Devon is without doubt one of the most beautiful counties in England and it is one that contains a diverse range of habitats, including the often enigmatic Dartmoor. It should not be surprising then, as it is a fairly large county with a southerly disposition, that it has a large moth list to complement its large bird list. What is surprising is that so few people have seriously recorded it in the past, and that the county record has not been published until now (accepted that this review is several years late).
The last serious attempt to catalogue the counties Macromoth list was way back in 1952 by S. T. Stidston. Roy McCormick was a relative newcomer to Devon back in 1993 when he arrived in the county, however he was far from a newcomer to moths. He immediately set about revitalising the recording scene in Devon and was central to the formation of the Devon Moth Group in 1997, an organisation that has done sterling work since then in its efforts to generate some serious coverage of Devon. As a member of the DMG during my last few years in England I was always amazed by the unflagging energy and enthusiasm Roy brought to our moth trips.
So perhaps it is fitting that he has published this list which most definitely puts Devon on the moth-map of Britain. The book is well produced and will be of great value for many years to come. I am impressed with the efforts Roy has made to track down and correlate all the old records for the county, and with the generosity with which he has handed out his thanks. I am also impressed with the layout of the book.
County records are traditionally dry tomes that offer little to interest the novice or to inspire enthusiasm, but with this work Roy has made a great stride forward in the necessary effort of dragging the old traditions into the 21st century. Without sacrificing in the least any of the expected details Roy has produced a work that is also readable and educational. It includes not only the usual nod to recorders of the past but a brief introduction to the geology of the county and local land usage along with some discussion of conservation and species changes throughout the decades.
It is also lavishly illustrated with many colour photos of Devon, as well as of the moths themselves, and a handsome number of B/W illustrations by John Walters throughout the systematic section which enliven the text considerably. The inclusion of the Pyralids and Plumes shows Roy's own personal interest and adds to the value of the book. All told this is a very nice volume that is a considerable improvement over some of the County records that adorn my shelves
As a final note it should be known that this book was effectively self-published, as this was the only way Roy could get the book published the way he wanted it done. This means that the best way to acquire a copy is to write to Roy McCormick himself at 36 Paradise Road, Teignmouth, Devon, TQ14 8NR, England