Tag Archives: Book review

Ten Thousand Birds ornithology since Darwin by Tim Burkhead, Jo Wimpenny, Bob Montgomerie Book review

By Tim Birkhead, Jo Wimpenny, Bob Montgomerie

Those of you that know me, know Im passionate about wildlife particularly birds. Ive been a keen ornithologist since my childhood and collected many books over the years.

Most ornithology books tend to be ID books which we all need, but after many years of avian research I do love my bird books with a bit more scientific detail and information.
So when Princeton press offered me their latest ornithology book I jumped at the chance.

Ten Thousand Birds provides a thoroughly engaging and authoritative history of modern ornithology, tracing how the study of birds has been shaped by a succession of visionary and often-controversial personalities, and by the unique social and scientific contexts in which these extraordinary individuals worked. This beautifully illustrated book opens in the middle of the nineteenth century when ornithology was a museum-based discipline focused almost exclusively on the anatomy, taxonomy, and classification of dead birds. It describes how in the early 1900s pioneering individuals such as Erwin Stresemann, Ernst Mayr, and Julian Huxley recognized the importance of studying live birds in the field, and how this shift thrust ornithology into the mainstream of the biological sciences. The book tells the stories of eccentrics like Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, a pathological liar who stole specimens from museums and quite likely murdered his wife, and describes the breathtaking insights and discoveries of ambitious and influential figures such as David Lack, Niko Tinbergen, Robert MacArthur, and others who through their studies of birds transformed entire fields of biology.Ten Thousand Birds brings this history vividly to life through the work and achievements of those who advanced the field. Drawing on a wealth of archival material and in-depth interviews, this fascinating book reveals how research on birds has contributed more to our understanding of animal biology than the study of just about any other group of organisms.

I had seen the details of this book on the website but I have to say I took a deep breath when I opened up the parcel containing this stunning book. Its weighty heavy and amazing quality before you even turn the front cover.
I don’t normally review “quality of books”, but I really have to with this one, its just beautiful.
You have a large 10.5 x 8.5 inch heavy weight book, 1.75 inches thick containing 568 pages, 94 colour images and 60 half tones.
It has a gorgeous outer book dust cover thicker paper than you normally get, if you remove the paper dust cover you will find underneath a beautifully bound old fashioned cover. Those of you like me who still love our paperback books will adore this book.
I also have to mention the gold embossing, you have to admit this is gorgeous you really are holding a quality book in your hand. This is a book you will proudly display on your bookshelf and library for years to come or keep on the coffee table.
So back to the book itself; what actually is the book about if its not an ID book I hear you ask….well its a comprehensive extremely well researched history of ornithology and the key ornithologists that have made a difference to scientific research and biological science since Darwin.
There are approximately 10,000 species of birds on our planet and they have contributed more to the study of  zoology than almost any other group of animals.

Konishi et al 1989

The study of birds goes back to ancient Greece in the mid 1600s and it has been estimated that there has been no fewer than 380,000 ornithological publications since Darwin published The origin of species in 1859.
In the last few years ornithologists and their research have been increasing rapidly; with the onset of technology making Ornithology more scientific. The authors actually mention over 700 ornithologists and their individual involvements.
These 3 experienced authors have made this book a definitive leader in the science and research of modern ornithology all in one book; including fascinating information about the main pioneers involved in the historical ground breaking discoveries that changed whole fields of biology and its these that form the basis of this amazing book.
We are spoilt with beautifully illustrated chapter images.
I love the way the book just falls open with its own paper weight.

 Beautifully illustrated diagrams and timelines easily explain the scientists findings.

This image depicts just one of the many ground breaking tests that really add to this brilliant book. This image shows a captive woodpecker finch using a tool to get its food from containers. These experiments were conducted by Bob Bowman in 1965.

I absolutely love this book as Im fascinated about the advancement we have made and are making in avian biology and behavior. I have always watched and read almost anything I can find on birds over the years and I simply couldn’t put this book down as its such an original idea for a book.
I have to say its NOT just a book its a concise reference for anyone who loves birds; as it takes you through from Darwin to present day. If your a person who loves a more scientific look at birds you will really appreciate this book. If your a teacher or student, amateur and professional ornithologists you will also find something of interest here.
The book follows historical advancements and breakthroughs to debates and mistakes; written in such an entertaining engaging way; it even made me laugh in places. Its an addictive, inspiring read so anyone can enjoy this book you don’t need a degree to understand this; just a passion for birds.
Read from pigeon pingpong to indepth interviews about the people that made a marked difference to the science of ornithology. It was so interesting to know more about that person and how they came to have a passion for birds.
You wont find another book like this and this will be an invaluable record of the history of ornithology for many years to come.
Anyone who loves birds in anyway will really appreciate this stunning reference book, beautifully illustrated and bound with a perfect mix of history, ornithology and science and a fun human aspect to make you smile so you wont be able to put down.

