| An identification guide to Trees of Britain – and North-West Europe | Dominic Couzens & Gail Ashton | John Beaufoy Publishing | 2024 | Paperback | 160 Pages | ISBN: 9781913679453 |

The Publisher’s View:

An easy-to-use photographic identification guide to 89 species of tree most commonly found in Britain and North-West Europe. Dominic Couzens’ lively text draws out the main characteristics, describing the whole tree and its significant features. Gail Ashton’s vivid photographs capture the trees in different seasons and her close-up details help distinguish the species. The introduction includes an overview of key identifying features, a month-by-month view of the changes in a tree’s appearance and a glossary. Each species description includes a calendar showing the time when the trees show leaves, fruits and flowers, a description of the bark, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds, up to seven photographs showing distinguishing features, details of the life history of the species and its uses, and a fact file detailing height and similar species.

The Authors:

Dominic Couzens is an award-winning nature writer with 40 books and hundreds of published articles to his name. His best-known books include An Identification Guide to Garden Insects of Britain and North-West EuropeThe Secret Lives of Garden BirdsBritain’s Mammals, and Save Our Species, while he contributes to magazines and newspapers, such as BirdWatchingRSPBCountryfile and The Guardian.

Gail Ashton is an award-winning wildlife photographer, writer and illustrator specialising in invertebrates. She photographed and co-authored An Identification Guide to Garden Insects of Britain and North-West Europe and her work has been published in other books and magazines such as CountryfileBBC Wildlife and BirdWatching.

Fatbirder View:

I’ve never read anything by Dominic that wasn’t well written, clear, concise and easy to digest. His prolific output is mostly bird related, although he has a wide knowledge of nature and his love for his subject matter always allows the reader to absorb as if by magic. He is, on top of that a gentleman in every sense of the word.

His usual accessibility is here and I like too the fact that its not spoilt by being purist. Most such guides stick to native trees, maybe grudgingly allowing a reference or two to trees that have been part of the British landscape for at least five hundred years.

Dominic avoids that mistake and covers all the species we will see with regularity, no matter that they escaped into the wild from arboretums or are planted in profusion in public spaces or the many misplaced eucalypts on the wrong side of the world. If we are to learn to tell what’s what we need this honesty, not a prissy purists set of omissions. That’s not to say he, and I would not love to see more natives and less exotics, but such concerns must start with a more general ability to identify what we have.

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