RSPB Seabirds by Marianne Taylor | David Tipling (Illustrator) | Bloomsbury | Hardback | September 2014 | ISBN: 9781472909015

The Publisher’s View: Seabirds are the living links between land, air and sea. They enjoy a freedom that even humans, with all our technological assistance, can barely imagine. Many species travel mind-boggling distances across the length and breadth of our planet before returning to land to breed in large, deafening and confusingly crowded colonies. Yet within this commotion each mated pair forms a bond of extreme closeness and tenderness that survives separation each winter and may persist for decades.

The long and geologically varied coastline of the British Isles provides homes for internationally important numbers of breeding seabirds. Visiting their colonies is always unforgettable, whether they are cliff-faces packed with Guillemots, islands white-capped by clustered Gannets on their nests, flat beaches crowded with screaming Arctic Terns or seaside rooftops overlaid with a second townscape of nesting gulls. The changing fortunes of these seabird cities reveal to us the health of the vast, unseen but incredibly rich marine world that surrounds us.

RSPB Seabirds showcases some of our most exciting and enigmatic bird species as vital and living components of one of our greatest natural assets: our coastline. The author presents detailed biographies of all the seabird species that breed in and around the British Isles, and also looks at the many species that breed elsewhere but which, regularly or occasionally, visit British waters. Every page of this sumptuous book features beautiful photographs of wild seabirds engaged in their daily work of hunting, travelling, protecting themselves and their territories, courting and raising a family.

The Authors: Marianne Taylor is a freelance writer, illustrator, photographer and editor. Marianne grew up in the seaside town of Hastings in Sussex, and from an early age she could be found watching and scribbling notes about the behaviour of the Herring Gulls nesting outside her sister’s bedroom window. A passion for all wildlife, but especially birds and most especially seabirds, has been a driving force in her life ever since. Marianne worked in publishing for seven years before taking the plunge as a freelancer in 2007. Since then she has written 19 books for adults and children on a range of natural history subjects.

Renowned cameraman David Tipling has worked as a freelance wildlife photographer since 1992. David travels extensively photographing some of the world’s most iconic wildlife and one of his specialities is the birds of our seas and oceans. His many awards include the prestigious Nature Photographer of the Year. David’s work has featured in countless magazines and newspapers and he has been author or commissioned photographer for more than forty books on birds and wildlife photography.

Fatbirder View: The RSPB sometimes has a problem keeping birders in the fold… many are purists who want the RSPB to do what it says on the tin – protect birds and leave everything else alone. But the organization has become increasingly a lobby for changing farming techniques, for strategic land management and the champion of all out wild flora and fauna. I for one am happy with that expanding remit because of what I think the RSPB does best – engage the general public and serve their general desire to see wild things flourish. What, you may be asking, does this have to do with reviewing this book? If you are I’ll happily tell you, this book is engaging in a way that is not narrowly focused by is a catchall. We birders want fieldguides, ‘where to watch’ books and ID tips. But there are millions of UK citizens that walk their dogs, wander the woods, gaze out at sea, fish our lakes or ramble the byways that want to know a bit about what they see as they go about their hobbies or daily life. They want a book they can look through and enjoy as well as refer to after spotting an odd duck on the lake or a gull with a funny nose on a windy day.What they are given here is spot on and more so. Not only does it satisfy all those needs as far as waterbirds are concerned but does it with wonderful pictures too. David Tipling is acknowledged as one of our top photographers of wildlife in general and birds in particular. I’m impressed with this book. It is straightforward and accessible without being simplistic or over-basic. This one is for everyone.

FatbirderBuy this book from NHBS