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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Guide to Garden Wildlife

I mentioned a while back that the excellent British Wildlife Publishing had a new book out Guide to Garden Wildlife by Richard Lewington.

I now have a copy and can shar with you some brief thoughts. The book sets out to enable us to identify more than 500 species likly to be found in our gardens (from Hegehogs to Hoverflies) and to better appreciate the wildlife that shares our most immediate environment.

The book is brilliantly illustrated by Richard Lewington with excellent bird illustrations by Ian Lewington. Each section has a good introduction. There is an excellent introduction by Ken Thompson (author of no nettles required) and also tips on wildlife gardening and creating a garden pond.

The problem, no reservation, I have with this book is from Ken Thompson introduction.
Thompson recounts the story of Jennifer Owne who for 30 years has been documenting the wildlife of her unremarkable suburban garden in Leicester. After 15 years she reported her findings in a book "The Ecology of a Garden the first 15 years".

At first her findings don't seem that amazing, three species of amphibians, 6 mammals and 50 species of birds. But she had 1602 species of insect plus 121 further invertebrates. She had over a third of the British list for butterflies and hoverflies and almost half the list for harvestmen ! And she didn't attempt to count all the species of insects! Thompson comments that her garden is not dramatically inferior to Monk's Wood Nature reserve (and in bees superior).

Now you will note that if a typical garden can throw up that volume of species how useful can a book with just 500 be for identification purposes? Actually not bad, it will help you identify many common species and will give you pointers as to the family of insect even if you can't identify it exactly. That at least will narrow down the search in more detailed reference books (listed in the Bibliography).

To me this book is a nice overview providing an introduction to a more detailed world.

5 comments:

Toffeeapple said...

My copy has arrived too, though I haven't yet had a chance to do more than glance through it.

I'm rather taken with the illustrations and look forward to reading more at the weekend.

Thanks for letting me know about the publication!

oldcrow61 said...

Sounds like a very interesting book to me.

Tricia said...

Sounds an informative book. Many a time I've tried to identify something in the garden and often unsuccessfully, as normally many books are needed to cover all eventualities.

st said...

guess what i'm buying at the weekend.

st said...

OH, No Nettles Required, is an excellent book