This is an impressive work – it lists all British species that have English names. That’s from A to Z; Aaron’s Rod to Zipperback. I did know something about Aaron’s Rod but everything I know about Zipperback (what it is, where it lives geographically and in terms of habitat, and how it got its memorable name) I got from this book.
The trouble with reviewing reference books is that the reviewer cannot be expected to have as much knowledge as the compiler, and I have to take on trust the accuracy of vast swathes of the entries here. But I know a bit about birds, and a few other terrestrial taxa, and it looks accurate in the areas I know about, so I’ll trust this book in other areas too.
The test of a book like this is not whether it is a cracking good read (I can’t say that it is) but whether it is full of useful and accurate information and I think it passes that test. I will use it a lot in future because I need a bit of information on lots of species and this will be a good place to start. And although it is fact-packed and I haven’t found any jokes in the text so far, I have found myself reading the entry for one species or group of species and then the next, and the next and …
I can only admire the huge amount of work that has gone into this.
The Pelagic Dictionary of Natural History of the British Isles by Peter Jarvis is published by Pelagic.