library of anyone who has a keen research interest in this widespread but declining falcon. The book, published by Cambridge University Press, looks at some of the not-inconsiderable volume of research that has been published on kestrels over the past 30 years in particular, since the publication of the Poyser monograph of the same title by Andrew Village in 1990.

Provence and Camargue (cover)

Provence and Camargue – France

Dirk Hilbers, Constant Swinkels & Albert Vliegenthart
Crossbill Guides Foundation, Arnhem 2020
ISBN: 9789491648168

Global circumstance has made international travel too tricky to contemplate in 2020. So could a Crossbill Guide – guidebooks for the discerning naturalist to some of Europe’s most exciting regions – be a good read in such a year? Thankfully, yes. Within a few pages, I was yearning to return to Provence and the Camargue, a region I’ve only once explored.

Avifaunas Atlases & Authors (cover)

Avifaunas, Atlases & Authors: a Personal View of Local Ornithology in the United Kingdom, from the Earliest Times to 2019

David Ballance
Calluna Books, Wareham 2020
ISBN: 9780993347757

As the title of this book suggests, it is a meta-book; a book about other books. Its main purpose is to inform the reader about works that deal, in various ways, with the element of place in ornithology. These can largely be separated into books describing where different birds occur within a country or region (atlases), and those describing the occurrence and status of birds in one or more localities (avifaunas). It is a follow-up to a previous book (and three large supplements expanding on it) by the same author called Birds in Counties, which was published in 2001.

Acoustic Ecology of European Bats 2nd edition (cover)

Acoustic Ecology of European Bats: Species Identification, Study of their Habitats and Foraging Behaviour

Michel Barataud (author), Yves Tupinier, Herman J.G.A. Limpens (contributors), Anya Cockle-Betian (translator)
BIOTOPE, Paris 2020 (2020)
ISBN: 9782366622447

With developments in bat detectors, particularly passive detectors which are left outside to automatically trigger and record any bats that fly past, there is the potential to provide representative acoustic monitoring of bat species distribution and activity as a measure of relative abundance. Whilst software for semi-automating the analysis of sound files is available and can save considerable time in helping to assign recordings to species as a first analyses, acoustic identification using these approaches is not perfect for many species.

Gulls (cover)


John C. Coulson
William Colliins, London 2019 (2019)
ISBN: 9780008201432

Gulls is a weighty addition to the New Naturalist series, with almost 500 densely-worded pages (including appendices and indices). This is not entirely surprising, given the lengthy research career of the author, whose peer-reviewed publications on gulls span seven decades. But what of the information therein?

Birds of the UK Overseas Territories (cover)

Birds of the UK Overseas Territories

Roger Riddington (ed.)
Poyser, London 2020
ISBN: 9781472977267

Readers of British Birds will most likely be familiar with much of the content of this new publication from Poyser, which brings together 13 papers published over the past 12 years, each describing the birds of the various far-flung remnants of Britain’s colonial history. Each of these papers now forms a chapter that gives a detailed introduction to the ornithological interest of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs).