Tag Archives: journal

Sorting through the trip piles

Still sorting out…

Have you noticed how maps, guides, books and notes can begin to accumulate into little, and not so little, piles of ‘important planning resources’ over time.

My attempt at sorting out some of those piles has continued into a second day. Once Mrs Three Points of the Compass is happy with how much the accumulated ‘stuff’ has been reduced and sorted, I’ll try and get round to a post or two on a couple of these little adventures. One from earlier in the year, one still to come.

Wildflower Keys

A library for botanists…

Wild Flower Keys

A week ago, I had pulled a photographic guide to flora off my bookshelf to share with you. However for those who want to take step into botany proper, and identify with accuracy, not only botanical specimens, but possibly sub-species and variants too, a good wildflower key is required.

Pages from the Francis Rose- Wild Flower Key

Pages from the Francis Rose- Wild Flower Key

In The Flora of the British Isles Clapham, Tutin and Warburg (later Clapham , Tutin and Moore) produced one of the finest keys ever produced, the descriptions are excellent but knowledge of botanical terms is required to work the key otherwise this volume is virtually impenetrable. It is a large volume though and my copy has lost its dust jacket and some point in its life. More suited for field use is The Excursion Flora of the British Isles, again by Clapham, Tutin and Warburg. This has a reduced content but, again, knowledge of terms and descriptions is required. Every couple of years I have to reacquaint myself with them as I use the books too infrequently to consign the essentials to indelible memory.

Also good is ‘Stace’ as it is often simply referred to- The New Flora of the British Isles is a more up to date book than the two previous ones mentioned and Clive Stace covers all natives, all naturalised plants, all crop plants and all recurrent casuals- 2990 species and 197 extra subspecies are covered in full together with mention of a further 559 hybrids and 564 marginal species. No wonder I cannot consign much of this to memory. Mine is the original 1991 edition. Looking at the third edition (2010) it appears to have been considerably updated and now includes a revised taxonomy as result of recent DNA sequencing work. Put my ‘Stace’ and The Flora of the British Isles together though and there is no better combination of wild flower description available.

Then we come to ‘the daddy’- The Wild Flower Key by Francis Rose has almost 1400 species covered assisted by over 1050 illustrations. It is still a portable book, if not for hiking with, however I do struggle with the keys. That is completely due to my continual lapse of memory as to biological terms, give me a good couple of weeks though and I am back up to speed with this volume.

Nailing down just a few of those strange, green flowered, Spurges with the Francis Rose Wild Flower Key

Nailing down just a few of those strange, green flowered, Spurges with the Francis Rose Wild Flower Key

I do wish that there were a decent version of one of these books, or a similar, updated version, available as an ebook/Kindle purchase. Such an item, provided I could navigate through it well and easily, would be of immense use in the field.

Books shown in featured image:

The Flora of the British Isles, Clapham, Tutin and Warburg. Cambridge, 1952

The Excursion Flora of the British Isles, Clapham, Tutin and Warburg. Cambridge, 1959

The Wildflower Key, Francis Rose. Warne, 1981. ISBN 0-7232-2418-8

The New Flora of the British Isles, Stace. Cambridge, 1991. ISBN 0-521-42793-2

Helm Identification Guides

A library for ornithologists…

Helm identification guides

Sadly, I only own a (very large) handful of the wonderful Helm Identification Guides. They are pretty pricey and due to my having another set of books, to be covered in a few weeks time, I haven’t been able to justify adding further volumes from this series to my shelves.

Pages from the Helm Finches & Sparrows identification guide. A look at this plate and it takes me right back to the hours I spent in Bedgebury Pinetum looking for the lone Scottish Crossbill in a roaming flock of Common Crossbills

Pages from the Helm ‘Finches & Sparrows’ identification guide. A look at this plate and it takes me right back to the hours I spent in Bedgebury Pinetum looking for the lone Scottish Crossbill in a roaming flock of Common Crossbills

A page from the Wildfowl volume

A page from the ‘Wildfowl’ volume

They are lovely volumes, there are updated and improved editions but these are still, almost, leading the way in bird identification. There is a wealth of background information on most species covered and they are not too impenetrable!

