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Book Reviews

Browse the archive of BTO Book Reviews, which originally appear in each issue of BTO News - the BTO membership magazine. Join BTO today to get BTO News, and new book reviews, first.

The Effects of Climate Change on Birds (cover)

Effects of Climate Change on Birds

Author: Peter O. Dunn & Anders Pape Møller

Publisher: Oxford University Press, Oxford

Publication Year: 2019

ISBN: 9780198824275

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 288pp

Price: £37.99

Since the publication of the first edition of this edited volume 10 years ago, we have all grown in our awareness of the twin biodiversity and climate crises that the planet faces. There is building evidence that the climate is changing, and of its impact on biodiversity, of which the literature on birds is a significant component. The authors start their book with an assessment that more than 11,400 papers have been published on the subject of climate change and birds, of which two thirds... read more

James Pearce-Higgins

An Indifference of Birds (cover)

An Indifference of Birds

Author: Richard Smyth

Publisher: Uniformbooks, Axminster

Publication Year: 2020

ISBN: 9781910010228

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 109pp

Price: £12.00

In this brilliant book, Smyth shines a light on the relationship between birds and humans. In particular, on the roles we have played, and continue to play, in bird lives and histories. In doing so, he gently challenges mainstream narratives in modern-day conservation, prompting the reader to examine their own notions of value and motivation. Smyth looks at the various ways in which we have given to and taken from birds, tipped the balances to favour some birds to the detriment of others.... read more

Mark Wilson

Wildlife Disease Ecology (cover)

Wildlife Disease Ecology: Linking Theory to Data and Application

Author: Kenneth Wilson, Andy Fenton & Dan Tompkins (eds.)

Publisher: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Publication Year: 2019

ISBN: 9781107136564

Binding: Hardback

Page Count: 690pp

Price: £89.99

Zoonotic diseases (those that infect humans but which originate in populations of wild animals), especially novel ones, sometimes receive quite high profile, e.g. avian influenza, Ebola and, more recently, coronaviruses.
The study of disease in wild animals, though, is something of a ‘Cinderella’ subject and this book does a valuable service in bringing together a wide range of case-studies, from carnations through to American buffalo, to show what a fertile area it is.

Three... read more

Rob Robinson

Birds of Bhutan & Eastern Himalayas (cover)

Birds of Bhutan and the Eastern Himalayas

Author: Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp, Tim Inskipp & Sherub

Publisher: Helm, London

Publication Year: 2019

ISBN: 9781472941886

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 416pp

Price: £30.00

The original Birds of Bhutan published by Helm in 1999 was the first field guide to the avifauna of this Himalayan nation; the new work however, is not simply just a second edition but has been extended to include the neighbouring Indian states of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, and also adds the renowned Bhutanese bird expert Sherub as a fourth author.

Whilst much of the book is devoted to the superbly illustrated plates and corresponding species accounts, the introductory... read more

Justin Walker

Britain's Day Flying Moths (cover)

Britain's Day-Flying Moths: a Field Guide to the Day-flying Moths of Great Britain and Ireland

Author: David Newland, Robert Still & Andy Swash

Publisher: Princeton University Press, Princeton (NJ) & Oxford

Publication Year: 2019

ISBN: 9780691197289

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 232pp

Price: £17.99

Mention of a day-flying moth to many people will receive a reaction akin to ‘Don’t you mean a butterfly?’ However, as mentioned in WildGuide’s Britain’s Day-flying Moths the number of moth species which are most active in the day (158 covered in the book) comfortably doubles the number of our butterflies (71 species including migrants). The differences between moths and butterflies are included here, along with the book’s definition of day-flying which encompasses those species... read more

Rob Jaques

The Consequences of Finding Daniel Morgan (cover)

The Consequences of Finding Daniel Morgan

Author: Peter J Robinson

Publisher: Matador, Kibworth Beauchamp

Publication Year: 2019

ISBN: 9781838590536

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 238pp

Price: £9.99

A thriller surrounding illegal wildlife trade, focusing on tropical birds and remote locations, is certainly a new find in the ornithological section of the library. Robinson’s crime novel is a welcome new genre, and I was excited to get tucked into what was bound to be an exciting read.

For the most part, it proved to be just that. The scenes are set with knowledge of the area, describing Cairns to a level of detail that brought me back to my backpacking days in the city. The story... read more

Faye Vogely

Eagle Owl (cover)

The Eagle Owl

Author: Vincenzo Penteriani & María del Mar Delgado

Publisher: T & AD Poyser, London

Publication Year: 2019

ISBN: 9781472900661

Binding: Hardback

Page Count: 384pp

Price: £60.00

For clarity, the subject here is the Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo. The authors have studied this bird for more than 30 years in Finland, France, Spain and Italy and are exceptionally qualified to give it the Poyser-style treatment.

