The Birds of Gloucestershire

I was very pleased to receive the new and very comprehensive book, The Birds of Gloucestershire. There was a great need for a book of this calibre in our county and it has now been more than fulfilled. It even starts with a royal seal of approval by HRH the Prince of Wales.

The book settles you in gently with very detailed accounts of all the different habitats in Gloucestershire and describes, with photographs, many of the top sites. Also included are some very interesting aerial photographs. The book then moves into a fascinating history of bird recording and conservation methods in the county.

As a reserve warden at Slimbridge WWT, the species account section will become an excellent resource. In fact, I am going to crib some of the information to update and improve my daily commentated feeds to the public. These days, I may only see one Pink-footed Goose per winter at Slimbridge, but reading this species’ account reveals a past wintering flock of 1,200 birds. And the fact that only a few hundred European Golden Plover used to be seen in winter but now we may see in excess of 5,000 is truly remarkable. This sort of historic detail allows you to see which birds have disappeared from the area and which are increasing.

Anyone from Gloucestershire, or who has an interest in the area, will find this book fascinating. It is the first really detailed account of ornithology in Gloucestershire and will almost certainly become the bible for local birders. I think we all tend to stick to our most local of patches too often when birding and perhaps forget we are in a county rich in variety and habitats with their own varying climates. This book has inspired me to get out and discover more of Gloucestershire’s very diverse countryside in 2014.

The book is full of excellent photographs taken by local people in Gloucestershire of the actual wildlife talked about in the book. The artwork, too, is outstanding and provides a nice mix throughout the book alongside the photos. The high-quality graphs were also easy to understand.

It is clearly a mammoth undertaking to compile a book of this standard, so it was great to see that everybody involved was well acknowledged for their efforts or contributions. This book really gives a sense of value and appreciation to what a wonderful county we live in, full of passionate and enthusiastic residents. This excellent avifauna now takes pride of place at the top of my rather out-of-control wildlife library.

More info
  • The Birds of Gloucestershire by Gordon Kirk and John Phillips (Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, 2013).
  • 450 pages, 200 colour illustrations.
  • ISBN 9781846318085. Hbk, £45.