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Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland Paperback – 31 May 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 444 pages
  • Publisher: British Wildlife Publishing Ltd; 2nd edition edition (31 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0953139980
  • ISBN-13: 978-0953139989
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 2.8 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 87,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Martin Townsend has had a life-long interest in natural history, and started specialising in Lepidoptera at the age of ten. He works as a consultant ecologist, concentrating on insects and other invertebrates, with Lepidoptera as his main field of expertise. He graduated with a BSc in Zoology from the University of Aberdeen in 1985, and since then has worked in ecological research and conservation, including work for IACR Rothamsted, Oxford University Department of Zoology and the RSPB. He has published a number of research papers and articles and has been an independent consultant since 1998, carrying out site surveys for conservation bodies and other landowners. He is based in Oxford.
Paul Waring was born in the New Forest, Hampshire. A schoolboy interest in caterpillars led ultimately to Honours Zoology at the University of Oxford and a PhD on the impact of woodland management on the moth fauna of Bernwood Forest. Since 1987, Paul has worked full-time on moth conservation in Britain, both within the government conservation agencies and as a freelance, as well as mothing elsewhere throughout the world. He is based in Peterborough, and has authored over 1,000 papers and reports in scientific journals, including a regular report on moths in British Wildlife for the last 20 years.

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105 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Neil Pinder on 17 Aug 2003
Format: Paperback
I first became interested in moths in the mid-seventies, when identification was via the 2-volume Richard South publication in Warne's Wayside & Woodland series - first published in 1907. When I resumed my interest quite recently, Skinner's guide, published in 1984 with its much friendlier layout, had superseded South's. Both of these books required the moths to be identified from photographs of set specimens, and this made many of the less distinctive species difficult to identify, without similarly killing and setting the specimen and even then, the reproduction of the plates or the condition of the specimen used, made this sometimes doubtful. This new book contains precisely painted illustrations of all the "macro" moths recorded in Britain and Ireland, in their natural resting postures, enabling identification without killing or other manipulation of the moth. It is easy to peruse the plates and eliminate those that are simply the wrong shape or size and also to see readily, the shape and distribution of the key patterns of the wings. Occasionally other key points are illustrated, where these help , such as the hindwing of the Alchymist. Where variation exists within a species, this is illustrated too. The plates and the text are easily cross-referenced, with the exception within the text of the reference to similar species, where plate numbers would have helped.
For each species there are notes on Field Characters, Similar Species (features sadly missing from the Skinner guide), Habitat, and Status & Distribution (amongst others). After 2 days use, I am confidently identifying the smaller and less distinctive noctuids, with great confidence, where previously the guide(s) available were inadequate for this.
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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful By R. Griffiths on 2 Sep 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I started mothing I learnt identification from the Skinner volume. As has been said in other reviews Skinner gives no help in the text to sort the moths out. What is more, although the moths are photographed the reproduction is not good so details are lost along with your temper.
The book by Waring et al sorts a lot of this out as the paintings done by Richard Lewington are superb. The moths sit as you see them and shape is a large factor in identification. The text helps a great deal too telling you the important points to look for in identification. It also supplies details on range, emergence time and how common they are all of which help a lot during use.
The layout of the moths through the book follows that given in the British checklist. This is identical to that in other books so moving from one volume to another is easy if confirmation is required. It is also a handbook so it will fit in your pocket.
There are one or two problems. The first is the layout of the book. The pictures are not scattered through the book along with text relevant to each species, they are provided in four groups. Immediately you have trouble finding the pictures. I have ended up marking the site of the pictures with tabs of insulating tape just so that I can locate them. Then starting from a picture of moth, is the text for that species positioned in front or later in the book? Could be either. This may sound silly but time is precious when the moth may disappear any scond! If you are going to group the pictures, I think putting them all in a single group, at the back of the book makes far more sense.
Second for many species the text supplies "similar species". This is a good idea but some of the "similar species" do not look similar at all!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ian Thumwood on 2 May 2011
Format: Paperback
As someone who is primarily a birdwatcher, I got into butterflies several years ago after being frustrated at not being able to identify some blues I'd seen at Maiden Castle. This led me to join Butterly Conservation which ultimately got me curious about moths after going to a number of presentations.

This guide only covers the larger, "macro" moths but the identification of these insects must be one of the hardest tasks in natural history. Everyone I asked about the best guide book to buy regarding moths suggested this book. In fact, I don't recall any other guide being recommended. I've had the guide a few years now and must admit that I don't use it quite as frequently as the butterfly guide in the same series which I would similarly recommend. As a heavy, paperback, I don't feel that it is a practical kind of book to take out with me when birdwatching but it always gets used whenever I see a moth in the garden or house that looks unusual. Identiciation can take about 10-15 minutes for someone inexperienced like me. Even then, I am often not too sure although the colourful species are obvious much easier than the little brown numbers!

The book has quite good illustrations as you would expect from Richard Lewington with the guide being split up into the various family of moths. I don't think that all the drawings are as good as in his butterfly guide though. Some of the illiustrations of the Notodontidae moths, for example, are very unclear. By and large, the illustrations are good albeit it lacks annotations to enable you to differ particular species which may be similar. There is information about catipillars, habitat, flight seasons, lavae food and distribution to assist with identification. The written information is often of more benefit than the illustrations.
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