Their text is packed densely with information, supported by many literature citations, charts, line-drawings and photographs, and is written clearly and presented well – though often in exceptionally long paragraphs. Topics include numbers and... read more

John Marchant

Finding Birds in Eastern Bulgaria (cover)

Finding Birds in Eastern Bulgaria

Author: Dave Gosney

Publisher: Easybirder, Sheffield

Publication Year: 2019

ISBN: 9781907316593

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 40pp

Price: £8.50

If you’ve used a ‘Gosney guide’ in the past, then you will be familiar with the format. There is a general introduction to the area but the book is a site guide. The site is described on the left page, and there is a beautifully hand-drawn map on the right. At first glance, you think the maps make no sense at all, but when you are at the site, and read in conjunction with the text, it all makes sense! This guide was published in August, just before I went on a family holiday to Eastern... read more

Dawn Balmer

Madeira (cover)

Madeira, Portugal

Author: Dirk Hilbers & Kees Woutersen

Publisher: Crossbill Guides Foundation, Arnhem

Publication Year: 2019

ISBN: 9789491648175

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 223pp

Price: £28.95

To those familiar with Crossbill Guides, the appealing and accessible layout of the Madeira edition will come as no surprise. It is packed with information that is clearly presented, and complimented with well-chosen and often eye-catching images of the island’s scenery and wildlife. Although it is nearly 20 years since my wife and I visited Madeira on our honeymoon, this guide instantly transported me back to vertiginous levada walks, lush valleys, a seabird-filled ferry crossing to Porto... read more

Nick Moran

Wintering: A Season with Geese (cover)

Wintering: a Season with Geese

Author: Stephen Rutt

Publisher: Elliott and Thompson, London

Publication Year: 2019

ISBN: 9781783964543

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 197pp

Price: £12.99

This is not a long book, but its conciseness is its strength. By the end, you have spent time with each of our native wintering geese species, but a short enough period to be left with the essence of each.

One chapter is dedicated to each of our wintering species (or two, in the case of the most recent taxonomic wrangling of the Bean Geese). Each chapter deftly combines facts with personal anecdote. I learned something new about geese in every one.

The author can see... read more

Teresa Frost

Bird Photographer of the Year 4 (cover)

Bird Photographer of the Year: Collection 4

Author: Rob Read & Paul Sterry (editors); Foreword by Chris Packham

Publisher: William Collins, London

Publication Year: 2019

ISBN: 9780008336196

Binding: Hardback

Page Count: 256pp

Price: £25.00

If a picture paints a thousand words, what can a brief review of a book with 248 beautiful and creatively diverse photos hope to achieve? Happily for all concerned, I am under no illusion that I should try accurately describe each one! I simply aim, using only slightly more than one word per photo that, to convince you that if you like to look at photographs of birds, this book will bring you huge enjoyment. You may, as I do, disagree with many of the selection panel’s choices of award-... read more

Mark Wilson

Birds of Thailand (cover)

Birds of Thailand

Author: Uthai Treesucon & Wich'yanan Limparungpattanakij

Publisher: Lynx Edicions, Barcelona

Publication Year: 2018

ISBN: 9788416728091

Binding: Hardback

Page Count: 452pp

Price: £60.00

I visited Thailand in the 90s and the guide I took with me was the newly published Lekagul and Round, at the time the best available. Nothing could prepare me for what I was about to see, new families and new species were a daily challenge and although Lekagul and Round provided me with an aid to identification for most, for some it was rather lacking.

Fast forward thirty-five years and the new Birds of Thailand is definitely up to the job. There are over 2,000 illustrations... read more

Paul Stancliffe

Ospreys (cover)

Ospreys (RSPB Spotlight)

Author: Tim Mackrill

Publisher: Bloomsbury, London

Publication Year: 2019

ISBN: 9781472956033

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 128pp

Price: £12.99

RSPB’s new addition to their Spotlight series, this time on Ospreys, written by Tim Mackrill of Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, provides a science-driven, yet enjoyably written read on this stunning species of bird of prey.

The book starts by providing the reader with a comprehensive look into the biology and behaviour of Ospreys on a global scale and then continues onto the history of the species in Great Britain. The latter section of the book then looks into the conservation of... read more

Nina Schonberg

Wildlife and Wind Farms: Conflicts and solutions, Volume 3 (cover)

Wildlife and Wind Farms: Conflicts and solutions, Volume 3 - Offshore: Potential Effects

Author: Martin R. Perrow

Publisher: Pelagic Publishing, Exeter

Publication Year: 2019

ISBN: 9781784271275

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 300pp

Price: £45.00

As a relative newcomer to the offshore wind industry, I found this book incredibly useful for explaining the underlying principles of the major elements of the industry, and for getting a good overview of how the sector works. Excellent diagrams, tables, figures and case studies are used throughout to support the clear explanations of, sometimes complicated, processes. The chapter layout flows well, so that each new chapter builds on knowledge from previous ones, such that there is an... read more

Ros Green

Europe's Sea Mammals (cover)

Europe's Sea Mammals: A Field Guide to the Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises and Seals (WildGuides)

Author: Robert Still, Hugh Harrop, Tim Stenton & Luis Dias

Publisher: Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ

Publication Year: 2019

ISBN: 9780691182162

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 208pp

Price: £20.00

This is a detailed identification guide to Europe’s sea mammals, covering 41 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises and nine species of seals. This comprehensive field guide covers the eastern Atlantic from Iceland to Macaronesia, the Mediterranean, Caspian and Baltic Seas, south to Cape Verde and north to Svalbard.

The book opens with an introduction to the different groups of marine mammals covered, the pinnipeds and cetaceans, and to the region covered. It then has a brief... read more

Rachael Barber

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