Join thousands of book lovers
You can, at any time, unsubscribe from our newsletters.
A lavish celebration of seabirds with outstanding depth of coverage and stunning photography, illustrating all aspects of seabird life and behavior.
The bestselling RSPB Handbook of British Birds is the most comprehensive reference for birdwatchers of all levels of interest and experience. Now in its fifth edition, it remains the most accessible field guide to more than 300 bird species likely to be encountered in Britain and Ireland. Alongside artworks depicting all common plumages, the detailed text describes each bird's behaviour, habitat, voice, breeding biology, longevity and seasonal movements, as well as other useful information. The guide also includes UK population trends and up-to-date distribution maps.Completely revised and updated, this fifth edition also features new artwork and comparison spreads, additional rarities and the most recent taxonomic order, as well as each species' conservation status, a summary of the threats UK species are currently facing and details of what conservationists are doing to help. A new lay-flat binding has also been used, creating easier access to the species accounts at home or in the field.
From Ravens to Jackdaws and Choughs to Jays, crows are among some of Britain's most familiar, abundant and opinion-dividing birds. The UK's eight crow species all belong to the Corvidae family, and they have been deeply intertwined in our lives and culture since prehistoric times. Crows have long attracted a bad press. Reviled as scavengers, crop raiders and jewellery thieves, these birds known to scientists are corvids have often found themselves on the wrong end of a shotgun. Yet behind crows' supposed misdemeanours lies exceptional intelligence and resourcefulness, which both explain their success and have taught us much about animal behaviour. In Spotlight Crows, Mike Unwin introduces the UK's eight corvid species, outlining their fascinating natural history and offering essential identification tips. He also explores the mythology and folklore that have embedded these remarkable birds so deeply in our culture, from nursery rhymes to horror movies. The Spotlight series introduces readers to the lives and behaviour of our favourite animals with eye-catching colour photography and informative expert text.
Seals are the sleekest and most agile of all marine mammals, and they are superbly adapted to the watery world in which they spend most of their time. With their whiskery dog-like faces, curious nature and vulnerable pups, they are enduringly appealing animals.Although air-breathing, seals are superbly tuned to hunt, sleep, mate and keep warm while out at sea, but they remain inextricably linked to land. In Spotlight Seals, Frances Dipper explores the intricate lives of the UK's native Grey and Common Seals and their amazing physical and behavioural adaptations to a life split between land and sea. She reveals the complex physiology that allows seals to dive deep and for long periods without coming to any harm.Once exploited for their meat and skins, seals now have protection around the British Isles. Their numbers are increasing, but they still face the danger of plastic litter in their environment. Dipper also explores age-old legends, interactions between humans and seals, and the best places to watch them in the UK.The Spotlight series introduces readers to the lives and behaviour of our favourite animals with eye-catching colourphotographs and informative expert text.
What is a bird? To answer that, we must understand how birds are different from all other living things and how they fit into the diversity of life on Earth.This excellent RSPB guide to bird anatomy looks at the avian body, system by system, how it evolved, and how it functions. Chapters explore traits that are unique to birds, including their remarkable one-way breathing cycle, their trimmed-down skeleton, how feathers permit flight, provide weather-proofing and add beauty, and the avian bill a lightweight replacement for both teeth and food-handling forelimbs. Each chapter tackles a particular body system and includes detailed anatomical illustrations, from cells and organs to skeletons and muscles, to show how birds' anatomical adaptations enable all their physical feats and fascinating behaviour. Feature spreads offer more in-depth analysis on topics like birdsong, temperature control, ornamentation, unusual diets, social behaviour, nocturnal adaptations, mutation and natural selection.Featuring more than 300 diagrams and colour photos, this fascinating new book also looks at the human impact on the avian world and reveals how behaviour and anatomy work together to produce these vibrant living beings that delight and inspire us so much.
