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Useful Guides and Resources

It's been a while since I wrote anything on this blog but we've been incredibly busy - the woodland hide has had a great season but gone a little quiet now as birds seek natural resources and breed., the other hides are on the move - more to come on that - and we've been hosting a range of video production teams, safaris and guided walks!

Often when out and about on these activities I'm asked about recommended reading, apps, and tools so I thought it was about time I wrote a blog post about my personal experiences - rather than writing a fresh email every time!

In the field;

Whilst out and about there are a load of useful tools and guides I like to recommend to people. I've listed some highlights below;

Seek by iNaturalist;

Many of you will be using ID apps - particularly for plant identification I'm sure - but Seek is my go-to choice for a couple of reasons;

  • It's easy to use and covers a wide range of subjects - Seek works for plants, insects, funghi, birds, mammals. Basically as long as you can get a picture of it, Seek can help you identify it.

  • Integration with the iNaturalist network means if the app can't figure it out then you can post your image for others to comment on and identify.

  • The data gathered by the app can be shown on maps and useful for others to find and identify local wildlife.

Available for Android and iOS - download here

Merlin Bird ID

Another fantastic app. This is great for anything and everything bird related - again there are loads of apps out there but for me, these make Merlin my first choice;

  • Comprehensive downloadable offline packs for regions

  • The step-by-step ID is a really simple way to help people identify the birds they are seeing and fairly accurate - it works a bit like a dichotomous key for any familiar with this

  • The Sound ID is excellent - it has a live display so you can see the app identifying birds in real time, really useful for learning calls and fairly accurate. Other apps I have used sometimes record a clip, then analyze it, sometimes leaving you with a long list of birds and not knowing which is which!

  • My favourite feature on this app though is the Explore tab. In this mode you can select your location and time of year and it will provide a list of all the likely bird species you are to see at that location - great for travelling and new places!

Available for Android and iOS - download here

Field Studes Council Fold-out Guides

If you prefer something a little more traditional - or perhaps are in a location with limited connectivity - then these guides are a great addition to your bag. Available for a range of subjects from grass types, to invertebrates and vertebrates. Also great for getting kids into nature!

Available from NHBS here or directly from FSC

If you want more comprehensive guides then I personally have a large collection of Collins guides at home for further information.

Interesting Reads;

The other thing I often refer to whilst out on walks is information I have picked up from the various books I have read, or listened to over the years. Some of these are controversial and some will get you thinking but they're all a great way to learn more about the world we live in. All links are for NHBS - please use this instead of Amazon where possible, it's a fantastic company and we need these places around!

  • Entangled Life - A well-known book on the overlooked world of fungi, fundamental to the world around us and a great way to get a high-level understanding. Pairs nicely with the Fantastic Fungi film mentioned below.

  • Silent Earth - Another great read. This book looks at the importance of insects in the world we live it. Troubling at times but knowledge we should all have.

  • The Forager's Calendar - As anyone who has met me will know, I'm fascinated by the edible larder on our doorstep. Learning this takes years but this handy book gives you a breakdown throughout the year of what you can expect to find, where and how to use it.

  • Wilding - A book about the Knepp project in West Sussex. Whilst there are mixed opinions on the project itself this book gives a great insight into the challenges Isabella and Charlie faced on their mission

  • Feral - Another favourite, the tone in this book is great. George Monbiot takes us through tales of travel and wildlife whilst looking at how we have transformed our ecosystems

  • Who Own's England - Read with caution, it may get your blood boiling! A great look at land ownership in England.

  • Rebirding - A personal favourite, fairly opinionated but a great insight into what once was and some of the challenges facing nature today.

  • The Genius of Birds - Be amazed by our feathered friends. A global look at birds and how they have learnt to adapt and survive.

  • Invasive Aliens - The British Isles diversity has expanded over the years by invasive species, this book takes a look at some of the species that now call here home.

  • Bringing Back the Beaver - A great book by Derek Gow looking at the importance of these ecological engineers - a must-read and pitched perfectly that all can enjoy.

  • Back to Nature - Love him or hate him there's no arguing that Chris Packham has a voice in this area. A great read looking at what's on our doorsteps

  • An Atlas of Endangered Species - A great book by Megan McCubbin that can be read with the family.

Worthy Watches

I sometimes mention these two films during my work so figured I would include them here - you may have to search around for where you can watch them;

  • Kiss the Ground - It all starts with the soil - without healthy soil we can not surive. This movie takes a look at it's importance, what we're doing to it (particuarlly in the US) and how we can recover.

  • Fantastic Fungi - A easy watching look at Fungi and their importance and impact. A nice partner to the Entangled Life book mentioned above

I think that covers the bulk of it but I am sure there are books and bits that I have missed. Hopefully, you find this post helpful and find something you'll enjoy or learn from!


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