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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;

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

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

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!

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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