You can buy your copy from Amazon UK

TIP; I must say too if you are planning to buy this book get the hardback not the kindle version if you can, you will NOT get the benefit of the stunning illustrations and photos let alone the amazing quality of the binding and stunning cover.

All my thanks goes to the lovely people of Princeton Press for sending me this amazing book for this review.
All my views and opinions are my own.

Britains day Flying Moths by

Front cover

Britains Day-Flying Moths

A field guide to the day flying moths of Britain and Ireland

After having the opportunity to review

Britain’s butterflies by David Newland and Robert Still

I knew this Moth version was going to be just as brilliant ID book.

I also have one other book from the Princeton press’s WILDguide series and that’s also brilliant, Britains Dragonflies; both guides offer stunning well detailed and well composed images taken by obviously brilliant photographers.

Britains Dragonflies (review coming soon)

I dont have many moth books so I was really excited to have the opportunity to review this brand new Wild Guide from Princeton Press. Those of you that know me know I have a passion for wildlife and photography; in particular butterflies and moths. I spend many hours taking photos of these amazing insects.

But what I do lack is being able to ID my moths correctly as we have 2,500 species, including 1,600 so-called micro moths in Britain and Ireland alone.

We have more than twice the number of day flying moths than we do butterflies and this books concentrates on those we are likely to see throughout the day.

I have a few butterfly ID books which carry a few species of moths but nothing consise or detailed enough to ID correctly.


This concise photographic field guide will help you identify any of the 100 or so day-flying moths found in Britain and Ireland. Combining stunning photographs, authoritative text, and an easy-to-use design, this book makes a perfect traveling companion–one that will increase your enjoyment of these colorful and intriguing creatures. Like butterflies, some moths fly regularly in sunshine, whereas others that usually fly only at night are readily disturbed from their resting places during the day. This guide describes all of these species, with at least one photograph of each in its natural, resting pose. The text includes a brief description of each moth, with details of its life history, where and when to look for it, its status, the food plants of its caterpillars, and its special features. Introductory sections cover many topics, including how to distinguish moths from butterflies; classification; life cycle and behavior; ecological importance; the impact of habitat and climate change; recording and monitoring; and conservation.

  • Individual accounts for some 100 species
  • Stunning photographs of every moth, as you see them
  • Attractive, easy-to-use, and accessible design

Britains Day-flying Moths is one of the best Moth books I have ever read; David Newland, Robert Still and Andy Swash have created another stunning extremely well written and well researched ID book.

The book is divided up into easy to read sections right from the life cycle of a moth, moth biology (which really is a fascinating read). Right through to where to find them and how they are named and what plants to grow in your garden to attract them. Along side this detailed technical information it is accompanied by 320 gorgeous photos to help easily ID your moth.

Just to be clear though in the wording “Day-flying Moths” it is clear some species are definitely day-flying; but many can get disturbed accidentally making it difficult to compile a full list of day- flying moths out of the 2500 species of all moths in Britain and Ireland.

133 species of macro-moths are regarded as dayflyers, but being so very small they are often hard to ID; so only 22 species are included within the book; those which are more likely to be seen.

So within these gorgeous pages you will find 155 species of day flying moths those of which you are more likely to spot on your nature travels.

The moth species are divided up into eight sections within the book, one for each of the broad groups of day flying moths;

  1. Foresters and Burnets,
  2. Clearwings,
  3. Eggars, Emporors, Kentish glory and Hooktips,
  4. Geometrids,
  5. Hawk Moths,
  6. Tussocks, Footmen, Tigers and Ermines,
  7. Noctuids,
  8. Micro-moths.


  At the beginning of each of these is a fascinating section about these species. here is a peek at the Hawk Moth section; showing the beautiful detailed images. Hey Im not giving it all away you really need to see for yourself..


The ID section is along the same lines as the other Princeton WILDguides if your familiar with those; in that they are easy to read but still offer detailed info.

