Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Creaking Bookshelves.

9th July.  I’ve just received my copy of Birds of Durham in the post today.  As the cover says, this is the first complete overview of the county’s bird life to be published since 1951.  Well done Durham Bird Club and all others who cooperated and helped sponsor this work.  I’ll look forward to dipping in and out of the 1,014 pages of this heavy volume.

I recently finished reading the Poyser edition The Kittiwake/J C Coulson.  You have to admire anyone who is involved in long term research of any kind, and as this book contains research first begun in the 1950s it tells us a great deal about the Kittiwake and in particular covers their progress on Tyneside.  The central focus of the research is the Tyne and Marsden Kittiwakes.  To fully appreciate this book I think you need to be interested in minute detail and be ready for lots of statistics and graphs.  I personally found it hard work and confess I missed parts out.  I don’t find it easy even trying to retain such large quantities of statistics and feel that reading this type of book can turn into a bit of a chore.  Another one best dipped in and out of I think.  My feeling is that I’ll enjoy The Atlantic Gannet/Bryan Nelson a good deal more once I get around to reading it.  This is an updated edition of a book that has been around for a number of years.

 The Wisdom of Birds/Tim Birkhead was voted ‘Best Bird Book of the Year’ (2009) by the BTO and British Birds.  I’ve read that one twice and found it fascinating so I was pleased to get hold of a copy of Bird Sense, the latest offering from Tim Birkhead.  Tim is a professor at the University of Sheffield where he teaches animal behaviour and the history of science.  Bird Sense is written in the same style as Wisdom of Birds.  As the title suggests it focuses upon what we know of the senses birds use to interpret their environment. It has separate chapters for seeing, hearing, touch, taste, smell, magnetic sense and emotions.  Do birds have emotions?  Well that question is asked and explored a little.  It brings the reader up to date with the present knowledge regarding bird senses by looking at some earlier ideas and research.  Thus showing how the present accepted position has been reached.  This is done quite concisely and is written in a way I’m sure even the general reader can understand quite easily.  It raises questions about what we don’t know and can only guess at and underlines the fact that scientific thought and beliefs are always changing.  Having read this after The Kittiwake, I found this style and content much more to my liking.  I didn’t think it matched up to the Wisdom of Birds and has less content, but having said that I’m going to read it again.  I’m also attracted to some of this authors other works.

Some reorganising of the bookshelves will be necessary.

1 comment:

  1. It would be fascinating to learn about bird emotions. (I'm sure they do have these).

    Tim's book sounds pretty ambitious, but I would think that most would learn a lot from it.

    I may look to buy this, when I have got through other books.