Beak, Tooth & Claw: Living with Predators in Britain (cover)

Beak, Tooth & Claw: Living with Predators in Britain

Mary Colwell
William Collins, London 2021
ISBN: 9780008354763

If you firmly believe that no fox should ever be shot or equally firmly believe that foxes should always be controlled then you may think that this is not a book for you. This is a book full of nuance. Mary Colwell explores predation by talking to people who are actively involved in land management and conservation. She encourages the reader to learn from people trying to face complex conservation challenges which don’t have simple solutions.

Britain’s Insects: A Field Guide to the Insects of Great Britain and Ireland

Britain’s Insects: A Field Guide to the Insects of Great Britain and Ireland

Paul D. Brock
Princeton University Press, Princeton 2021
ISBN: 9780691179278

There are a great number of books out there which claim to be guides to Britain’s insects. However, the majority of them struggle to not only cover most of the main groups, but also they can be misleading, not sharing the other possibilities which the book wasn’t able to cover. With around 25,000 species of insect in Britain and Ireland alone, it’s understandable to see why many of these books fall short.

The Eternal Season: Ghosts of Summers Past, Present and Future (cover)

The Eternal Season: Ghosts of Summers Past, Present and Future

Stephen Rutt
Elliott and Thompson Ltd, London 2021
ISBN: 9781783965731

The Eternal Season is an exploration of the British summer, framed within the 2020 global pandemic but reaching back in time through reference to the writings of others, the author’s recollections of younger years, and the stark figures presented from BTO’s long-term monitoring schemes.

The Nightingale: Notes on a Songbird (cover)

The Nightingale: Notes on a Songbird

Sam Lee
Century, London 2021
ISBN: 9781529124835

Many will know Sam Lee as an award-winning singer, a folk music specialist dedicated to collecting and interpreting Britain’s oral tradition. Some will know him for his work as musical director for RSPB’s ‘Let Nature Sing’, while others will know him through his springtime concert series ‘Singing with Nightingales’, where an audience is led out into darkness of a late spring evening to hear Nightingales and human performers create music in each other’s company, and sometimes together.

How You Can Save the Planet (cover)

How You Can Save the Planet

Hendrikus van Hensbergen
Hamish Hamilton, London 2021
ISBN: 9780241453049

A book by Hendrikus van Hensbergen, the founder Action for Conservation (an organisation getting more young people involved in nature), needs little introduction. Highlighting the lack of participation of young people in conservation, the organisation has helped to inspire others in the field to engage more with the young. The charity has a large following and holds a series of successful events and programmes throughout the year. Action for Conservation was a major influence in the creation of the BTO’s Youth Advisory Panel.

Europe's Dragonflie: A Field Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies (cover)

Europe's Dragonflies: A Field Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies

Dave Smallshire and Andy Swash
Princeton University Press, Princeton 2020 (2020)
ISBN: 9780691168951

As we see the climate warm and the British weather feels more Meditteranean during the summer, new species of dragonfly and damselfly have begun to be recorded in Britain for the first time. This makes it a great time for Wild Guides to publish a guide for Europe’s Dragonflies.

A Beginners Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies (cover)

A Beginner's guide to Dragonflies & Damselflies of Britain and Ireland

David Chandler
Pisces Publications, Newbury 2019
ISBN: 9781874357957

It isn’t unusual for the avid birder, during the peak of summer when many birds are quieter and less obtrusive, to switch their sights to other fauna. Dragonflies and damselflies, with their aerial abilities and colourful markings, can do a lot to keep the at-a-loss birder entertained in the warmer months. They do, however, require a different set of skills to identify, with new nomenclature to learn and different features to pay attention to.

Shearwater (cover)

Shearwater: A Bird, an Ocean, and a Long Way Home

Roger Morgan-Grenville
Icon Books, London 2021
ISBN: 9781785787201

Part travelogue, part memoir, Morgan-Grenville’s book delivers an engaging account of one of our least accessible breeding birds, the Manx Shearwater. The13 chapters are structured around a narrative journey, beginning under the watchful gaze of a grandmother whose strong presence shapes the remainder of the book. The story of the Manx Shearwater, both in its breeding colonies and out on the open ocean, is told in a way that brings together the bird’s ecology with acutely judged but lightly handled human observation.

