Where to Watch Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight…
Where to Watch Birds Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (3rd Edition) – George Green and Martin Cade – Illustrations by Richard Allen. Christopher Helm – A&C Black – Soft Cover Autumn 2001 - £14.99p
How do you review a regional guide I asked when reviewing the recently released 4th Edition of the Devon & Cornwall Guide? Well, you can compare it to the previous edition and see how extensive the additions and updates are I said, or even do as I did and go down to Devon to try it out in situ. There is, of course, another way. Compare it to other guides and your own experience.
It just so happens that my Mother-in-law lives in Bournemouth so naturally I am a frequent visitor there and, equally naturally when she and her daughter decide to shop, I am a frequent visitor to the top birding spots within a short car journey of that fair city. I must have been to Radipole and Lodmoor dozens of times, Portland even more and at other times the New Forest, Christchurch, Hengistbury Head and, on one memorable occasion, a hidden Dorset valley in the big twitch for a red-flanked bluetail… I remember that one as brilliant but exhausting.
So I took a look at the write-ups of those sites as well as reading through the introduction and general texts… I have to report being rather disappointed.
The first impression was more of a what to watch than a where to watch it guide. The lists of what can be seen where seemed longer than necessary and a little indulgent in mentioning all the rarities that have turned up at prime sites. The descriptions of where to watch fell rather short of the mark for me. They are brief and seem to rely over much on subsumed knowledge of the areas. The maps are a bit blurry and cramped and, despite at last being shown where certain Portland features are, still leaving much more to the frustrated imagination. Take Culverwell for example. This is a spot that various goodies have occurred down the years and is a small area of scrub and bramble sitting in a filed-edge gully with a foot path along one side. I happen to have been shown it by a local when it held a red-backed shrike. I think I once found a marsh warbler there but it remains a warbler sp in the notebook. My point here is that the map is too small a scale to be useful and follows all the previous guides in showing this remarkably well-watched hotspot poorly.
There is another fault that, from what I read closely seems a common feature to many site access descriptions - no mention of disabled access. Nothing in the overviews, nothing in the site details… in direct contrast to the aforementioned Devon and Cornwall guide that makes a real feature of it. OK so it`s a hobbyhorse of mine but up to 10m people in the UK have some sort of physical impairment and all of us age and most lose some fitness during the inevitable passage of time. Those, like me, with limited mobility need to know where the car parks are, what are good spots to see birds from the car and how long paths are and what their surface. It`s a real shame no mention is made of this especially when, for example, one site, Radipole, has really gone out of its way to take into account the differing needs of a whole range of abilities.
I am afraid to say that the
only good reason I can see to buy this edition if you have a previous one is the addition of some sites not mentioned previously… its
good but it could have been so much better!
Created: 22nd Dec 2001