Insects live alongside us in great profusion sometimes even in intimate proximity. Their importance to the ecosystems of our world, and to our own survival, cannot be overstated. But it can be challenging to relate to them as fellow living beings when their bodies' structure and function are so dramatically different from our own. This excellent RSPB guide to insect anatomy aims to demystify the way that insects live, from the fine detail of their internal processes to the way they co-exist with all other forms of life. Insects exhibit dizzying diversity across their millions of species. Among them are mighty hunters, voracious plant defoliators, deep divers, high-fliers, master builders and devoted parents. Within the vast nests of honey-bees, ants and termites, we see them come together to form a huge, complex, multifaceted living machine. All this variation and potential has come about through evolved modification of a simple but perfectly elegant body plan. Each chapter of this book tackles a particular body system or aspect of insect biology, from respiration to digestion, movement to metamorphosis. Using a step-by-step approach, the book breaks down structures and processes and explores the myriad ways these are expressed in different insect groups. Separate pages delve into particular aspects of insect biology and ecology, such as how their colours are formed and the biology behind their remarkable migratory behaviour. Featuring numerous diagrams and more than 200 colour photos, this user-friendly guide is perfect for anyone interested in learning more about these extraordinary animals that in terms of numbers, if not size dominate our planet today.
This will be a detailed 'biography' of ducks and geese that breed in or regularly visit the UK covering 30 species in all. It will include chapters on the evolution of ducks and geese, their place in the natural world, their anatomy and physiology, various feeding methods, spectacular courtship displays and diverse breeding behaviour. Marianne Taylor will reveal their often epic migrations and examine their social interactions with their own and other species, including their unusual readiness to hybridise. She will also detail their relationships with humankind over the centuries, including their presence in folklore and literature and their role in our lives as both prey and pets. She will also explore their presence as feral and sometimes invasive species outside their natural ranges, and their current status within their native wild ranges as the group includes several species recognised as being of global conservation concern.
Snakes are superbly secretive reptiles, celebrated by many for their highly tuned senses and their complex and mysterious seasonal behaviours. Though some people may be fearful of them, these important reptiles play a crucial role in many habitats. And an encounter with any one of our native snake species is an experience worth cherishing.In Spotlight Snakes, Jules Howard takes readers on a journey through the ecology and lifestyle of Britain's three native snake species: the Barred Grass Snake, the Smooth Snake and our only venomous snake species, the Adder. As well as uncovering their unique hunting styles and courtship rituals, he delves into the myths and legends at the heart of humankind's widespread and sometimes troublesome fascination with these animals. He also charts the conservation challenges our native snakes face in the modern age and explores the solutions conservationists are employing to help these extraordinary predators remain a vital part of British ecosystems for generations to come.The Spotlight series introduces readers to the lives and behaviour of our favourite animals with eye-catching colour photographs and informative expert text.
Even the smallest garden attracts some birdlife, and watching garden birds is a great joy for all nature lovers, especially those who cannot travel as widely as they might like. Garden birdwatchers are often new to birdwatching and can feel daunted by the array of species covered in even a small field guide to British birds. This beautiful book focuses wholly on birds that are frequent garden visitors to the UK and reveals details of how they live, how you can bring them into your garden and boost their survival and breeding success, and how to identify them.It is divided into logical categories for the non-expert. Forty-seven garden bird species are treated in detail over two or four pages, with more extended accounts for the most widely observed garden species. Marianne Taylor looks at each species' life history, behaviour and breeding habits, advising how to attract and support each bird in your garden, as well as sorting out all common identification conundrums.Chapters are interspersed with spreads on general practicalities of garden birdwatching and managing a wildlife garden. More than 200 spectacular photographs will reveal every detail of our garden birds' appearance and behaviour and side-by-side images are included for more difficult-to-identify species. The final chapter deals with birds that are welcome but less regular visitors and encourages readers to venture into the wider world of birdwatching.
