Butterflies: Spotting and identifying Britain's butterflies (National Trust Home & Garden) Hardcover – 1 Jun 2011
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About the Author
Matthew Oates is one of the leading countryside advisers at the National Trust and a world expert on butterflies. He has contributed to a number of natural history titles, including The National Trust Book of the Countryside. He lives in Tetbury, Gloucestershire.
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Top customer reviews
Early in the book, Matthew advises, "...no two day's [sic] butterflying are the same." There are (in my 2011 edition anyway) other examples of misplaced or missing apostrophes.
The coloured drawings are, I feel, quaint and the doubled, fold-out pages that they appear on quirky (I'll admit to thinking these pages were stuck together initially!).
Now I'm reasonably new to this butterflying (an accepted verb I understand) caper, but where the brown hairstreak description refers (on page 52) to "...a thin white 'W' " on its undersides; this text surely belongs to the white letter hairstreak...
I also understand (and I have checked more than once) that it's not grammatically correct to give most butterfly species (as is the case with other insects, plants etc.) capital letters - other than when they include usual proper nouns. I've not as yet, come across a publication that doesn't follow the Butterfly Conservation's lead however, other than those from the RSPB who are the notable exception and who also choose not to follow some ornithological groups when referring to bird species (well done them I say). Anyway, back to the book...
I was disappointed to read that, because of deterioration in our vision, our best butterflying years are perhaps behind us at 50. I first 'got into them' aged 57 and a year later my mentor and inspiration is my 86-year-old father-in-law who's just had a cataract operation!
Still, let's end on a positive... I'm grateful to Matthew for his section on photographing butterflies and his advice to use a monopod. This alone has, I believe, improved my technique and enabled me to take what I feel, are very good quality photographs of severaL species, using an old Nikon D80 and an inexpensive, second-hand zoom lens.
Looking for, watching, and indeed photographing butterflies gives me immense pleasure and this little book - despite its foibles noted above by a perhaps, over-pedantic enthusiast - will take its place in my expanding butterfly publication collection.
If you think you've been to a lot of trouble to see a special butterfly read the account of I.R.P. Heslop searching for Large Copper and think again! The book has much to entertain and amuse. And there is good advice too - like tips for beginners and sections on butterfly photography, gardening for butterflies and of course the section on identifying butterflies, which includes behavioural information that helps spot species. Mind you the book is not entirely good reading! Matthew points out that most people's eyesight deteriorates with age so that anyone taking up butterflying after the age of about 50 may have missed their best window of opportunity. He concludes "Sadly butterflies seem to become smaller as one ages"
Apart from that this book will give endless pleasure to readers.
However it is a very insightful resource into the history of 'butterflying' from the expert Matthew Oates. I read it cover to cover and feel I will return back to it again and again during the butterfly season.
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