One page is devoted to each species and is extremely comprehensive showing a large high quality photograph and;

  • Adult ID and special markings of both male and female.
  • Where found,
  • When flying,
  • Forewing length,
  • Laval food plant,
  • Similar species,
  • Behavior where relevant,
  • Breeding habitat,


A clever touch is a vertical line in the top lefthand side corner for every species mentioned; showing you a visible example on how long its forewing actually is.

The large, clear maps give you an instant display on where that moth can be seen in the country.

The photos within the book are high quality and stunning from many photographers, you get to see a detailed large main image of the moth resting and in some cases more showing you different colourations that species may have.

There are easy to read charts simplifying food and laval plants of every species mentioned.

 Another chart shown here is so easy to read and sums up briefly the many species mentioned;

  • their latin name,
  • preferred habitat,
  • flight season,
  • main laval foodplant and
  • conservation status.

I found these charts easy to read and understand, without having to wade through the book to find each species. But the option is there if you want to know more about your moth is to go to its own detailed species page.


As with all WILDguides there is a section on conservation and legislation as many of these moths are sadly a subject of conservation concerns and lists those that are rare. It then goes into detail about biodiversity action plans and legislation set out to protect these gorgeous insects. Plus details on the Butterfly and moth conservation society and how to record and monitor your moths with useful websites and further reading if you wish to get more active with your hobby.


This has to be THE BEST book on moths in the market at this time. Its detailed comprehensive with stunning images, well composed pages and chapters. Its easy to read for those starting within the hobby or those more advanced that want as much information as possible on moths and different species.

I found the information fascinating and interesting but it doesn’t drown you in scientific talk and is easy to read with charts that enable you to lookup details of your moth quickly when you want to; down to full page detailed descriptions when you want more.

This helpful WILDguide will take you through ID-ing your moth to where to find it and what it feeds on, right down to what plants to put in your garden to help with conservation; it has something for everyone at every level of interest.

  Blood vein

I have used this book every week since it arrived and its helped me ID many of my own photographs that have sat on my hard drive for a few years; finally they have a name. In particular this beautiful Blood Vein I took a few years ago; that I hadnt been able to ID until now.

This gorgeous book will make a brilliant gift for any wildlife photographer, insect and wildlife lover, they will appreciate the work that has gone into the making of this comprehensive, stunning book. It has excellent quality glossy pages and I loved that it arrived with a heavy duty plastic sleeve perfect for out and about.

All you could want in one beautifully photographed affordable field guide.

About the Author

David Newland is the author of “Discover Butterflies in Britain” and the coauthor of “Britain’s Butterflies”. Robert Still, the cofounder of WILD”Guides”, has designed more than thirty of its titles, and is the coauthor of “Britain’s Butterflies” and “Britain’s Sea Mammals”. Andy Swash, the managing director of WILD”Guides”, is the coauthor of “Britain’s Butterflies” and “Britain’s Dragonflies” (all WILD”Guides”). 


Publisher Princeton press (22 September 2013)


224 pages,

322 colour photos,

Buy your copy from Amazon UK


Help save the butterflies, moths and the environment!

Buying this book supports The Butterfly Conservation

All my thanks goes to Princeton press for sending me this gorgeous book for this review. All my opinions and views are my own.


Review coming soon

 from Princeton Press

 Please see my full photo review below on David Newlands other stunning book on butterflies.

 Plus book reviews coming soon from my own Natural History library.


 Britains Dragonflies 


Plus many more I already own coming soon.

Britains Butterflies by David Newland and Robert Still – Book Review


Britains Butterflies

A field guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Ireland

By David Newland and Robert Still with David Tomlinson and Andy Swash

Those that know me know I have a passion for wildlife and especially the bug kind, with a love of Butterflies, Bees and Dragonflies. I have been taking butterfly photos for many years and its almost an addiction for me to capture as many photos as possible and this year has been the best yet with literally hundreds of butterflies visiting my garden, its been really special. But of course I have really needed a good ID guide to make sure I ID my butterflies correctly.

I was lucky enough to receive the second edition of Britains Butterflies one of the Wild Guides series for this review; from the lovely people of  Princeton University press


I have collected a few ID books over the years and I have been using these to ID all my photography. I also have several butterfly ID books but nothing compares to Britain’s Butterflies which is a completely revised second edition covering the ID of all 59 species that currently breed, 4 former breeders, 9 rare immigrants and 1 species of unknown status.


