British Wildlife Publishing can be found at http://www.britishwildlife.com/
Dragonflies are becoming ever more popular, which given their size and beauty is not surprising. This popularity is reflected in an increase in publications relating to them. In 1996 The Stationary Office published an Atlas of British Dragonflies and in 1997 IUCN published a Status Survey and Action Plan for UK species. Now British wildlife have published this excellent field guide. It is I believe the first field guide for any entomological group outside of the leps to be published for the British Isles and as such marks a major step forward in the recognition of Dragons and Damsels by the general public.
This is a very pleasing book. It contains an easy to use key to larvae (final instar) to species and one to family for adults. The 26 page introduction is well written and lucid account of the basic of Dragonfly biology. Perhaps of more interest to the serious student of British Odonata is the 20 pages of regional guides which lists species and sites (including 6 fig. map refs) of interest for all the major regional subdivisions covered by this book. This serves as an excellently handy "where to watch dragonflies in the British Isles", and is a valuable addition to this work.
This is a field guide and contains species descriptions of the 38 resident and 12 migrant or extinct species one is likely to find in the British Isles. Each species is elegantly and accurately illustrated by Richards detailed drawings, and each is accompanied by over a page of informative text as well as a small inset distribution map. The text description follows the format: Description including Jizz, Field characters and Similar species; Status and Conservation; Ecology and Behaviour including Larvae, Emergence and Flight season. If I find any fault with this book it is the price, in comparison with other guides of a similar size it is well over-priced. Collins new Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Europe contains twice as many pages more than 4 times as many of Richards excellent drawings and comes in hardback for one pound less. Still if you are the only one of your kind on the market you can probably get away with it.
This book with its two keys and excellent species descriptions represents not only a boon for the amateur naturalist in Britain and Ireland but is also an invaluable resource for teachers in the many schools throughout the region which now have a school pond. All in all a very attractive addition to the literature which I am sure will be well used throughout the countries involved.
When British Wildlife Publishing released their Field guide to the Damsels and Dragons of Great Britain and Ireland in 1998 I was very happy to have a copy, it was more up-to-date and more portable than anything else available at the time. However in 2000 I moved to Greece and suddenly it became inadequate, although I still used it, bringing unusual specimens back home to be checked in Askew's Dragonflies of Europe, a beautiful, but large and heavy volume with a somewhat limited coverage.
The Odonata movement has gained considerable strength in the last six years and all the existing literature is well out of date, at least as far as Eastern Europe is concerned, so it was with great joy that I found that I agreed to review this new book. My joy increased the more I read it, the excellent drawings and detailed maps, the inclusion of all the known migratory species, and the user-friendly keys to identification, and its portable nature make it a blessing to anybody interested in Odonata in Europe.
The species descriptions contain all the information you would expect, including tips for field vs hand-held identification, notes on variations, behaviour, habitat, occurrence and flight times. At the beginning of the book are a series of basic keys that greatly simplify identification, reducing the initial examination to half a dozen fundamental observations. Also of interest are the 27 pages of regional breakdowns, which include tips on finding unusual species.
All told this is a highly attractive, and very useful book that should facilitate an increase in the recording of the odonata from Central and Eastern Europe. I would thoroughly recommend it to anybody interested in the Odonata of Europe, and particularly to anybody coming to Greece, which has one of the most diverse, and under-recorded dragonfly and damselfly populations in Europe. The area of Lake Kerkini, just north of Thessaloniki, for instance, has potentially 60+ species, but so far only 27 have been recorded. So there's a challange for anybody, get your self a copy of Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Britain and Europe and fly out this Autumn, you are sure to enjoy yourself. See also Lake Kerkini.
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