Today there is a huge interest in birdwatching as a hobby, and over the years amateur birdwatchers have contributed enormously to our understanding of the birds around us. At the same time, ornithology has developed as a science – in the field, in the laboratory, and in the universities – and birds have played their part in pushing forward the frontiers of biological knowledge.
Peter Bircham looks at the history of British ornithology, spanning a millennium and exploring along the way the first bird book, the earliest British lists, various notable scientists, collectors and artists, the first studies of migration, and the challenges presented by classification. He traces the development of the British Ornithologists' Union and other organisations, and finishes with a review of the current state of ornithology in Britain.
‘A History of Ornithology’ is an authoritative and engrossing account, packed full of fascinating stories – not only about the birds but also about the many colourful characters who have studied them through the ages. This beautifully illustrated book will hold great appeal both for the student of ornithology and for the enthusiastic amateur naturalist.
Peter Bircham currently works in the Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, and is also a part-time tutor in ornithology for Cambridge University Institute of Continuing Education. He is the author of ‘The Birds of Cambridgeshire’ and was advisory editor for the ‘Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Ornithology’. He also contributed to the section on avifauna in ‘Wicken Fen – the Making of a Wetland Nature Reserve’. In addition, he has researched and published several academic papers.
The spectacular landscape of the Wye Valley region has attracted visitors for over 250 years. Designated one of the few lowland Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1971, it is dominated by the river Wye, which has done much to form this varied ecological landscape.
George Peterken (who has lived in the region for many years and helped to draft the AONB's Nature Conservation Strategy in 1999), skillfully examines the diverse ecology, natural history, landscape and history of this district defined mainly by the extraordinary evolution of the river Wye into a meandering mature river.
With little previously published on the area, Peterken also explores the results of recent conservation efforts in the region, recognising that despite the protection afforded to the ‘outstanding natural beauty’ of natural habitats and wild species, these regions have continued to suffer substantial losses. Peterken goes on to chart the many initiatives that continue to promote effective conservation within the AONB and surrounding areas.
Perfect for the enthusiastic naturalist, New Naturalist Wye Valley unlocks the secrets of this beautiful natural area.
Dr Ford, the author of this fascinating volume on butterflies, was an enthusiastic butterfly collector in his youth. He was not only a professional biologist of great distinction but also brought his wide knowledge of genetics and evolution to bear on the problems arising out of his collecting. Thus he was able to see butterflies both as an absorbing hobby and as part of the great panorama of biology.
The resultant book is an outstanding contribution to Natural History in the best sense of the term. Natural History is not something inferior to science – it is part of science, inviting an approach by way of field study. While, therefore, Dr Ford’s book contains a somewhat higher proportion of scientific history and technical ideas than most books on Natural History, this for the great majority of amateurs will be a stimulus rather than an obstacle, and throughout the author has kept in mind the needs of butterfly collectors and of all those who love the country in the hope that it may increase their pleasure by widening the scope of their interests.
In this seminal new work, Philip Corbet and Stephen Brooks examine the behaviour, ecology and distribution of dragonflies in Britain and Ireland, placing emphasis on the insects' habitats and also on measures needed to conserve them.
Published in 1960 – with Philip Corbet as contributing author – volume 41 of the New Naturalist series provided the first in-depth study of the biology of British dragonflies, helping to inspire many people to take an interest in these intriguing insects. In this new volume, Corbet has teamed up with Stephen Brooks, offering a fascinating outlook on the natural history of dragonflies. The authors have combined their knowledge and experience to help illuminate the relevance of British dragonfly species, placing them in the overall context of natural history from a broader, worldwide perspective.
Illustrated with beautiful photography throughout, New Naturalist Dragonflies explores all aspects of the biological significance of dragonfly behaviour, thus revealing the beauty and hidden complexity of these powerful, agile, flying predators.
‘Grouse: The Natural History of British and Irish Species’ covers four of the most emblematic species of our upland regions. Collectively they have the most fascinating life histories of any bird group, individually they have their own stories to tell: the ptarmigan is a resident of our highest mountain areas, the black grouse is famous for its extraordinary mating displays, the capercaillie is one of our largest birds and the red grouse, whilst no-longer one of the few British endemics, is one of the most heavily researched species. All four face similar problems, including habitat loss, predators, pests, disease and food shortage. This is compounded by issues of managed animal populations and controversy surrounding the commercial worth of grouse.
This volume in the New Naturalist series, written by two of the world's leading grouse specialists, offers a fascinating insight into the natural history and biology of these birds, including aspects of their behaviour, the historical relevance of their names, the reasons behind population fluctuations and international conservation efforts.