This brand new guide is now the top guide to the Odonata of Europe. It covers the 120 species found in Europe, plus 40 more from western Turkey, Cyprus, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Azores, Canaries and Madeira. The key attraction, for me at least, is the plates by Richard Lewington. We have come to expect the very highest standards from this artist and we are certainly not disappointed here, either by technical prowess or aesthetic impact. The text is firm, concise and authoritative too.
The guide begins with preliminary chapters such as 22 pages of introduction to identification of sub-orders, families and genera and a handy 28 page regional guide to the best sites for observing Odonata written by Europe's leading experts.
The body of the guide is organised as follows. Each genus is treated to an Identification section covering diagnosis, separation from other genera, separation of the species, and behaviour. A similar identification section is devoted to each species, this time comprising a general statement, field characters, hand characters, variation, and behaviour. The general statement is helpful for the beginner. For example, the text for Anax imperator reads "A common and conspicuous dragonfly of African origin, which only recently has colonised large parts of northern Europe. Patrolling males are easily recognised by their size, unmarked green thorax and blue abdomen with a black mid-dorsal stripe." Identification is followed by a section on Occurrence: range & status, habitat, flight season. The range is plotted on a large, clear map some 5.5 cm square.
Nearly 1000 large, annotated, full-colour illustrations depict males, females and any variation. Annotated pointers draw the reader's attention to key identification marks. Line drawings and monochrome sketches depict further critical detail such as genitalia. Each species is usually afforded a photograph too.
Note that the identification of larvae and exuviae - an entirely different proposition - is not covered by this guide.
This book is essential to anyone interested in dragonflies. It will become the standard guide for European dragonflies and of key relevance to the observer in Britain too.