52 Wildlife Weekends ~ A Year of British Wildlife Watching Breaks.
52 Wildlife Weekends ~ A Year of British Wildlife Watching Breaks By James Lowen; Bradt Travel Guides UK, 2013. ISBN 9-781841-624648.
Author James Lowen has, according to the intro, immersed himself in all aspects of natural history since he was able to walk. He, with the essential assistance of a multitude of wildlife-loving friends in wildlife charities across the country, brings us a rich banquet of 'what to watch' and 'the best season and places'. Full marks for covering all species--yes fungi get a mention--and going to most corners of the British Isles.
The layout is based on the calendar: January's summer--seals, through April--badgers, birds of prey and plant life; into July with butterflies, sharks and water voles; October finds swans, muntjac and red deer. The author provides 5 'wildlife targets' so you have plenty to choose from, but the reality is of course--much depends on where you live, how far you can go and who is with you--family or a class of school children?--will determine much.
It must be said that some species will be much easier to find--muntjac in London compared to the Scottish wildcat--but the guide does its best to provide a 'Practicalities' page for each weekend. Such listings are bound to get of date, but at least they give the reader a start.
A few specific niggles for this reviewer: It's dangerous to 'make up' headings rather than say something clearly--'Don't Spurn the Chance' (seeing wetland birds ... .??) and 'Leap of Faith' (salmon ...) are two examples. The author being overly-lyrical such as 'The Chiltern evening is balmy, windless and expectant'--can be off-putting and I am not sure what it contributes to the 'good/great guide'. I used to live in the Chilterns--and the description could be of many places, so unhelpful.
A map shows the geographical location of each chosen 'weekend', however the colour coding refers to a month, and not a season, which is confusing for this reviewer. Some way of integrating both would have been better. It has a useful index, which is crucial for any guide. Also, a good summary of the best wildlife weekends, are on page 222.
A very good overview guide--and certainly more practical than some of the tomes (weight-wise) I have encountered. Recommended for every school library and Science or Geography Coordinator's bookshelf!
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Henricus Peters Editor