on 4 October 2008
I would agree with the published reviews from Biology (see above). This is an excellent work, with the enthusiasm that the author obviously has for this subject exuding from every page. The species and subspecies listed represent all of the current known species, with clear photographs that show the insect with wings folded down and up, allowing ease of identification. The text is concise and allows a good grasp of the natural history for each species, including sites where the butterflies can be seen in the wild.
I would recommend this title for those with an amateur interest in the butterflies of Britain and Ireland, but there is also a lot of information that professionals will find useful too. It is not a dry read and the quality of the images, the text, and the price set this above the rest of the similar titles available.
on 8 May 2010
This is the best and most interesting butterfly book I have read for while covering not only the main species but also sub species, the places and times where and when they fly, ample accurate photographs of the detail upper and under sides of wings to aid identification and actual sites with directions.
Adrian Riley has even included photos of the habitats which give you an idea of the sort of country where you might expect or hope to see them fly. I was so impressed with this book that I bought a second for a butterfly enthusiast friend who would rarely give praise to a mere book. Yet even he agrees it is the most useful and accurate either of us has yet come across. The author has resisted the temptation, all too easy a trap for the more academically inclined, to add so much detail that you require a companion sherpa in order to carry it in the countryside. This was intended to be a field guide and succeeds in that aim. You can pack it easily in your rucksack together with the rest of your equipment. Promoted by no less an organisation than Butterfly Conservation, this book will suit the occasional butterfly observer who simply enjoys the countryside or the seriously geeky photographer like me.
If you are looking for your first butterfly book look no further.
on 31 August 2008
I suspect that this book has fallen between two stools or that it has suffered over-extensive editing. There are some useful aspects but also, unfortunately, significant omissions and errors.
In general, the treatment of forms etc is superficial and I was left disappointed that an opportunity has been missed to properly cover a neglected area. The description of forms is very lightweight with no comparative diagrams or sketch maps and the photographs are aesthetic rather than scientific or even comparative. To read the book, one thinks time and again about points that should have been included. It would have been so much better to have extended Thomson's (1980) excellent but geographically-restricted treatment. Perhaps this was due to extensive editing to keep the cost down or to maintain appeal to an audience of beginners but a much more rigorous treatment would have well justified the additional cost. The invention of new common names for the forms is a moot point but I personally found it very distracting and confusing.
I ordered this book as soon as I saw its title but if I'd had opportunity to see it first I doubt I would have bought it.