Swifts and Us (cover)

Swifts and Us: The Life of the Bird that Sleeps in the Sky

Sarah Gibson
William Collins, London 2021
ISBN: 9780008350635

Just as the May return of our breeding Swifts delivers a feeling of reassurance, so their late summer departure leaves a sense of loss. That loss, repeated each year, now carries the greater weight that comes from knowledge of the decline in UK Swift populations, evident in BTO’s long-term datasets. Sarah Gibson came to Swifts late but is a passionate local advocate for this long-distance traveller, involved in efforts to identify and protect breeding sites and increase awareness.

Birds of East Africa (cover)

Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi

Terry Stevenson & John Fanshawe; Brian E Small & John Gale (Illustrators)
Helm, London 2020 (2020)
ISBN: 9781408157367

This is a second edition of a field guide which appeared in 2002. Superficially it looks like many other second editions but a closer look shows that this is a major revamp and updating. It covers all of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and at least mentions all the species which have occurred in these countries with almost all of them illustrated. The guide covers 1,448 species which is an increase of 60 on the first edition and they are covered on 289 plates (286 previously).

Flight Identification of European Passerines (cover)

Flight Identification of European Passerines and Select Landbirds: an Illustrated and Photographic Guide

Tomasz Cofta, photographs by Michal Skakuj
Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford 2021
ISBN: 9780691177571

Vis-migging, the art of watching, identifying and recording all of the birds seen flying through and over a particular watchpoint is better known as recording visible migration. The ability to accurately identify what often amount to little more than smallish dots is something that can only be gained by spending time vis-migging – lots and lots of time, learning the different flight patterns of the different families and the individual species.

All the Birds of the World (cover)

All the Birds of the World

Josep del Hoyo (editor)
Lynx Edicions, Barcelona 2020
ISBN: 9788416728374

Lynx have had a long-term project to produce an exhaustive guide to the birds of the world. It started out with the 17 volumes of the Handbook of the Birds of the World (1992-2013) which has family and species accounts for all birds. This was followed by the two volumes of the Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World (2014-16). They have now published the third and final stage of this avian odyssey with this current book.

Fragile: Birds Eggs and Habitats (cover)

Fragile: Birds, Eggs and Habitats

Colin Prior
Merrell Publishers, London 2020
ISBN: 9781858946887

The acclaimed Scottish photographer Colin Prior is more usually associated with stunningly evocative panoramic landscapes of his homeland and further afield, but for his latest project the artist has returned to one of his first loves, birds; a passion nurtured while growing up on the edge of a Glasgow suburb. Like many however, Colin is acutely aware of the staggering decline of many species and the loss of the habitats they depend upon. Fragile is both inspired by and acts as a metaphor highlighting such demise.

My Birding Life (cover)

My Birding Life

Moss Taylor
Wren Publishing, Sheringham 2020
ISBN: 9780954254582

Ask any birder or naturalist that lives in Norfolk if they know the name Moss Taylor and invariably, they will say "yes", and I suspect the majority will have met him too, and of these many know him as a friend. He is a man, on first meeting, you are unlikely to forget!

Moss has been a keen birder since 1953 and a Norfolk resident from 1969 to the present day. He has also been a qualified ringer for over 50 years, only recently surrendering his permit after some of the most pioneering ringing endeavours seen in Norfolk in the 1970s and 80s.

Lincolnshire Bird Atlas (cover)

Lincolnshire Bird Atlas 1980-1999

Lincolnshire Bird Club
Lincolnshire Bird Club 2020
ISBN: 9781716802638

Published soon after the series of local atlases that coincided with Bird Atlas 2007–11, you might think the Lincolnshire Bird Atlas would span a similar period. You might expect a lavishly illustrated atlas with up to date distribution maps. You’d be wrong on both counts because this is a very different atlas, one from a different era. An atlas that nearly never was.