Much loved ... but about to be lost? The Hedgehog regularly tops polls of the UK's favourite animal, yet numbers in our countryside have halved this century. Generations of children have been captivated by Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, though our complex and contradictory relationship with the Hedgehog is also characterised by persecution and death. This unmistakable, spiny mammal is a 'gardener's best friend', but one that we rarely see alive and in our midst.In Spotlight: Hedgehogs, James Lowen reveals what a Hedgehog is and how it lives, unveiling the secrets of its lifestyle, such as foraging and hibernating, rolling into a ball and building a nest. He also investigates the relationship between Hedgehogs and people from film and fun to conservation and crisps and offers practical advice on how to find, watch and help these charming animals in the wild.
Thanks to their speed, size and nocturnal habitats, bats are among the most interesting, and least understood, mammals that frequent our homes and gardens. From their ability to make sounds that are above the range of human hearing, to their reliance on echolocation to navigate objects and find prey, their unique behaviour means that bats are seldom seen or heard. With nearly 1,400 species worldwide, bats make up around 25 per cent of all mammal species. Spotlight Bats features all 17 species that live and breed in the British Isles, as well as an array of the most fascinating bats from around the world, including some of the more charismatic species such as vampire bats and fishing bats. Nancy Jennings uses up-to-date research to provide insights intothe lives of these elusive mammals, covering the biology, diversity, evolution and ecology of bats, as well as their interactions with humans and folklore. The Spotlight series introduces readers to the lives and behaviours of our favourite animals with eye-catching colour photography and informative expert text.
Woodpeckers are fascinating birds, filling our forests with their unmistakable drumming, and capturing our imaginations with their incredible ability to drill holes in trees and their bright, colourful plumage. Three species of woodpecker are resident in the UK: the Green Woodpecker, often seen on lawns and in fields; the Great Spotted Woodpecker, a frequent visitor at garden bird-feeders; and the tiny Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, sadly now in decline. The Wryneck which twists its neck 'like a snake' when threatened also passes through the UK on its yearly migration and has captivated people throughout the ages. Gerard Gorman provides a close-up look at the lives of these birds, from their anatomy, diet and nesting habits to their iconic drumming behaviour. He also explores the relationship that humans have enjoyed with woodpeckers for centuries, in folklore, myth and conservation, and gives tips on how to observe these wonderful birds in the wild. The Spotlight series introduces readers to the lives and behaviour of our favourite animals with eye-catching colour photographs and informative expert text.
Most wildlife books are designed to help you identify the animals you have seen. This book is different. In this new, user-friendly guide one British species is highlighted per page, and each account explains in accessible text how to find it, where to find it and how to ensure you have the most rewarding wildlife-watching experiences.Within the 'How to Find' section, author Marianne Taylor explains the best time to look for each species, its preferred habitat, and offers tips to help make your search easier or more productive. In 'Watching Tips' she advises on how to get the most from your encounter, how to observe the species at length and with luck witness its most fascinating behaviour. A colour panel indicates each species' geographical distribution on a map, including 'Super Sites' where the species is particularly abundant or regular. A calendar shows when each species is present or active in the UK to help you plan your visits to nature reserves. Colour photos serve as a reminder of each species' key identification features.In total, RSPB British Naturefinder features nearly 300 species, and it includes all British mammals, reptiles and amphibians, along with a carefully chosen selection of other British animals of interest, such as butterflies, moths, dragonflies, spiders and fishes.
They were bestowed with magical properties in folklore, they were sought after as ingredients of witches' broth, and they are comic characters that have invaded popular culture, from Kermit the Frog to Toad of Toad Hall. Frogs and toads are charismatic members of Britain's wildlife. But what do you really know about them?Scratch beneath the surface, and you will discover some of nature's weirdest creatures, amphibians whose ecology we are only now coming to understand. Spotlight Frogs and Toads is a compelling account of Britain's four native amphibian species: the Common Frog, the Pool Frog, the Common Toad and the rare and secretive Natterjack Toad. New research suggests that, in the next ten years, three out of four UK species are likely to be listed as threatened. Revealing a host of secrets, including how they migrate, what they eat, and how they got to the UK in the first place, Jules Howard inspires us all to look down, rather than up, in spring.The Spotlight series introduces readers to the lives and behaviour of our favourite animals with eye-catching colour photographs and informative expert text.
