on 8 June 2009
Wildfowl is the latest in the New Naturalist series, and is written by David Cabot, who was also the author of the volume on Ireland. Given the interest in ducks, geese and swans it is perhaps surprising that this is the first specialist volume on the group within the series.
The bulk of the book is taken up with a review of 56 species in the UK, comprising native wildfowl plus established escaped species. There are also chapters on wildfowl and people, social behaviour, food and feeding ecology, population dynamics and wildfowl conservation. Identification is not especially well covered, but that is not the purpose of the book, nor indeed of the New Naturalist series.
Has the author risen to his task? Yes, this follows the majority of recent New Naturalists in being readable, and enabling the reader to come away feeling better informed on the subject. Niggles? Yes, a few. Sadly, numbers in the text just refer to endnotes, which then refer on to the bibliography, meaning that double handling is necessary to get to a reference. I had hoped that after the complaints about this system in the volume on Dragonflies the publishers would abandon it, but apparently not. The author has also opted to use international names rather than those familiar in the UK, for example goosander becomes common merganser. Given that this book is aimed at the UK market, I would have preferred the familiar names to be retained. Lastly, although the book is copiously illustrated in colour, many of the plates are either very dark, very contrasty, or both.
These minor niggles apart, this is a fine addition to the series.
on 26 December 2011
An excellent, detailed text that is a must for anyone interested in the diverse group of birds that are ducks, geese and swans. Cabot goes into impressive detail on specific species that are found in the United Kingdom, as well as providing overall descriptions and evaluations (that contain particular emphasising examples) of behaviour, population dynamics and conservation efforts. The book is well laid out and easy to follow; chapter headings are clear and concise and provide a term of reference for what is contained within. Illustrations within the text are helpfully used to describe not only species mentioned, but also such things as behaviours, wildfowl management techniques and maps of species' distribution. Alongside of the natural history of ducks, geese and swans, Cabot explores man's fascination with these species including the aspects of domestication that have given rise to the differing breeds of farmyard duck and geese. The text is full of facts and figures that will help those studying zoology to understand wildfowl biology in more depth, as well as keeping the armchair ornithologist engaged and interested. The hardback version is beautifully presented and hard-wearing. A highly recommended read for academics, field biologists, wildfowl enthusiasts and birdwatchers alike.
on 25 August 2012
Purchased this for my grandson and he uses it almost every weekend is out with me and gran or his mum and dad identifying bugs. He is only six and impresses his teacher and classmates with his knowledge, and shows them the book so hope you get more sales, excellent teaching tool.