The plates were created by leading artists and text is by experts in their field. For example, Peter Harrison produced the Seabirds volume following 14 years of research. Part of that research consisted of him completing his three year art course, then setting off with his wife Carol in a Land Rover on a seven year seabird research expedition. For several years he worked as a deckhand aboard trawlers and crayfishing boats so that he could more easily study and sketch seabirds.

Some species have been omitted from some volumes to the annoyance of some, myself excluded. I am never going to see more than a few percent of those species included. Also, there have been changes to taxonomy in a handful of cases over the intervening years, but that is always the case. As soon as any volume is published, new research occasionally supersedes that which went before.

If you see one of these volumes at a decent price, buy it.

 

 

Books in Featured image:

Wildfowl, an identification guide to the ducks, geese and swans of the world. Steve Madge, Hilary Burn. Christopher Helm (A.C. Black), 1989. ISBN 0-7470-2201-1

Tits, Nuthatches & Treecreepers. Simon Harrap, David Quinn. Christopher Helm (A.C. Black), 1996. ISBN 0-7136-3964-4

Finches & Sparrows, an identification guide. Peter Clement, Alan Harris, John Davis. Christopher Helm (A.C. Black), 1993. ISBN 0-7136-8017-2

Seabirds, an identification guide. Peter Harrison. Christopher Helm (A.C. Black), revised reprinted edition 1989. ISBN 0-7136-3510-X

Shorebirds, an identification guide to the waders of the world. Peter Hayman, John Marchant, Tony Prater. Christopher Helm (A.C. Black), 1991. ISBN 0-7136-3509-6

Over the hills... by W. Keble Martin

A library for those who hike in the shadow of giants…

Over the hills…

by W. Keble Martin

The Reverend William Keble Martin was born in 1877 and died 1969. For sixty of those years he spent countless hours making meticulous and devoted study of the British Flora. From schooling at Marlborough he went on to take a degree in Botany at Oxford. Following ordination, he worked as a curate or vicar in the north of England and during 1918 became Chaplain to the Armed Forces in France. Later, he moved to Devon. Any spare time and holidays were frequently spent travelling the length and breadth of the UK gathering specimens and sketching them on the train home.

He was 88 when his Concise British Flora in Colour was published and it became an immediate best seller. Such was his skill that in 1966 he was asked to design a set of postage stamps, these were issued in 1967. His work is intricate and beautiful. I stand in awe at his determination and attention to detail. Somehow he found time to also serve as an active member of the first Nature Reserves Committee. His autobiography, Over the Hills…, offers a glimpse of the gentle and humble man who’s interests lay not only in botany but all branches of natural history.

This is a gentle autobiography and is never going to set the world alight, it is not riveting nor does it offer great insight, it is a simple account of the life of one of the finest botanical illustrators this country has ever produced.

Keble Martin's Concise British Flora is an old book, sadly, some reprints reproduce his delicate, accurate and fine illustrations quite poorly. There is unlikely to be any other book that shows diagnostic features any better

Keble Martin’s Concise British Flora is an old book. Sadly, some reprints reproduce his delicate, accurate and fine illustrations quite poorly. Get a good copy, there is unlikely to be any other book that shows diagnostic features on plants any better

Book in featured image:

Over the Hills…, W. Kebel Martin. Martin Joseph Ltd. 1968. 0-7181-0548-6

The Early English Barn & The Kent Oasthouse

A library for historians…

The Early English Barn & The Kent Oasthouse

by Charles A. Mcardell

 

“When considering the medieval tithe barn or the monastic grange barn the grandeur of the structure, their sheer age and size, quality of the stonework, the intricacy of the timber framing, bulk of the posts and beams, complexity of roof joints, trusses, braces, rafters, collars and purlins clearly set them apart from other farm buildings… the structures are a monument to the skill of the carpenter and the mason and have stood the test of time”

 Charlies A. Mcardell

 

The sort of information that wants you to travel miles just to view a building...

