Friday, May 29, 2015
1) Masear, Terry. Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 306 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Before he collided with a limousine, Gabriel, an Anna’s hummingbird with a head and throat cloaked in iridescent magenta feathers, could spiral 130 feet in the air, dive 60 miles per hour in a courtship display, hover, and fly backward. When he arrived in rehab caked in road grime, he was so badly injured that he could barely perch. But Terry Masear, one of the busiest hummingbird rehabbers in the country, was determined to save this damaged bird, who seemed oddly familiar. During the four months that Terry worked with Gabriel, she took in 160 hummingbirds, from a miniature nestling rescued by a bulldog and a fledgling trapped inside a skydiving wind tunnel at Universal CityWalk, to Pepper, a female Anna’s injured on a film set. In their time together, Pepper and Gabriel form a special bond and, together, with Terry’s help, learn to fly again. Woven around Gabriel’s and Pepper’s stories are those of other colorful birds in this personal narrative filled with the science and magic surrounding these fascinating creatures.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoy good hummingbird stories you should enjoy this book.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
1) Gessner, David. All The Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West. 2015. W.W. Norton. Hardbound: 354 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: An homage to the West and to two great writers who set the standard for all who celebrate and defend it.
Archetypal wild man Edward Abbey and proper, dedicated Wallace Stegner left their footprints all over the western landscape. Now, award-winning nature writer David Gessner follows the ghosts of these two remarkable writer-environmentalists from Stegner's birthplace in Saskatchewan to the site of Abbey's pilgrimages to Arches National Park in Utah, braiding their stories and asking how they speak to the lives of all those who care about the West.
These two great westerners had very different ideas about what it meant to love the land and try to care for it, and they did so in distinctly different styles. Boozy, lustful, and irascible, Abbey was best known as the author of the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang (and also of the classic nature memoir Desert Solitaire), famous for spawning the idea of guerrilla actions—known to admirers as "monkeywrenching" and to law enforcement as domestic terrorism—to disrupt commercial exploitation of western lands. By contrast, Stegner, a buttoned-down, disciplined, faithful family man and devoted professor of creative writing, dedicated himself to working through the system to protect western sites such as Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado.
In a region beset by droughts and fires, by fracking and drilling, and by an ever-growing population that seems to be in the process of loving the West to death, Gessner asks: how might these two farseeing environmental thinkers have responded to the crisis?
Gessner takes us on an inspiring, entertaining journey as he renews his own commitment to cultivating a meaningful relationship with the wild, confronting American overconsumption, and fighting environmental injustice—all while reawakening the thrill of the words of his two great heroes.
RECOMMENDATION: Fans of the author's earlier works should enjoy this book.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
1) Milton, Giles. Nathaniel's Nutmeg or, The True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History. 2015 (1999). Picador. Paperback: 388 pages. Price: $18.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A true tale of high adventure in the South Seas.
The tiny island of Run is an insignificant speck in the Indonesian archipelago. Just two miles long and half a mile wide, it is remote, tranquil, and, these days, largely ignored.
Yet 370 years ago, Run's harvest of nutmeg (a pound of which yielded a 3,200 percent profit by the time it arrived in England) turned it into the most lucrative of the Spice Islands, precipitating a battle between the all-powerful Dutch East India Company and the British Crown. The outcome of the fighting was one of the most spectacular deals in history: Britain ceded Run to Holland but in return was given Manhattan. This led not only to the birth of New York but also to the beginning of the British Empire.
Such a deal was due to the persistence of one man. Nathaniel Courthope and his small band of adventurers were sent to Run in October 1616, and for four years held off the massive Dutch navy. Nathaniel's Nutmeg centers on the remarkable showdown between Courthope and the Dutch Governor General Jan Coen, and the brutal fate of the mariners racing to Run-and the other corners of the globe-to reap the huge profits of the spice trade. Written with the flair of a historical sea novel but based on rigorous research, Giles Milton's Nathaniel's Nutmeg is a brilliant adventure story by a writer who has been hailed as the "new Bruce Chatwin" (Mail on Sunday).
