on 27 October 2009
Difficult to fault. As someone who prefers good quality artworks to photographs in identification guides, I must admit that these photos could not be bettered. If anything, the book almost suffers from an overdose of them. I have never seen such a 'picture heavy' guide, but that's no bad thing. Aside from New Naturalists, there doesn't seem to have been a guide devoted solely to the British fauna in living memory, presumably due to the difficulty of producing a meaningful book covering so few species. And yet Howard Inns has done it, filling 160 or so pages without ever resorting to padding or waffle. Perhaps this explains the number of pictures. The marine turtles, and Channel Isles species such as the agile frog are given fuller treatment here than in the New Naturalist volumes too.
Trying hard to find something to nitpick, I am disappointed that in amongst all the pictures of sand lizards there isn't a single one of a non-breeding male. Perhaps the differences in throat / belly markings between the smooth and palmate newts are not always as clear cut as the guide suggests? And why are the smooth and palmate newts separated by the great created? And finally, while the plastic jacket is a nice touch, its not actually going to stop the book turning to pulp if you drop it in a pond.
All pretty trivial criticisms though. This really is an excellent guide.
on 3 November 2009
For several years now, WILDGuides have been setting the standard for small, handy field guides that focus mainly on the identification of neglected groups of wildlife. Their approach is characterised by portability, emphasis on visual utility (the use of computer enhanced photographs) and a significant contribution to conservation. The latter is achieved in two ways: firstly by getting these guides into the hands of the public at very competitive prices (WILDGuides is a non-profit publisher) and secondly by donating all profits to conservation organisations that work on the area or organisms treated by each guide.
True to form, WILDGuides' new guide to Britain's Reptiles & Amphibians covers a group that has not received much attention in recent years. But the guide recommends itself not just by simple default: a lot of care has clearly gone into ensuring that this will be the definitive guide for years to come. To begin with, all Britain's species are included: thirteen species native to Britain and Ireland, plus five marine turtles (the "native" Leatherback and the four vagrants), six well established non-native species and eight other exotics.
Foremost are the photographs, more than 200 of which handsomely illustrate the introductory chapters as well as the species accounts themselves. Needless to say, the images are of the highest quality. The text matches them, being succinct, informative and authoritative, both on identification features and on natural history. It is heartening to see a strong emphasis on conservation too. WILDGuides' trademark annual activity clocks - a highly effective way of portraying life cycles - and crystal clear, up-to-date distribution maps, complement the text. Preceding the species accounts, a series of summary identification charts compare the characteristics of similar groups of species. And there are some striking comparative images of snake heads, as well as photographs of the sloughed skin of reptiles (the latter easily enabling identification by this method). It would be difficult to ask for more.
And since WILDGuides is a non-profit organisation that supports conservation throughout the world, you are helping ensure that the wildlife you enjoy today will still be there for others to enjoy tomorrow. In this case, profits from the book go to the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust.
In sum, this is THE guide to reptiles and amphibians, an essential addition to the naturalist's library. Highly recommended for beginners and experts alike.
Chris Sharpe, 3 November 2009. ISBN-13: 978-1-903657-25-6
on 14 August 2009
This book is the most detailed and well informed of all the British field guides I have read. Inns writes in a style that lends itself to easy understanding managing to make even the most dull of technical detail interesting.
The guide is awash with stunning colour photographs (a marked improvement over even the most detailed of illusrations)and useful pointers on every page that tells you everything you need to know in order to observe and conserve these much maligned yet very attractive members of British fauna!
The guide is well laid out and comes in a protective sleeve, a nice touch for those who take their guides into the field.
My only complaint really is the price, a little hefty but at least its discounted on Amazon.
An essential up to date and complete tome. Recommend!
on 10 July 2010
This book is one which I am very fond of. I thought I knew my way around British Herpetofauna but it seems i've only scraped the barrel!
Fully illustrated with colour photographs of every species written about in the book, the images are of superb quality, showing the details required to identify these magnificent creatures. There are even photographs of the Tadpoles of these species with several size comparisons to boot. There are even photographs of various colour variations which have been noted with the species discussed. There are also photographs of the habitats of several species which is useful too. The distribution maps are easy to understand and there is even an activity map which is superbly handy and very easy to understand also.
The diverse nature of the species is great, I was apprehensive at first - thinking that this book would be a mere pamphlet but I have been proven wrong - gladly. Covering even the Marine Turtles, escapee species and some which are non-native but welle stablished, this is a magnificent and essential little guide.
The text is easy to understand and well written making this book essential for beginner herpers and enthusiasts alike.
on 16 December 2009
This brand-new photographic field quide sets a bench mark of clear informative text and superb quality pictures beautifully reproduced. It is comprehensive, including our 16 native reptiles and amphibians, the 5 marine turtles that visit our shores, 7 established non-natives and a further 8 with a history of release or escape. The soft-back book is well protected by a sturdy plastic cover and is excellent value for money. I cannot find anything to criticise.