Brightly coloured and pleasingly patterned, ladybirds are among some of our most beloved and familiar invertebrates. Their role in helping to protect our crops by devouring huge numbers of pests has firmly established these tiny, flying beetles as the gardeners' friend. Spotlight Ladybirds focuses on the 26 species that are resident in the UK, from the widespread but unusual Orange Ladybird to the rare and aptly named Scarce 7-spot Ladybird. Ladybird expert, Richard Comont considers the conservation challenges facing these iconic species, whose populations are now at risk thanks to the threat posed by one of their own, the invasive alien Harlequin Ladybird. And he covers all aspects of ladybirds' biology, from tiny larvae emerging from their oval eggs to large aggregations that converge at specific sites around the world. Richard also examines the natural history and cultural significance of this fascinating group of beetles, from Ladybird Books to Thor. The Spotlight series introduces readers to the lives of our favourite animals with eye-catching colour photos and informative expert text.
Birdsong is the natural soundtrack to our lives and can evoke a powerful sense of time, place and season. Often profoundly beautiful, it is also the most effective way to discover many birds, and birds' songs and calls reveal much about their lives and behaviour. However, identifying which bird is making which sound can seem challenging.With this groundbreaking and easy-to-use guide, Adrian Thomas helps you learn and identify bird sounds step by step and at your own pace. Whether you are an experienced birdwatcher or just enjoy hearing the birds in your garden, this new guide will open your ears like never before to the amazing songs and calls around you.- Includes a sound guide to more than 100 songs and calls of 65 garden, woodland and farmland birds- A reference section describes in detail the sounds of a further 185 birds of Britain and north-west Europe- Beautiful colour photographs, annotated sonograms and 'test yourself' sections are also included- The 74-minute narrated recording can also be downloaded to listen to on the go
Sparrows are often considered familiar to the point of invisibility, but the recent steep decline in numbers of both native British species is a reminder that these unassuming chatterboxes deserve a little more attention.Of all the true sparrow species found worldwide, only two occur in the British Isles. Globally, the story of the House Sparrow is one of dramatic expansion: from humble origins in the Middle East where they spread, along with agriculture, to become the most widely distributed bird on the planet. The smaller, more active Tree Sparrow has also spread extensively, following the domestication of rice rather than wheat, and both species have been heavily persecuted in recent years. In Spotlight Sparrows, Amy-Jane Beer examines the causes behind the decline of these familiar species, and explores their biology and life cycle, social behaviour, and the significant role that sparrows play in human culture, from Shakespeare and Edith Piaf to Captain Jack Sparrow.
A hunting Osprey is one of the great sights of the natural world, and its fishing prowess is admired and revered around the globe. However, its penchant for taking fish from trout ponds resulted in a drastic decline in the UK with the species wiped out by human persecution and habitat loss.Thanks to concerted conservation efforts, it has made an encouraging comeback in recent decades, giving people across the country the chance to see this majestic hunter in action once again. This easy-to-read text explores all aspects of the Osprey's biology and ecology, including a detailed overview of the adaptations that make it such a skilled and proficient hunter. There is also a chapter dedicated to Osprey migration with a summary of the findings of groundbreaking satellite tracking research. Tim Mackrill also explores the relationship between humans and Ospreys, from the days of Shakespeare to the recent rise of Osprey tourism.The Spotlight series introduces readers to the lives and behaviour of our favourite animals with eye-catching colour photographs and informative expert text.
This friendly handbook is full of practical advice on attracting wildlife to your garden, and encouraging creatures to stick around, as well as expert tips on green gardening, seasonal planting and garden predators.Colour photographs illustrate hundreds of mammals, birds, insects, invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians, flowers, trees, shrubs and fungi, while the comprehensive text explains everything you need to cultivate a haven for nature.The new edition includes additional species as well as fully updated text describing the diverse wildlife that can be found in British gardens. Finally, a DIY chapter is packed with projects for your garden, from building bat boxes to digging your own pond.
