22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 12 April 2013
This is a very comprehensive book and a must have for anybody interested in these small but very interesting insects. You will find in it most of the species that you will see in the field. Although it is essentially an identifying guide, it also gives a lot of information on the life cycle/behaviour of the hoverflies (information that will make you whisper - Gosh! I did not know that!). It also helps you to identify difficult groups by looking at the veins on the wings with crystal clear pictures and comments. There are distribution maps for each species as well as status. The book is not heavy and compact and can be put in a rucksack for field use. I really can't find anything negative about it!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2013
Only about 60% of the 280+ British species of hoverfly are readily identifiable by non-specialists (i.e. without recourse to a microscope and specimen), which goes some way to explaining why hoverflies have not been adopted by birders and nature enthusiasts with the same gusto as dragonflies, butterflies and macro moths. That may be about to change: this outstanding new field guide will almost certainly put hoverflies on the naturalist's radar.
Since 1983, Stubbs and Falk's British Hoverflies: An Illustrated Identification Guide has been the standard guide to British hoverflies. It is the definitive treatment, aimed at the specialist and very keen amateur and is now in its second edition. Size and cost have put it out of reach of the casual observer (like me), who instead relies on Gilbert's Hoverflies (Naturalists' Handbooks) to tentatively name the commoner species.
WILDGuides' Britain's Hoverflies really fills a gap, giving the average naturalist a fighting chance of identifying the majority of species in the field. The book is the same size as previous WILDGuides publications, although more than twice as thick, so it is a true field guide. Its layout, with the plates facing the text, maps and figures makes it entirely fieldworthy - no need to flip back and forth in order to review all the information on a particular species. Following the format of previous WILDGuides, photographs are the main identification tool. A large proportion of the images were taken by Steven Falk - yes, the co-author of the standard work, illustrator of the old Gilbert handbook and administrator of an excellent hoverfly photograph website - and are perfectly engineered to show the field characters required to clinch identification. Often pointers and annotations are used to indicate key field characters. Since the authors are co-organisers of the Hoverfly Recording Scheme, we can be pretty confident of the identity of the subjects - something that cannot be said of some other books and Internet sources.
The facing-pages consist of snappy text which focusses on identification, similar species and observation tips (exactly what is required of a field guide, yet so often left out), together with a distribution map and indicator of flight season. The maps are excellent: large enough to allow the user to pinpoint a location and making use of colour to indicate abundance. The distributional data are derived from the Hoverfly Recording Scheme.
The combination of superb photographs, text and figures makes this one of the most effective identification guides I have used. On top of that, the introductory chapters are exemplary. Packed with fascinating information, even a cursory perusal is enough to make the reader want to get into the field and start using this guide.
In sum, this is one of the best field guides to any taxonomic group. I hope it will set the standard for photographic guides to come. How long before we have similar guides to grasshoppers and bush crickets, bees and wasps, ladybirds, pond life, or even mammals or fungi? All credit to the authors and to the WILDGuides team for giving us this vital new field guide.
Chris Sharpe, 22 August 2013. ISBN-13: 978-0-691-15659-0
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2013
This book is just what was needed to get new people interested in studying/recording hoverflies. The number and quality of the photos are first-class, especially as key characteristics/features are highlighted on them.
There are clear and concise details on the distribution, ecology, phenology etc. of the majority of species, far more than you would expect find from an introduction to a family of insects. This results in a book that is not too large or heavy to take out into the field. It will certainly be an ever-present in my rucksack!
The price is also very affordable, which will mean that it will also be attractive to teenagers and children. Entomology, like most of natural science, needs to engage with the younger generation and this could just be the book to kick start their interest.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2013
Since retireing as a professional biomedical researcher I have returned to my childhood roots of investigating the wonderful diversity of life. I have been gathering easy to use taxonomic guides and this is excellent of the newer photographic type. I find good drawings compliment photographs so ideally guides would contain both. The life history information is fascinating and I have learnt even more extrodinary aspects of insect diversity - there are some nasty critters out there. The keys are very well illustrated and focus on features that do not require any dissection. I can,t help but feel in the days of face recognition software that there should be some way of using a computer based system for identification. This sort of photographic guide is a good starting point for the development of this type of approach. I am not an expert on this group of insects, but for a budding insect spotter this is a very approachable and well organised book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2013
I've been using Stubbs and Falk's standard guide for many years, and have been happy with the keys and descriptions, and really like the superb paintings. This book isn't quite a replacement, as it omits a few of the rarest and those which need a microscope for identification. But this guide is even more approachable. It's so logically laid out, with clear photos of each important feature, that it removes the uncertainties and gives me much greater confidence that I've identified something correctly, or that I don't have enough information to reach a species name. It works very well indeed with specimens of hoverflies, but is also very effective in trying to name photographs. It's also a great aid to working out which photo angles are needed to enable an identification.
A pleasure to use, good to browse through, and a strong incentive to get outside and see more hoverflies.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2013
A very well illustrated and well laid out book. Many interesting facts presented well. Written by two of the leading experts on hoverflies in the UK and you can tell.
i didn't like that Amazon knocked £6 off the price the day after I bought it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2013
The introductory sections concerning the structures of hoverflies and what to focus upon when trying to identify them are exceptionally clear. The close-up photographs illustrate the points made very accurately. The correct anatomical names for insect body parts and structures are used with minimal recourse to over-simplification. That is to be applauded as most modern books assume that the reader is ignorant and incapable of coping with zoological terminology (as in the dragonflies book in this series). There is an excellent glossary to help if you are unfamiliar with the terms. I like the fact that scientific names are used and that the temptation to ascribe meaningless vernacular names has been rejected. It is a first-class publication which will enable the enthusiast to make better and more successful use of Stubbs and Falk.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2013
This is an excellent guide to Britain's Hoverflies, and fully achieves its aims, particularly to help the field naturalist with those species that can be identified in the field without recourse to a microscope. For the remainder, as recommended in this book, you'll need a copy of Stubbs and Falk and access to a microscope.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2013
Fills a real gap, and a pleasure to use. Ideal with book in one hand and binoculars in the other!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2013
Britain's hoverflies is a beautiful, beautiful guide and does the near-impossible: it allows you to identify hoverflies from photographs. Experts used to tell me that this is not possible, you need the scientific keys. The authors, 2 of the leading British hoverfly-experts, must have been fully aware of the fact that there are many like me: non-scientists people with an interest in the, often very pretty, hoverflies, who love taking macro pictures of them.
In their introduction they clearly state the limitation of photography versus collecting specimens and what you can and cannot identify in the field. 165 of the 281 British species are described and photographed - the commonor, most widespread ones are all included.
The photographs are absolutely stunning but not only that, the features needed for id are clearly marked in the photographs or in additional close-up details of diagnostic features like hairs on the compound eyes etc.
A real bonus of this book to me is these excellent detail photographs. These features are often just described in text in the 'proper' keys, which often left me wondering whether or not I was looking at the proper body part at all - there's no confusion any more thanks to this guide.
Not withstanding the arguments other reviewers made to buy this book elsewhere, I'm glad Amazon sells it too, it may bring an interest to hoverflies to a much larger public, which they so deserve. And it could yield more much welcome properly identified hoverfly-records.