6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Text and photographs of equally high quality, and astonishingly good value,
This review is from: The Natural History of Ulster (Hardcover)This is a substantial volume of over 600 almost-A4 pages, but it carries its deep scholarship lightly. It could almost be treated as a 'coffee-table book' but the text is so readable and full of detail, both of wildlife and of places, that it repays careful attention.
Each chapter has text contributed by a specialist, describing the origins and wildlife of each major habitat in Ulster: fields and farmland; woodlands; lowland bogs; upland bogs and mountains; lakes and rivers; seas and seashores; coast and islands; and urban and industrial habitats. There are additional chapters on the geology; a fascinating historical review of northern Irish naturalists; and a thoughtful ecological essay on the future of nature. One surprising and enjoyable addition, rarely seen in general natural histories, is a 30-page review of nature in the poetry of Ulster, providing an informative historical context for the renowned recent verse of Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley, and some unfamiliar modern writers too.
Each chapter can be enjoyably read as an essay on its own, but the chapters tie together to provide a clear and integrated picture of a neglected area whose wildlife is as appealing as that of the Scottish Highlands, the Welsh Mountains,the New Forest or the Peak District, but without the attendant crowds.
The element of the book which strikes the reader first, and which leaves the most lasting impression, is the photographs. Most are by Robert Thompson, one of the most painstaking and self-critical of leading wildlife photographers. They are pin-sharp, beautifully composed, and mostly very well printed (only the occasional reddish caste to some of the blues), and chosen carefully to complement the content of each chapter. And although birds, butterflies and wild flowers are well represented, there are plenty of less familiar species, from lichens and fungi to cave spiders and jellyfish
For such a large and lavish volume, the published price of £25 is extremely good value, and finding it on Amazon for £18 or less is breathtaking. The book is sponsored by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and the Heritage Council, and published by National Museums Northern Ireland. If it is intended to boost tourism to Ulster, it will surely succeed - it provides a wealth of temptations for any naturalist, and enough detail to plan the itineraries for several holidays. If you have even a passing interest in nature or in Ulster, buy it.