People all over Britain and Europe have long welcomed the arrival of swifts and swallows as a promise of summer being just around the corner. And with their similar long wings and dashing flight, it is perhaps understandable that we often confuse the two birds. After all, they have much in common: both feed on flying insects, both breed around buildings, and both are long-distance migrants that spend winter in Africa. But appearances can be deceptive. Swifts and swallows are completely unrelated birds that have adapted through evolution to survive in similar ways. In Spotlight: Swifts and Swallows, Mike Unwin reveals their fascinating lifestyles, explains how and why they have acquired their similarities, and ways in which we can help protect them. The Spotlight series introduces readers to the lives and behaviour of our favourite animals with eye-catching colour photography and informative expert text.
There is something uplifting about having butterflies in your flowerbeds, frogs in your water feature and birds in your bushes, and knowing they're there because of you. Rich in detail and accessible in style, Gardening for Wildlife is the crucial companion to novices and expert gardeners alike. Adrian Thomas dispels myths and offers new insights and ideas, helping everyone understand what to do so gardens, large or small, can become ideal homes for wildlife.Building on the success of the award-winning first edition, this expanded and updated edition reflects the latest research and developments in nature-friendly gardening.The book serves as an expert guide to the practical aspects of this rewarding pastime and educates readers about the ecological principles involved, while exploding commonly held misconceptions that often deter people from pursuing a kinder approach to gardening.Adrian Thomas provides a detailed guide to the many and varied species that can contribute to a natural and healthy garden. Practical sections help you create entire habitats, such as woodland and meadow gardens, in your garden. And the massively expanded catalogue of the top 500 best garden flowers, shrubs and trees for wildlife, now includes colour photos of every species.If you love wildlife and want to encourage more to visit your garden, this inspirational book will help you sow the seeds and reap the rewards.
Owls are charismatic and exceptionally well-loved characters in British wildlife, and have always held a special place in our folklore and legends. Their nocturnal habits mean few of us have been lucky enough to see them up close. In RSPB Spotlight: Owls Marianne Taylor introduces readers to every aspect of their lives including their physiology, biology and behaviour, as well as their history, and future in conservation in Britain and abroad.Five species of owl currently live in Britain - the Tawny, Barn, Little, Long-eared and Short-eared Owls - and each of them, as well as their relatives abroad, are introduced here in detail alongside top quality colour photographs and fascinating behavioural images, which will delight and inform the whole family.The book begins with a look at owls in general then examines the five British species in more detail. It discusses their evolutionary history and distribution around the world. Their anatomy and adaptations are examined, as well as their natural behaviours including hunting, nesting and mating practices. Next, we are introduced to their life cycles, beginning as eggs, moving onto fledging and independence, migration, and finally death. Marianne also includes a discussion of conservation as it affects owls, and owls' unique relationships with humans and our culture.
With their wild glare, swift turn of foot and secretive nature, hares are the rabbit's mysterious and untameable cousin. Always a thrilling wildlife spot, the hare has long been a symbol of Britain's sweeping, open countryside. Hares have also been associated with human culture and folklore for many centuries - their associations with spring can be traced back to the druids. Focussing on our two British species, the Brown Hare (found throughout the UK and widely distributed in Europe and Asia) and its more northerly relative the Mountain Hare (found in Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia and the Russian Federation), RSPB Spotlight Hares offers exciting and up-to-date information on these incredible lagomorphs, with chapters covering their biology, evolution, natural history, behaviour, including courtship rituals, and ecology. Information on some of the more charismatic species of hare found elsewhere in the world and on hares' other relatives, the rabbits and pikas, is also provided. The author discusses in detail Hares' interactions with humans, in agriculture, habitat management, shooting and hunting, as well as in more culinary matters, and reveals why this almost mythical animal of hill and meadow is so sensitive to the changes we make to age-old farming landscapes. The presence and significance of hares in our culture is also discussed, including the Easter hare, Lewis Carroll's mad March hare, and hares as shape-changers. Nancy Jennings also offers useful tips on where and how to see hares for yourself in the wild.