Where to Watch Mammals in Britain and Ireland


Most birders have an eye for other forms of natural history, whether that be Lepidoptera, Odonata or the maturing interest in cetaceans. After all, we tend to see a fair bit of wildlife other than birds during our days in the field. Where to Watch Mammals in Britain and Ireland offers a wealth of information on when, how and where to locate every species of land or marine mammal to which our islands play host.

Covering insectivores, bats, lagomorphs, squirrels, rodents, carnivores, seals, cetaceans, ungulates and marsupials (yes, we now have one!), there really isn’t anything amiss between the covers of this book. The format will be familiar to anyone who has ever bought or borrowed a Helm Where to Watch book in the past. Following introductory chapters such as ‘Why watch mammals’, ‘Factors affecting conservation’, ‘Mammal watching and the law’, ‘Fieldcraft’, ‘Equipment’ and an ‘Introduction to the species accounts’, we are then led into those accounts.

Next up is an ‘Introduction to the site guide’ which devotes a couple of pages to what follows – more than 200 pages detailing 215 individual sites which can be productive for mammal watching. For instance, if I, as a London-based birder, wanted to devote some time to upping my county mammal list, this book offers me nine sites at which to look further. If I wanted to extend my search further afield, I’m given the option of 29 sites in south-east England.

This book details all the common species, but also gives information on how to see or hear some of our rarer beasties. So if you want to connect with Lesser White-toothed Shrew on Scilly, this book will tell you how.

Following the sites section, a few pages devoted to Ireland point the reader in the right direction for seeing cetaceans as well as a host of other species. There is also a useful section entitled ‘The mammal watcher’s year’, which outlines what may be encountered, in the right areas, during each month.

The book concludes with a list of useful addresses, county recorders, local mammal and bat groups, and an appendix of scientific names mentioned in the text.

All in all, Richard Moores has done very well here, as this is an enlightening book and superb value for money.

Now, I’m off in search of Red-necked Wallaby.

Where to Watch Mammals in Britain and Ireland by Richard Moores (Christopher Helm, London, 2007).

295 pages, numerous maps and line drawings.

ISBN 9780713671612. Pbk, £16.99.

Available from Birdwatch bookshop

First published in Birdwatch 189:50 (March 2008)