“Scotland rocks!” – a customer review of New Naturalist Volume 119: Scotland

Scotland jacket imageNew Naturalist Volume 119: Scotland

Peter Friend

Reviewer: S.W. Mott from the United Kingdom

One-word summary: “Readable”

“The latest volume in this series has been written by Peter Friend and is a review of the rocks and landscapes of Scotland. Collins make it clear that the book is about the rocks, earth history and landscapes of Scotland. The book does not set out to be a comprehensive, all-inclusive survey of Scotland’s natural history – an impossible task to achieve in a single volume. Indeed, for fuller accounts of Scotland’s flora and fauna, weather, environments and habitats, one must refer to earlier volumes in the series – such as Vol 76 The Hebrides, Vol 88 Loch Lomondside, Vol 101 Galloway and the Borders [ed: all unfortunately out of print] and the earlier, now out of date, volumes on Shetland and Orkney. New Naturalist Vol 119 provides a more than adequate overview of the landscapes that shape Scotland and its natural history.

For the geologist there are more detailed and scientific texts available, including the British Geological Survey (BGS) Regional Guides and material from the Geological Society and Scottish Museums. However, where this New Naturalist volume scores is in its organisation, presentation, and collation of material from a variety of sources in a fresh and compelling way. It has been thoroughly researched and meticulously brought together. Peter Friend uses the same format and scaffolding for this new volume as he used in his earlier New Naturalist, Vol 108 Southern England. He makes good use of modern computerised technology to provide effective diagrams, sections and maps to explain the geology and geomorphological processes. No diagram or text figure is too small to read; the aerial photos are carefully selected and add substantially to the understanding of the features described.

The first five chapters are about geological processes and landform development. Chapters 2 and 3 borrow heavily from Vol 108 Southern England. And why not? Processes don’t change north of the border, and Peter Friend applies them to the Scottish setting. The remainder of the book divides Scotland into regions and each chapter follows the same pattern with the sub-headings ‘Stories from the Bedrock’ and ‘Making the Landscape’. This chapter structure works well and is consistently applied, making the book stand out among others by presenting the current state of knowledge and understanding in a logical, approachable and co-ordinated way. The photographs are excellent throughout, add greatly to understanding and their reproduction seems accurate and sharp.

Some assumptions are made – such as of the reader’s familiarity with earth science terminology, although much is explained in the text and the diagrams help enormously. However, I do wonder if a small glossary of earth science terms could have been provided. I also found Dr Friend’s use of the geological stratigraphic term “tertiary ” in its volcanic province context both inconsistent and slightly dated: the Tertiary Volcanic Province is now known as the Palaeogene Volcanic District. Confusingly for the non-geologist reader, Dr Friend refers in “Further Reading” to the BGS Regional Guide “Palaeogene Volcanic Districts of Scotland” by Henry Emeleus; yet in the text, he more often refers to these districts as “Tertiary”. Anyone unaware that these terms are almost synonymous and that Palaeogene is the preferred term, will be at a loss. Indeed, in the Foreword to the BGS Regional Guide, published in 2005, it states “The term ‘tertiary’ is no longer approved”.

As a geologist wanting an overview and a compilation of both geological and geomorphological material, I shall be using this New Naturalist whenever I need to obtain a wider view of Scotland’s complicated earth history or an idea of the surface landscape features of a particular region within the country.

Dr Friend has provided us with a sound piece of writing, imaginatively produced and thoughfully presented. Vol 119 Scotland is a worthy addition to the this long running series.”

Available now from NHBS

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Magnificent Marches – a customer reviews the latest volume in the New Naturalist series

New Naturalist 118: Marches jacket imageNew Naturalist 118: Marches by Andrew Allott


Reviewer: S. W. Mott from the United Kingdom

“Outstanding”

“In the early 1980s, I lived and worked in Gloucester and undertook numerous outings to the Welsh Marches to walk and watch wildlife. So Andrew Allott’s book “Marches” has been eagerly awaited. It is a superb, masterly addition to the New Naturalists series.

Here we have a comprehensive account of the region, which is meticulously researched and thoughtfully detailed. The text includes examples to illustrate the wider context and the themes of the chapters. Mr Allott makes very good use of local sources and resources for much of these, such as the charming reference to the work done by a local primary school (p.75) and other local people, communities and wildlife groups. This is absolutely the right approach as it embeds the book in the region it describes.

