BOOK REVIEW

British Wildlife: The Essential Beginner's Guide British Wildlife: The Essential Beginner's Guide
pub. HarperCollins, 2002
Paperback, 512 pages, 12.99
ISBN 0 00 713716 8

This is one of those basic informative books that is aimed at 'Jo Public' or 'the man in the street' and it accomplishes this well. As the introductory piece says: 'The book is intended to be taken out into the field, either in a pocket or on the dashboard or parcel shelf of a car.''

The guide covers around 500 species of flora and fauna that most readers are likely to encounter in Britain - Birds, Wild Flowers, Trees, Mammals, Insects, Mushrooms and Toadstools, Butterflies and Moths, Amphibians and Reptiles, and Fish (freshwater only, it should be added).

Every species listed has a single page devoted to it, which provides a 'calendar bar' indicating the months something can be seen, and ID Fact File giving physical species details, plus a small text write-up about each species and a photograph. In some cases the reader is provided with additional pictorial details such as species distribution maps, winter or summer plumage alternatives to the photographs of birds, and leaf and tree outline details.

Actually the photograph of a specimen of Garlic Mustard - otherwise known as Jack-by-the-Hedge - is one of the best picture examples seen by this reviewer in a review book, although one or two other plant specimens fare less well (Amphibious Bistort and Ivy being two such examples).

Bottom line...
13 may seem a lot for a plastic-jacketed paperback, but with 500+ mainly well illustrated pages (given the comments above) this Guide is well worth the money for individuals or families taking their first steps in discovering the delights of Britain's wildlife. Although by no means comprehensive in its coverage of Britain's flora and fauna [you will not find in-depth information on anything whatsoever], there should be enough to help every would-be naturalist identify many species. In short, a good starter if you have aspirations is discovering more about the natural world on Britain's shores.

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