The sort of information that makes you want to travel miles just to view a building…

I live in the South-East of England, so needless to say, most of my day walks are in that part of the country. For years I would pass magnificent barns in the villages and farms I walked through. Also, this part of the country is, or was, hop growing country, so many an Oast house would be encountered to. Then one day, I came across this great book and in one fell swoop, my curiosity was answered

Passing three Oast Houses on the Greensand Way, if only I had a book from which I could learn more about them, Oh yes, I do...

Passing three Oast Houses on the Greensand Way. If only I had a book from which I could learn more about them, Oh yes, I do…

Book shown in featured image:

The Early English Barn & The Kent Oasthouse, Charles Mcardell. Camca publishers, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9562484-0-4

Lakeland Rocks and Landscape by the Cumberland Geological Society

A library for geologists…

Lakeland Rocks and Landscape. A Field Guide

by The Cumberland Geological Society

“To know how the landscape has been formed geologically adds another dimension to our appreciation of the fells”

from the foreword by Chris Bonnington

This little volume is intended for the ‘interested amateur’ with some background knowledge of the earth sciences and it succeeds admirably. Not only does it provide a geological background to the Lake District, but also suggests eighteen ‘excursions’ that take in a wide variety of the geological features exhibited in this region.

I try and make my way back to the Lakes every couple of years, this book always accompanies me. I won’t even try and pretend I understand the complicated geology of the Lakeland rocks, I don’t. But who cannot fail to be impressed upon learning that the rocks of the Borrowdale Volcanic Group, extending from Wasdale and the Duddon valley in the west through Scafell to Helvellyn, High Street and Haweswater in the east, are from 6000m thickness of rocks violently erupted in 10 million years during the mid-Ordovician period (450 Ma). No, I thought not.

 

Book in featured image:

Lakeland Rocks and Landscape, A Field Guide, The Cumberland Geological Society, Ellenbank Press, 1998 revised and updated reprinted edition. ISBN 1-873551-03-7

Naturalists' handbooks

A library for naturalists…

Naturalists’ Handbooks

The Naturalists’ Handbooks series are specifically aimed at anyone interested in natural history, that lack specialised training in the subject. I used to have a few more in the series- Common ground beetles (no. 8), Animals of the surface film (no. 12) and Animals under logs and stones (no. 22) amongst them, sadly, I lent them and they never returned.

The Handbooks were first published by Cambridge University Press, one of my volumes dates from that period, then Richmond Publishing took over. I note that they are now published by Pelagic Publishing. It is great to see they are still being produced as they all have good, fairly easy to use, keys. The ones that focus on a particular environment are just right for whiling away a couple of hours in the field. Quite a few of the volumes that I do not own focus on often over-looked invertebrate life.

Sample pages from Naturalists' Handbook No. 4- Grasshoppers

Sample pages from Naturalists’ Handbook No. 2- Grasshoppers

Books shown in featured image:

Grasshoppers, Valerie K. Brown, with plates by Judith G.Smith. Naturalist’s Handbooks 2. Richmond Publishing, 1990, revised edition. ISBN 0-85546-278-7

Insects and thistles, Margaret Redfern, with plates by Anthony J.Hopkins. Naturalists’ Handbooks 4. Cambridge University Press, 1983. ISBN 0-521-29933-0

Bumblebees, Oliver E. Prys-Jones and Sarah A. Corbet, with plates by Anthony J.Hopkins. Naturalists’ Handbooks 6. Richmond Publishing, 1991, revised edition. ISBN 0-85546-258-2

Dragonflies, Peter L. Miller, with plates by R.R. Askew. Naturalists’ Handbooks 7. Richmond Publishing, 1995, second edition, revised. ISBN 0-85546-300-7

Ants, Gary J. Skinner and Geoffrey W. Allen, with plates by Geoffrey W. Allen. Naturalists’ Handbooks 24. Richmond Publishing, 1996. ISBN 0-85546-305-8