The book is well structured; the first chapter invites us to take a “tour” of the region’s main, distinctive topographical areas which serve as a scaffold for the following chapters, whose themes take in the unique and chararcteristic features of the Border landscape arising within the topographical areas. Mr Allott writes in an interesting and flowing style. It is well structured. His attention to detail is woven seamlessly into the overview, the carefully chosen examples serve as fascinating insights into the natural history of the region. The chapters cover the expected themes but include up-to-date analysis and review of nature conservation, farming, land-use changes and local development and management, and outline lessons learned and issues for the future. I found myself thinking that the lessons learned in the Marches region could well be applied elsewhere too!

My only niggles are in the editing of the book. Trying to fit some of the figures on to one page renders some of the detail too small to read (making it almost meaningless), or makes the use of colour-coding difficult to differentiate. There are inconsistencies too: why, for example, provide Figs 16 or 104 with a colour key, yet not Figs 81 and 82? For the latter, the reader has to wade through text which explains the colour. On p41 we have an ambiguous paragraph which, on first reading, makes it seem that a new set of semi-natural squatters have returned to the Clee Hills. I suspect that the word “vegetation” has been omitted after the word “semi-natural”! Perhaps trying to publish three New Naturalist titles a year is having a negative effect on the editing.

These small niggles do not detract very much from this magnificent account of the varied, rich and very distinctive natural history of the Marches. To try to shoe-horn this into any descriptive framework is a challenge and one in which Mr Allott has succeeded – and succeeded triumphantly.”

Available now from NHBS

What do you think of the New Naturalist series? What are your favourite volumes? Feel free to share your feedback by leaving a comment – or to create your own review, click the following link:

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Customer reviews can be read in the ‘Reviews’ tab on each product page and a selection of reviews appears here on the Hoopoe

Book of the Week: New Naturalist #118: Marches

Continuing our selection of the very best titles available through NHBS:

Marches

by Andrew Allott

New Naturalist #118: Marches jacket imageWhat?

From the minutiae of Plant Galls (Volume 117), the next in the New Naturalist series takes us into large-scale regional natural history.

Why?

Andrew Allott takes us on a journey through the Welsh Marches; Cheshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Monmouthshire, the border counties of England and Wales. He traces the various strands that weave together the natural history and deep past of the area with the impact of human civilisation and the growth of agriculture and industry. The well-defined chapter topics bring the area to life to create a whole picture of the region:

From the Author’s Foreword and Acknowledgements:

“The author’s aim has been to explore themes, rather than to catalogue isolated or inconsequential facts. Each chapter takes one theme and considers its relevance across much or all of the Marches.”

The plentiful illustrations, photographs and diagrams complement the natural history making this a full and satisfying survey of the area.

Who?

Andrew Allott studied Botany at Oxford University and then became a schoolmaster, teaching initially in Canterbury and then at Shrewsbury School in Shropshire, where he is now Head of Biology. Although an incomer to the Marches, Andrew Allott has developed a deep love of the landscape, geology, flora and fauna of the area. He has also developed great respect for the many talented amateur naturalists and the professional scientists whose work is doing so much to explain the natural history of the Marches and to promote its conservation.

Available Now from NHBS


 

New Naturalist Bird Migration by Ian Newton – Save £11.00

Ian Newton is the author of numerous ornithological books and scientific papers including the famous New Naturalist Finches (Vol. 55). His recent best-selling titles include: The Migration Ecology of Birds, Population Limitation in Birds and Speciation and Biogeography of Birds. Now Ian returns to Collins New Naturalist series with Volume 113 Bird Migration – this will be published in early April.

About Ian Newton

Ian Newton is the author of numerous ornithological books and scientific papers including the famous New Naturalist Finches (Vol. 55). His recent best-selling titles include: The Migration Ecology of Birds, Population Limitation in Birds and Speciation and Biogeography of Birds. Now Ian returns to Collins New Naturalist series with Volume 113 Bird Migration – this will be published in early April.

About Bird Migration, Vol 113 in the Collins New Naturalist series

Collins New Naturalist Vol. 113 Bird Migration by Ian NewtonThe phenomenon of bird migration has fascinated people from time immemorial. The arrivals and departures of different species marked the seasons, heralding spring and autumn, and providing a reliable calendar long before anything better became available. Migration is shown by many kinds of animals, including butterflies and other insects, mammals, marine turtles and fish, but in none is it as extensively developed as in birds. The collective travel routes of birds span almost the entire globe, with some extreme return journeys covering more than 30,000 km. As a result of migration, bird distributions are continually changing – in regular seasonal patterns, and on local, regional or global scales. Migration has repeatedly prompted familiar questions, such as where birds go or come from, why do they do it, how do they know when and where to travel, and how do they find their way?

