By Andrew Self | 432 Pages | 30 Colour Photos | 150+ Illustrations | Christopher Helm | Hardback | Feb 2014 | ISBN: 9781408194041
Publisher’s View: The parks, reservoirs, rooftops and gardens of London – here defined as the area within 20 miles of St Paul’s Cathedral – have a surprisingly rich avifauna, including a healthy population of one of Britain’s rarest breeders, the black redstart. The region also has a remarkable list of rarities – in recent years Canary Wharf has proven to be a magnet for vagrants, while one of the very few British records of Tengmalm’s owl hails from Plaistow – an unfortunate bird stoned to death by local urchins in 1877. Some species, like the peregrine falcon, black-headed gull and ring-necked parakeet, have seen their fortunes soar over recent decades; others, such as house sparrow, have suffered a population collapse, while as recently as a century ago, the London area had breeding populations of birds such as wryneck and red-backed shrike, which are now nationally extinct.
The status, distribution and history of every species on the regional list is discussed in rich detail in Birds of London, the first comprehensive avifauna for the London area ever published. The County Avifauna series provides detailed information on the range and status of bird species at county level. Areas covered in the series so far include Norfolk, Suffolk, Dorset, the Shetland Islands, Leicestershire and Rutland, Essex and Gwent. Each title covers all species on the county list, with a breakdown of rarity records, and there are introductory sections describing the area’s ecology, climate, weather patterns, its ornithological history and conservation record, as well as an in-depth review of the best sites to visit.
The Author: Andrew Self is an author and photographer from London. The former editor of the London Bird Report, Andrew has been London Bird Recorder since 2000 and a member of the London Rarities Committee since 1997. He has birded extensively around the world as well as recording the birdlife of his local patch, Brent Reservoir.
Fatbirder’s View: These county guides are an invaluable resource, especially to new residents of an area. Of course any birder in London will want to have this book to refer to and, in time, perhaps add to! Whether you are a resident patch worker or rarity hunter you really cannot afford to be without this superb record. I especially like the seasonal occurrence charts, if you are building a long local life list this will help you know when to go and other sections will show you where to go to see some of the scarcer regular passage birds. I also like the potted pre-twentieth century history. Often old records are dismissed but many of the oldest are of birds ‘collected’ or shot by ‘sportsmen’ and are unfortunately very reliable… as they used to say ‘what’s hit is history’. A very nicely produced book and a great asset for London’s birders.