Thursday, July 22, 2021

What's That Bird - Rob Hume

Despite the heat, the feeling that everything is breaking down around me (mostly just the water pumps and my phone, but those are significant), the fact that my partner is merrily sailing around the northern isles without me (he gets long holidays, I have to find a job), and the state of the world we're living in - this has been a good book week.

I was lucky enough to get a review copy of the centenary edition of Georgette Heyer's 'The Black Moth', which is both beautiful and comes handily equipped with an excellent introduction and a couple of good afterwords. I have a lot to say about this, I'll keep it for another day. I've also had a couple of new British Library titles land - Margot Bennett's 'The Widow of Bath' and 'Cornish Horror's', and today hit it lucky in The Works.

I love a discount book shop, and I love The Works which is one of the few which has survived. I found 3 decent holiday-type reads for £5 - though they'll probably be more rainy day reads than holidays and a very simple bird book of the sort that I've been looking for forever. Or so it feels.

It cost me £3 and is the sort of book I'm half tempted to buy in bulk to leave in car glove boxes, give to youngish children, and generally scatter around. It's by no means comprehensive but I knew it was what I'd been looking for when I opened it at 'Small Brown Birds' and it passed the crucial test of having Dunnocks displayed next to Sparrows - which a grown-up bird book wouldn't dream of doing. 

I spent hours trying to work out what a dunnock was last spring - they're like sparrows but obviously not sparrows, and if I ever knew what they were I'd forgotten. A book that will easily slip in a pocket and tell me the difference between a fieldfare and a redwing is as good a place to start as any - once I've mastered the small brown birds in here I can move on to something more scientific. 

Meanwhile, the illustrations are admirably clear, and breaking the classifications down into habitat (Close to home, woodland and forest, open country, water and waterside, coast and sea) is handy. As is the gallery of birds identified by colour. I'm genuinely delighted by this find (even if it doesn't bother with barn owls - we all know what they look like anyway) and will be looking at other books with Rob Hume's name on for my next step up. If you want a really good beginners book this one ticks all the boxes for me. 

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