In this seminal new book, Ian Newton sets out to answer these – and other – questions. The book is divided into four main sections: the first is introductory, describing the different types of bird movements, methods of study, and the main migration patterns seen around the British Isles; the second part is concerned mainly with the process of migration – with timing, energy needs, weather effects and navigation; the third with evolution and change in migratory behaviour; and the fourth with the geographical and ecological aspects of bird movements.

Pre-order to get your copy first and save £11.00

Other key books on Bird Migration

No Way Home: The Decline of the World’s Great Animal Migrations

How Birds Migrate

Wings and Rings: A History of Bird Migration Studies

Atlas of Bird Migration

The Art of Nature: New Titles at NHBS

The glories of the world’s flora and fauna are captured in this autumn’s new art and photography titles, including Picturing Plants, Art of the New Naturalists, and Living Landscapes.

182590Capturing the Moment is the latest title in the Wildlife Art Series from Langford Press, featuring the work of Raymond Sheppard – a superb wildlife artist and draughtsman.

View internal images from this book

181757

Don’t miss Perry’s Arcana – a rare gem of botanical illustration, first published as a lavishly illustrated magazine series in 1810-1811 and now revived for your browsing pleasure.

View internal images from this book

Browse this autumn’s New Art & Photography Titles

The Latest New Naturalist Volume Is Here – Save 22%


New Naturalist WildfowlVolume #110 in the legendary New Naturalist series has now arrived at NHBS.

Wildfowl provides a much-anticipated overview of the fascinating birds that have become icons of our diminishing wilderness areas.

David Cabot has been obsessed with wildfowl for nearly sixty years; in this seminal new work, he discusses the 56 species of wildfowl that have been recorded either in a natural state, or that have been introduced and now maintain self-sustaining populations in Britain and Ireland.

Order your copy of Wildfowl today – and save £11!

Browse other new Shorebirds and Waterfowl titles

Browse the New Naturalist series

New Naturalist #110: Wildfowl

New Naturalist WildfowlThe latest volume in the classic New Naturalist series, Wildfowl provides a much-anticipated overview of the fascinating birds that have become icons of our diminishing wilderness areas.

David Cabot has been obsessed with wildfowl for nearly sixty years; in this seminal new work, he discusses the 56 species of wildfowl that have been recorded either in a natural state, or that have been introduced and now maintain self-sustaining populations in Britain and Ireland.

Wildfowl (New Naturalist #110) will be published in May 2009 – Order today and save £11!

Browse other new Shorebirds and Waterfowl titles

England’s Landscape – Save 60% in Our Backlist Bargains Sale!

Don’t miss our amazing special offer on the England’s Landscape books from English Heritage – these classic references are now 60% off! (sale ends 31 March 2009).

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Regional titles in the England’s Landscape series include The North West, The North East, The West Midlands, The East Midlands, The West, The South West, East Anglia, and The South East.

Order now for big savings!

Several New Naturalist volumes are featured in our annual Backlist Bargains sale, including Garden Natural History, The Isles of Scilly and Britain’s Structure and Scenery.

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Take advantage of these great deals before they disappear (sale ends 31 March 2009) – save up to 60% on more than 2600 wildlife, environment and natural history titles!

Browse our regional selections:
England | Ireland | Scotland | Wales

New Naturalist #109: Islands – Order Now and Save 22%

The latest volume from the classic Collins New Naturalist series will be here soon!

New Naturalist IslandsIn his fourth New Naturalist volume, Professor R. J. Berry takes a broad look at the islands that lie off the shore of Britain and Ireland, exploring their biology, geography, geology and climate, and examining changes that have occurred in the past and how these become relevant for future developments.

Laced throughout with Professor Berry’s expertise and enthusiasm, this all-encompassing, engrossing volume is a lyrical journey of the islands that shape our imagination and our awareness.

Islands will be published in early February 2009. Order now and save 22% (special offer until 30/04/2009).

The next volume in the series will be Wildfowl of Britain and Ireland, which is due to be published in May 2009. This book is also on special offerOrder now

What Is a Standing Order?

StandingOrder

Anneli, our Catalogue Manager, explains:

For collectable books it is reassuring to know that you will automatically receive the first edition of each new book in a series, at the special offer price. Our Customer Services team can set up the standing order for you, and your credit card only gets charged the day each of the volumes goes out to you. Standing orders are especially popular for the New Naturalist and Handbook of the Bird of the World series.

A standing order can be set up by email or phone; please quote your NHBS customer number. You can also pre-order any individual title before it is published; we will send it to you as soon as it arrives at our warehouse.

For more information, see Standing Orders