 Britains Dragonflies (review coming soon)

I have one other book from the Wild guide series and that’s also brilliant, both guides offer stunning well detailed and well composed images taken by obviously brilliant photographers.

Front and back

British Butterflies has to be one of the BEST Butterfly ID books I have seen. This gorgeous book takes you through Butterfly biology and life-cycle with easy to read and understand diagrams and photos. Explanations of hibernation, migration, plus a thorough introduction to finding British butterfly habitats showing named areas in Britain to travel to see certain species. A real plus for me who enjoys nothing but looking and photographing these beautiful insects.

I have to stress this isn’t just an ID book its a fascinating insight to the complete life of a butterfly, showing how each species can be quite different in so many ways to the next, this really is a fascinating read for those of us who love these stunning insects.

 This book is so beautifully put together and you can clearly see the work and effort involved, the Author David Newland has spent since 2003 trying to photograph every species of butterfly in Britain and he has achieved this and more; including some unusual aberrations and rare species to form the most informative and user friendly field guide Ive seen yet.


The ID section on each species of British butterfly is extremely comprehensive showing

  • Adult ID and special markings a detailed explanation of both male and female forms,
  • Behaviour – where relevant,
  • Breeding habitat – Summary of habitat preferences,
  • Population and Conservation – where to find that species and/or if they need conservation,
  • Egg, caterpillar and chrysalis – Brief description and measurements of each stage.

This is on the left side of the page, the opposite page has stunning images to show you male and female forms plus different colourations, wings open and closed. So many books don’t show you both, most butterflies look completely different depending on wings open or closed. The book clearly shows the differences. Its just beautiful to flick through for those that just want to ID your butterfly as well as those like me who want to know all about that species.


I couldnt resist adding my own image of this Small Tortoiseshell on my Budlea over the accompanying page of the book. It was a real chance shot.

Not photoshopped, that would have been easier 😉

Something that has been missing from most of my butterfly books is caterpillar ID’s so when I found there were not just the caterpillars, but the eggs…and….the Chrysalis’s too this made my day.


 Detailed Chrysalis pages.


There is also another section just on which food plants both butterfly and caterpillar enjoy so you can not only go out and try and find them; but grow the plants in your garden to attract them for next year.


 I couldn’t resist trying to get the butterfly near the page, this little guy was quite obliging.


There are so many butterfly books on the market but this has to be THE best book on British butterflies you can get in my opinion. You not only get to ID your butterfly with excellent clear images, but you get to learn about it with easy to understand well composed pages and chapters. There are some computer generated images to show the species in a better background but even these have been seamlessly done. From beginner to advanced if you love butterflies what are you waiting for, you need this book and Im sure anyone will really appreciate and enjoy the amount of information on each species.

I have used or looked at this book everyday since receiving this it; I love it as I really appreciate the work that goes into capturing these little guys on camera being a wildlife photographer myself, they are generally quite camera shy.

There are 558 stunning colour photos within this comprehensive guide but for me it was not only the gorgeous images of the butterflies but the detailed info on the eggs, caterpillars and chrysalis’s that makes this guide stand way above the rest.


This gorgeous guide will be a perfect gift for the budding wildlife photographer or butterfly lover because of the depth of information. With extra information on where to go to watch or photograph certain species throughout the UK this book is light enough to take anywhere. It has excellent quality glossy pages and I was really surprised to find it has a heavy duty plastic sleeve; perfect for being out and about. Wow what a fantastic book, this is what I’ve been after for years!!!

All you could want in one beautifully photographed affordable guide book.

About the Author

David Newland has been a butterfly enthusiast since boyhood. He is the author of WILD Guides “Discover Butterflies” in Britain. Robert Still is WILD Guides publishing director. A qualified ecologist, he spends his time designing books and leaflets to publicize the natural world. When time allows, he travels the world in search of butterflies, cetaceans, and birds.

Published 2010

ISBN 9781903657300

224 pages,

558 colour photos,

 Get your own copy of Britains Butterflies

By David Newland and Robert Still



Help save the butterflies, moths and the environment!

Buying this book supports The Butterfly Conservation

All my thanks goes to Princeton press for sending me this gorgeous book for this review.

All my opinions and views are my own.


 Natural History Book Reviews coming soon

Another from the same Authors

Published September 2013

 Britains day Flying Authors

Plus book reviews from my own library.