RSPB Where to Discover Nature in Britain and Northern Ireland


With its descriptive introductions and bright illustrative photography, this attractive RSPB guide is aimed squarely at those wishing to make the most of a day spent watching wildlife and the enjoying the great outdoors. It is also the first title to be published which gives detailed information about every RSPB reserve open to the public in the United Kingdom, and gives a general overview of the species which are likely to be found at each site.

Those with a keen interest rather than an in-depth knowledge of birds, as well as the mammals, insects and plants which feature widely in this guide, would perhaps gain more from this book, as it is a good introduction to the wide variety of species to be found throughout the British Isles. Indeed, much of the photography depicts many of the more widely recognisable bird species such as Kingfisher, Barn Owl and Puffin.

The guide is mostly well laid out and feels quite user friendly, with the reserves being listed by geographical region and then alphabetically by name, allowing the reader to find information about the required site quickly and simply. The amount of information provided for each site varies, as the RSPB designates its reserves into either ‘Active Engagement’ (flagship reserves with more developed facilities and visitor centres) or ‘Quiet Enjoyment’ (fewer facilities, and a more remote experience). Active Engagement sites are covered over four pages, whereas Quiet Enjoyment reserves are covered in only two.

For every reserve there are also useful details about access, facilities, contact details and accessibility for wheelchair users, along with maps, directions and each reserve’s policy regarding dogs.

As a general guide to British and Northern Irish reserves, Where to Discover Nature gives good information at a glance. However, it is not quite so easy to find details of specific species as there is quite a large amount of descriptive writing to sift through. On the whole, though, this is a good introduction to many of the key nature reserves of the British Isles.

·      RSPB Where to Discover Nature in Britain and Northern Ireland by Marianne Taylor (Christopher Helm, London, 2010).

·      352 pages, 250 colour photos and 120 colour maps.

·      ISBN 9781408108642. Sbk, £12.99.

Available from Birdwatch bookshop