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Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland Paperback – 31 May 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 444 pages
  • Publisher: British Wildlife Publishing Ltd; 2nd edition edition (31 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0953139980
  • ISBN-13: 978-0953139989
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 2.8 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Martin Townsend has had a life-long interest in natural history, and started specialising in Lepidoptera at the age of ten. He works as a consultant ecologist, concentrating on insects and other invertebrates, with Lepidoptera as his main field of expertise. He graduated with a BSc in Zoology from the University of Aberdeen in 1985, and since then has worked in ecological research and conservation, including work for IACR Rothamsted, Oxford University Department of Zoology and the RSPB. He has published a number of research papers and articles and has been an independent consultant since 1998, carrying out site surveys for conservation bodies and other landowners. He is based in Oxford.
Paul Waring was born in the New Forest, Hampshire. A schoolboy interest in caterpillars led ultimately to Honours Zoology at the University of Oxford and a PhD on the impact of woodland management on the moth fauna of Bernwood Forest. Since 1987, Paul has worked full-time on moth conservation in Britain, both within the government conservation agencies and as a freelance, as well as mothing elsewhere throughout the world. He is based in Peterborough, and has authored over 1,000 papers and reports in scientific journals, including a regular report on moths in British Wildlife for the last 20 years.


Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
I first became interested in moths in the mid-seventies, when identification was via the 2-volume Richard South publication in Warne's Wayside & Woodland series - first published in 1907. When I resumed my interest quite recently, Skinner's guide, published in 1984 with its much friendlier layout, had superseded South's. Both of these books required the moths to be identified from photographs of set specimens, and this made many of the less distinctive species difficult to identify, without similarly killing and setting the specimen and even then, the reproduction of the plates or the condition of the specimen used, made this sometimes doubtful. This new book contains precisely painted illustrations of all the "macro" moths recorded in Britain and Ireland, in their natural resting postures, enabling identification without killing or other manipulation of the moth. It is easy to peruse the plates and eliminate those that are simply the wrong shape or size and also to see readily, the shape and distribution of the key patterns of the wings. Occasionally other key points are illustrated, where these help , such as the hindwing of the Alchymist. Where variation exists within a species, this is illustrated too. The plates and the text are easily cross-referenced, with the exception within the text of the reference to similar species, where plate numbers would have helped.
For each species there are notes on Field Characters, Similar Species (features sadly missing from the Skinner guide), Habitat, and Status & Distribution (amongst others). After 2 days use, I am confidently identifying the smaller and less distinctive noctuids, with great confidence, where previously the guide(s) available were inadequate for this.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I started mothing I learnt identification from the Skinner volume. As has been said in other reviews Skinner gives no help in the text to sort the moths out. What is more, although the moths are photographed the reproduction is not good so details are lost along with your temper.
The book by Waring et al sorts a lot of this out as the paintings done by Richard Lewington are superb. The moths sit as you see them and shape is a large factor in identification. The text helps a great deal too telling you the important points to look for in identification. It also supplies details on range, emergence time and how common they are all of which help a lot during use.
The layout of the moths through the book follows that given in the British checklist. This is identical to that in other books so moving from one volume to another is easy if confirmation is required. It is also a handbook so it will fit in your pocket.
There are one or two problems. The first is the layout of the book. The pictures are not scattered through the book along with text relevant to each species, they are provided in four groups. Immediately you have trouble finding the pictures. I have ended up marking the site of the pictures with tabs of insulating tape just so that I can locate them. Then starting from a picture of moth, is the text for that species positioned in front or later in the book? Could be either. This may sound silly but time is precious when the moth may disappear any scond! If you are going to group the pictures, I think putting them all in a single group, at the back of the book makes far more sense.
Second for many species the text supplies "similar species". This is a good idea but some of the "similar species" do not look similar at all!
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By A Customer on 12 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback
This book was a complete treasure to find. Having only started my interest in Moths just over a year ago I had only been able to find books with insufficient information or one's that were too technical. The Moths of the British Isles by Bernard Skinner is an excellent book but too technical for a beginner and how often do you see moths with their wings spread out as in the images he gives for identification. With the Field Guide to Moths of Great Britain and Ireland the authors have been able to demonstrate what the moths would look like in different natural positions and described what I should be looking for in straight forward terms. It is an excellent reference book for beginners and the more experienced and is well worth reading. Well done I hope they go on to write other wildlife books in this format as I shall be in the queue to buy them.
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Format: Paperback
I became interested in moths a few years ago, casually observing them at the kitchen window on summer nights.
As my interest developed, I went to a moth walk, and then decided to buy a book.
Moth identification is daunting for beginners, with so many species, some almost identical in appearance. This book is the most straightforward guide available.
It avoids the use of over-technical language and is immediately usable and readable.
Containing over 800 species, it is also comprehensive. Another good point is that it fully includes Ireland, so can be used by Irish naturalist like me, too.
Although it is quite expensive, it is worth it if you are keen on moths.
And best of all, the illustrations are superb - just look at the hawkmoth plates!
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