Nov 4, 2008

Book Review

It has been a long wait for The Orkney Book of Birds but at last it is finally here. Written by Tim Dean and illustrated by Tracy Hall. The book is lavishly illustrated with beautiful colour plates painted by the renowned wild life artist Tracy Hall. Her illustrations capture the essence of the birds portrayed exquisitely to give a real feel to the birds. This is so much better than a photograph can achieve. All of the subjects are painted at the locations they can be commonly found and it’s a fascinating challenge to pick out the locations from the illustrations. The real genius of it is that although the locations are well represented the back drop at no time draws your attention away from the bird in the foreground. There are 187 birds contained on 50 colour plates. A huge undertaking and so well executed that every single one is a cracker.

The author Tim Dean is a life long birder with a huge love of the subject. In the introduction Tim gives a fascinating review of the birding year in Orkney. He also explains the reasons he got in to birding and his motivation for writing the book. One thing he explains is the reason for just having 187 birds in the book. Basically these are the birds you are likely to find across Orkney through out the year. The list could be expanded to 400 or more if you were to count all the species that have had single occurrences over the years or the birds that appear once in a blue moon. Concentrating on the birds you will find and where you are likely to find them year round makes real sense for some one who wants to hunt down the birds of Orkney. Keeping to the well known names that are in common parlance rather than using the BTO descriptions will hopefully make birds a bit more recognisable to most lay folk that read the book. Where there is an Orkney name or a Scots name for a species then this is included along with a grading of how easy to difficult it is to find the particular bird. The text also will tell you about a birds relevance to the British and European scene if appropriate. Mostly it will concentrate on the history of the particular bird in the county and when where and how you might see it for your self. Each description is concise, packed with information and very well written.

Tim Dean and Tracy Hall have produced a book here that is an absolute gem. Well written and illustrated. It is packed with information and unlike other field guides that tell you what to look for this book will tell you all that and where about in the county to go look to find your bird. Descriptions like land mark and definitive are not going to be out of place describing this book. It’s a cracker…get one!!

Published by The Orcadian ltd (Kirkwall press)…£24.99.

01856 879001 (the Orcadian office).

It is launched this week. Tim and Tracy will be signing copies at the Orcadian book shop on Saturday morning.

Marks out of ten…..eleven!!

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