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in 17th Century history.
Monday, May 18, 2015
1) Kingdon, Jonathan. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals: Second edition. 2015. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 640 pages. Price: $49.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals is the essential companion for anyone going on safari or interested in African mammals—no other field guide covers the whole continent in a portable format. Now fully revised and updated, it covers all known species of African land mammals and features 780 stunning color illustrations. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, distribution, habitat, food, behavior, adaptations, and conservation status. Coverage of several of the more complex groups of small mammals is simplified by reference to genera, and there are introductory profiles of each mammal group and more than 500 maps. This new edition includes many newly recognized species, and classification has been fully updated.
Written and illustrated by a world authority, The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals is a must-have guide for travelers and armchair naturalists alike.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in the mammals of region!
2) Newland, David, Robert Still, Andy Swash & David Tomlinson. Britain's Butterflies: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Ireland (Fully Revised and Updated Third edition). 2015. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 240 pages. Price: $25.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Britain’s Butterflies is a comprehensive and beautifully designed photographic field guide to the butterflies of Britain and Ireland. Containing hundreds of stunning colour photographs, this revised and updated edition provides the latest information on every species ever recorded. It covers in detail the identification of all 59 butterfly species that breed regularly, as well as four former breeders, 10 rare migrants and one species of unknown status. The easy-to-use format will enable butterfly-watchers—beginners or experts—to identify any species they encounter.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for those with an interest in the butterflies of the region.
Monday, May 11, 2015
1) Black, Jeffrey M, Jouke Prop, and Kjell Larsson. The Barnacle Goose. 2014. T & A D Poyser. Hardbound: 287 pages. Price: $85.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The Barnacle Goose, a distinctive, handsome black-and-white bird, gets its name from a medieval myth that the birds hatched from barnacles--how else to explain their sudden appearance each autumn in northern Britain? We now know, of course, that the birds migrate from Arctic Russia, Norway and Svalbard to winter throughout northern Europe. This book represents a culmination of more than 25 years of Barnacle Goose research. It represents the story of one of Europe's most celebrated long-term behavioral studies, detailing the lives of these social and sociable birds.
Chapters include sections on pair formation and bonding, family and population dynamics, brood parasitism, food and feeding, size and shape in different populations, life cycle, survivorship, dispersal, migration, and conservation, with particular regard to climate change. It is a rigorous and thorough examination of the lives of these birds, in fine Poyser tradition.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for anyone with a serious interest in the species.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: To see a fog shrew, should you go to Muir Woods National Monument? If you’re planning to visit Yellowstone National Park, what animals can you expect to see? When should a photographer visit to get a shot of a gray fox?
A mammal finder’s guide (rather than an identification guide), this book tells you how to look, where to go, and what you are likely to find there. Two main sections provide a choice of looking up information by place or by species: The first includes regions of North America, highlighting the best places to look for mammals. The species-finding guide has accounts of more than four hundred species of mammals, including detailed directions to specific parks, refuges, and other locations; the best times of day (or night) to look; and much more information specific to each mammal.
RECOMMENDATION: A useful location guide to North American Mammals.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Even if we focus on certain things in the outdoors, most of us are curious about everything else that might turn up. Serious birders, botanists, and entomologists all have their specialized guides, but this book is the guide to “everything else"—the one guide to take when you go out for a walk. Wow, that’s a cool-looking mushroom. Wonder what it is. Hey, look at that weird insect.
Birds, mammals, trees, wildflowers, insects, reptiles, amphibians, fish, spiders, mushrooms, ferns, grasses, even constellations overhead and rocks underfoot—it’s all here. With authoritative yet broad coverage, nontechnical language, and more than two thousand color photographs, this book is an essential reference for nature lovers living in or visiting Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated introduction to the natural history of the region.
My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here: http://www.scilogs.com/maniraptora/birdbooker-report-372/