The Birds of Louth by John Clarkson
Perfect bound B6 80pp
Includes 68 colour photographs
£5 inc p&p up to 1 st Aug. Contact the author John Clarkson . Available on 1 st Aug 2007 at Louth Museum for £4.50
thereafter at £4.99 from the museum and Wright's bookshop, Louth
and from the author at £4.99 plus p&p
John Clarkson has produced a useful status guide to the birds of his local town and its environs which could be the impetus for a further set of publications covering areas of the county where local birdwatchers record the state of their avifauna. It is the nature of large recording areas, typically counties, that the bird records which are submitted have to be severely cropped to leave a viable amount of information for publication. Inevitably large numbers of records which are of significance to local observers have to be left out as they are usually not of such significance on a wider scale and there is then the tendency for these records to be lost in the archive and never see the light of day. Researchers can find it particularly difficult to track down such records at a later date and in extreme cases such as where an observer has died and his records destroyed important records can easily be lost. John has searched his local archives and contacted living observers to make this list of his local area as comprehensive as possible. The survey area is described and mapped and an introduction to Louth landscapes provides a feel for the location. The species list which forms the bulk book extends to 56 pages and includes records of 176 species from an area of approximately 19km² centred upon the middle of the market town. The species texts include a reference to their status in Lincolnshire with a brief summary of their occurrence pattern in the local area and then a summary of known records. The species texts are broken up with a series of 65 bird photographs by Lincolnshire photographers and John's own landscapes and bird photos. The reproduction of the photographs is of excellent quality and the typeface and layout are easy on the eye and well set out. A four page spread at the back of the book compares breeding bird records for all of the 1km² in the area obtained during the 1980-89 Lincolnshire Atlas project (which back room did that disappear into?) with a follow up survey John undertook in 1984; this details the varying fortunes of breeding specie sin the area in conjunction with loss of habitats and the changing fortunes of some of our better known species.
As a local reference this book is invaluable; browsing some of the entries you come across some odd records; I was surprised to find only one recorded Tree Pipit compared to say two Great Grey Shrikes and five Pied Flycatchers and again just a single Long-eared Owl, surely an under-recorded species. There is no mention of the fact that the Louth Dippers were continental Black-bellied birds which is a little odd but all in all this is a work which will hopefully inspire other local birders to get together an produce summaries of birds' status in their own areas of the county unlocking those treasure troves of hidden records before its too late!