This is the second of the “New Naturalist” series that I have bought and studied, and both have been really excellent books. (My first was “Bird Populations” by Ian Newton, which I have also reviewed here on Amazon.)
The book is both interesting and beautiful – just like the terns it covers, in fact. Indeed, the book made me think of the view of the great nineteenth century scientist Alexander von Humboldt, that nature can and should be both studied scientifically AND appreciated aesthetically.
The text is very well written and informative, explaining the ornithology/science in terms that a layperson can follow. The book is also packed with lots of brilliant photographs which illustrate the behaviour of the birds. (I’m talking about the hardback edition – I don’t know what they would look like on Kindle.)
There are chapters on terns in general, covering food, breeding biology, migration, conservation etc. And then there are also separate chapters on each of the tern species that breeds in Britain and Ireland.
I found it particularly interesting to read explanations of the behaviour that I have actually seen in the wild. “Plunge-diving” is one example of this. Another is the close view I got recently on Inner Farne of a male Arctic Tern bringing a fish to its female partner, in the pre-egg-laying period, on the nest site they had settled on in preparation for producing and raising young.
In relation to conservation, it is worrying to read that several species of tern could end up on the endangered list if it were not for the fact that they are “on life-support systems” – that is, that their breeding colonies are under protective management.
If you enjoy watching terns and want to learn more about their lives and behaviour, you’ll love this book.
As a non-bird expert I find this book along with the other bird ones are written in a language which makes the topics very understandable. It is quite amazing that standards are maintained at the 123rd issue!.