By Ken Hall | Christopher Helm | 2019 | 4th Edition | Paperback | 314 Pages | b/w illustrations, b/w maps | ISBN: 9781472912381

The Publisher’s View: Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire are among Britain’s finest counties in terms of habitat diversity, and their avifaunas are comparatively rich as a result. Much has changed in the region since the previous edition of Where To Watch Birds in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire – the famous Avalon marshes, for example, have become one of Britain’s finest hotspots for wetland birds, for example – but this brand-new fourth edition offers a completely updated review of all the major sites, and many more lesser known ones, with new text and fully revised maps throughout. Where to Watch Birds in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire is indispensable for any birder looking to head out into this ornithologically special corner of England.

The Author: Ken Hall has lived near Bristol from shortly after graduating from its university. He has thoroughly explored the surrounding areas over many years, and has taken part in many nationally- and locally-organised surveys of the birds of the region. These include the BTO’s Breeding Bird Atlases, their local offshoots for Somerset and for Avon, and surveys of some of the Somerset Wildlife Trust’s reserves on the Mendip Hills. A member of the Bristol Ornithological Club since its foundation, he has served on its Committee for long periods, including having held the post of Chairman, and is also one of the team that compiles the Avon Bird Report. In addition to these more local birding activities, he has travelled widely in the Americas, Africa and Europe, with a particular interest in the birds of Spain and France, and has led privately-organised trips to both countries on several occasions. He is the representative in the UK, on a voluntary basis, for the LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux), the RSPB’s equivalent in France.

Fatbirder View: A much updated version of a guide to what was a birding backwater which has become a birding Mecca since the Somerset levels became home to some of our most iconic water associated species. This guide is ‘run of the mill’ but I don’t mean that in a bad way… it covers similar ground to all of the local guides in the same series. Good maps and write ups, key species to look for etc. 90% of people will me more than happy with the guide. A grumpy 10% of us will be struggling to read small grey text against a white background. Does it save ink? Otherwise it’s a triumph of print ‘design’ over accessibility. If aesthetics have won out over good sense it reflects the way of the world.

Unfortunately, it also reflects the world’s propensity to ignore the need of the less mobile. I’ve not read this guide cover to cover just dipped in to view a few of the places I know (or knew as it’s a few years since I ventured west) and none of them had any hint of how I would manage with my restricted mobility let alone how my wheelchair using friends would fare. Having pointed out this to the publishers a number of times over the years it’s not something I can forgive. If authors of similar guides do not feel able to make judgements on accessibility for the mobility challenge I can happily give them a 15 minute tutorial which will equip them sufficiently for the future.

Buy this book from NHBS Fatbirder