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I have always been into british nature, since a little child I have enjoyed long walks in the country and looking out for animals and birds. My parents used to own a book which covered all of the british wildlife, but when I moved out to my flat I decided I wanted to own my own wildlife book to refer to. I spotted this in The Works in my local town. It looked perfect, and I am glad I purchased it.
The Book states it should cost £14.99, but I only paid £4.99. I think its worth the full RRP, but if you can find it cheaper then its worth looking around. Because the publisher is Collins I feel that paying £15 would be acceptable as it is a well respected publisher.
The book contains over 300 pages full of british wildlife. The animals it shows are split into chapters such as birds, mammals etc. The book shows pictures of the animals and explains briefly there features and what too look out for, The desciption also talks about feeding habbits. The information is factual and expands basic knowledge of creatures you may see everyday.
The chapters of the book include more than just animals, it also shows plants and Fungi. I love the detail the book goes into, every page is packed full of information and images which make the book enjoyable.
Any age can enjoy wildlife and that is why this book can suit any household, the images are exciting and will entertain any child. It is an adult book though and the detail makes it stimulating for older minds.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys nature and wants to learn a little more. Its great to have in your house as you can identify the animals that you have in your garden and also you can learn more about the countryside and the plants we see everyday. I think its great to know more about the world around you! This book gets 5 stars from me, its perfect!
I have always been interested in wildlife, probably because I grew up living in or near the countryside. However, since I got my allotment and started working as a gardening trainee, my interest has really grown. I felt confident at recognising most birds and mammals that I see, but time spent delving in the undergrowth taught me how little I knew about the smaller creatures such as insects and butterflies. I used to think there was only one type of bumble bee, until I came face to face with several kinds! I decided that I needed an up- to-date field guide to wildlife. I considered numerous different titles, before settling on the one I am reviewing today - Collins Complete Guide To Garden Wildlife.
WHY THIS BOOK?
I initially was going to buy a book on insects, and one on butterflies. When looking through a few general natural history books though, I felt that my knowledge of trees was also lacking. Then I felt that my books on foraging didn't cover all the wildflowers I see, just the edible ones. Buying individual guides to all these subjects would have added up a lot in price. I was attracted straight away to the Collins guide because it covers all those areas, and more, in the one volume. There is also a guide to general British wildlife published by the same company, but I selected the garden specific varient because that is the environment I would mostly be using the book in. The other title covers habitats such as mountains and moorland that I wouldn't come across often so I felt it would be less useful.
The sub-title of the book is "a photographic guide to every common species", and that is exactly what it is. The emphasis is on species that are the most likely to venture in to gardens. I did at first worry that this would mean that if I came across anything less common, the book would be useless to me. I haven't actually found anything in the garden or allotment that I couldn't identify from this book though. On the other hand, I have had to refer to other guides to identify a woodland specific wild flower, and a coastal dwelling bird or two. This isn't surprising considering the book is only intended to cover garden wildlife. If you want a book to use mainly in the open countryside, then this probably isn't the most comprehensive choice you could make.
There are sections covering birds, mammals, insects, butterflies, moths, spiders, fungi, flowers, trees, pondlife and reptiles. Every species comes with a full colour and very attractive photo. They are a good size, and clearly have been chosen carefully to aid indentification. I like the fact that many birds are pictured both in flight and at rest for example, and you will also see pictures of juveniles where they look much different from the adults. The wildflowers generally come with both pictures of the flowers, and a close up of the leaves. When I was looking for a book on foraging, I noticed that many books show only a plant in bloom even if it only flowers for a short period. This makes those photos next to useless for indentification purposes at other times of the year. So I was happy to see this book takes a different approach.
There are also brief sections on how to make your garden more wildlife friendly, which includes information on feeding birds for example and instructions for building a pond. My neighbour appreciated the specific advice given here on what size to make the opening of a nesting box to attract different species.
HOW I HAVE USED THE BOOK
Each entry contains the basic information you would expect about the animal concerned, such as when they can be seen in this country if they are migrants, and a description of their appearance and call/song. The plants and trees included have been selected because they are native species that find their way into gardens - often as weeds! You will find out when they flower and fruit, and how widespread they are. I found these parts quite interesting, but my favourite elements are the guides to animal tracks and other signs you may find once an animal has long gone. I loved being able to identify the animals that visit my allotment at night - so far I have found prints of foxes and badgers. It makes me smile when I see how they use the paths between beds, rather than walking across them. I have also liked being able to tell what species certain birds eggs belong to. The book doesn't encourage nest disturbance of course, rather it helps you identify any remains that you find on the ground.
Also very enjoyable is the part that gives tailored advice on how to encourage that particular species to your garden. I used this to help my mum start her own colony of sloworms, which are a type of legless lizard despite their name. I have literally dozens living on my allotment, and my mum wanted some of her own due to their excellent ability to eat slugs and snails. We set up a shelter as recommended in the book, and within a couple of months our work had paid off. It is also nice to be able to select food for the birds you see in your garden, knowing you are giving them what they most enjoy.
Lastly, I have enjoyed expanding my knowledge of "bugs". I had no idea how many there are. I did an insect survey for a local charity, using this book as my guide, and the clear pictures made it both interesting and easy. Arachnophobes should be aware that the spider photos are larger than life, and spare no hairy legged detail!
WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK?
I did initially wonder whether the book would be worth it's £16.99 cover price, especially as it is a paperback. I am now sure it is worth every penny. It is an excellent spotters guide, being well presented and beautifully illustrated. It looks so attractive that I sometimes just browse through it a home, looking for flora and fauna I hope to see one day. I would recommend it to anyone who wants an all-in-one volume to wildlife. It is perfect for those who like to put a name to the creatures we see as we garden. As mentioned above, it isn't intended for use on country walks, or in wilder habitats, so it is worth remembering the "garden" part of the title. Being the size of a chunkly paperback novel also means it couldn't really be called a pocket friendly sized guide. For it's intended use though, it is perfect, and well worth the price. It is a book I have use constantly for 18 months or so, and one I expect to use for years to come.
Published 2010, Collins.
£16.99, but available for a slight discount on Amazon for new copies.
[This review also appears on Ciao under my user name.]