Friday, 28 March 2014

Britain's Dragonflies

Britain's Dragonflies: A field guide to the damselflies and dragonflies of Britain and Ireland

Third Edition, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-691-16123-5

Dave Smallshire and Andy Swash

Published by Princeton University Press, Woodstock, Oxfordshire.
Production and design by WILDGuides Ltd., Old Basing, Hampshire.

I was extremely pleased to receive my review copy of this latest, third edition, of Britain's Dragonflies: A field guide to the damselflies and dragonflies of Britain and Ireland. The Odonata are a group that I have personally not had a great deal of experience but one that I have tentatively been meaning to investigate further. My initial reaction, is that this extremely well planned, comprehensive guide, may well be the excuse I have been waiting for.

The book clearly focuses on the ‘key features’ identification of 63 different species – and this it appears to do well. This includes 56 resident, migrant and former breeding species and, a touch I particularly liked, the inclusion of 7 potential vagrants. Detailed species profiles, complete with stunning images and useable identification charts, deliver concise information on identification, behavior, breeding habitats, population and conservation. I particularly liked, as a newbie to the world of dragons and damsels, the brief ‘where to look’, ‘look-alikes’, and ‘observation tips’ section at the bottom of each page. For those already with more experience, or wishing to probe deeper into their fascinating aquatic world, a section on the identification of larvae and exuviae is also included.

As a desktop reference guide it is clear and concise. As a ‘use in the field’ reference guide it is portable and perfectly designed. My copy came with a protective plastic cover, though I’m not sure if this is standard on all copies but a nice touch nevertheless. A5 in format it conveniently fits the pocket.

Recommended? Absolutely; I can’t wait to go and try it out …

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