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RSPB Spotlight: Woodpeckers

Well worth a tenner!

RSPB Spotlight: Woodpeckers - By Gerard Gorman | Bloomsbury Publishing | 2018 | Paperback | 128 Pages | colour & b/w photos, b/w illustrations, colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781472951182


The Publisher’s View: 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 birdfeeders; 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 Author: Gerard Gorman is an expert naturalist and author based in Hungary. He is widely regarded as Eastern Europe's most accomplished birding guide and is the author of seven books, including Woodpeckers of Europe (2004) and Woodpeckers of the World (2014).

Fatbirder View: I almost dismissed this as a rehash knowing Gerard has written several books on woodpeckers covering Europe thoroughly before and seeing the RSPB motif I wondered how they could bring out a ‘populist’ book on just three and a half woodpecker species. Yet very soon after giving it a chance I came around. This is a nice addition and I rather like the idea of ‘spotlights’ on bird families. Most monographs go into so much depth on a species that they sail past interesting and submerge into scientific minutiae to the extent that I am in danger of nodding off. Family accounts can go the same way or lose you in a morass of species you’ve barely heard of and will never get to see. This book actually tells us about the species we will see at home (OK these days Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers take some finding and Wrynecks need a bit of migratory luck) and then covers a great deal of ground on the whole family drawing on examples from all over but to illustrate what is interesting about the whole family. You don’t have to travel the world to wonder how woodpeckers have managed to spread to such diverse habitats so being informed that woodpeckers nest in bamboo, cacti and termite mounds and even holes in earth banks. Thrown in is some of the lore that makes for colour regarding woodpeckers in myth and popular culture etc. Well worth a tenner!

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21st October 2018