Friday, February 18, 2011
1) Alford, David V.. Plant Pests (New Naturalist series). 2011. Collins U.K.. Paperback: 500 pages. Price: 30 GBP (about $48.71 U.S.).
SUMMARY: Ever since man first cultivated plants and grew crops, insects, mites and other creatures have risen to prominence as pests, but it is only throughout the last two centuries that we have come to study them in any detail.
Whereas in the past, emphasis has mainly been placed on ways to protect cultivated plants from attack or damage, nowadays our over-reliance on pesticides has been replaced by a far more enlightened approach to plant protection. Though chemical pesticides still have a role to play, environmental aspects and non-chemical means of pest control have become equally, if not more, important. This requires a greater appreciation of ecosystems, coupled with a greater understanding of individual pests, including their habits and their role in the environment.
Drawing on a lifetime of experience, David V. Alford provides a fascinating account of the natural history of the insects and mites that inhabit our farms and gardens, and feed on our cultivated plants. He shows how and why the different operations of cultivation affect their world, and why plant pests should not be viewed as different from other wildlife. Coverage of pests includes aliens, and although emphasis is placed mainly on arable and horticultural field crops, pests of protected crops - both edible and non-edible - are also included. Details of pest life cycles, status, distribution and the damage they cause are given, and natural enemies of pests are examined. The author also explores the impact of pesticides, climate change and evolving crop management practices.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those that collect titles in the New Naturalist series and/or have an interest in garden pests.
2) Baker, J.A. (with introduction by Mark Cocker and Diary edited by John Fanshawe). The Peregrine (The Hill of Summer & Diaries): The Complete Works of J.A. Baker. 2010. Collins U.K.. Hardbound: 416 pages. Price: GBP 20.00 (about $32.48 U.S.).
SUMMARY: Reissue of J. A. Baker’s extraordinary classic of British nature writing.
Despite the association of peregrines with the wild, outer reaches of the British Isles, The Peregrine is set on the flat marshes of the Essex coast, where J. A. Baker spent a long winter looking and writing about the visitors from the uplands – peregrines that spend the winter hunting the huge flocks of pigeons and waders that share the desolate landscape with them. Including original diaries from which The Peregrine was written and its companion volume The Hill of Summer, this is a beautiful compendium of lyrical nature writing at its absolute best. Such luminaries as Richard Mabey, Robert Macfarlane, Ted Hughes and Andrew Motion have cited this as one of the most important books in 20th Century nature writing, and the bestselling author Mark Cocker has provided an introduction on the importance of Baker, his writings and the diaries – creating the essential volume of Baker's writings.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the Peregrine Falcon and/or classic natural history writing.