Nature Reading
Books I recommend

One man's passion for the Purple Emperor Butterfly ...this is the story of BB's (Denys Watkins-Pitchford) lifetime mission to conserve 'the most regal of British butterflies' A treasure trove of extracts from his many books and magazine articles featuring the Purple Emperor and other butterflies. Profusely illustrated with his superb colour illustrations, inimitable monotone craperboard drawings and other colour photographs. Foreward by Matthew Oates, the National Trusts specialist on butterflies, together with contributions from many others who knew and supported BB in conservation work

 A wondrous enigma, the Purple Emperor is our most elusive and least-known butterfly - we glimpse it only through fissures in its treetop world, yet this giant insect has fascinated us for centuries and has even inspired its own 'Emperoring' language. Matthew Oates became captivated by the Purple Emperor following his first sighting as a boy. He has studied it assiduously ever since, devoting his life to trying to unravel the Emperor's secrets.

His Imperial Majesty takes us on a journey, beginning with a dalliance into the bizarre history of our engagement with the butterfly, with daring doings and gross eccentricities from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Subsequent chapters explore all aspects of this remarkable butterfly's life cycle, including behaviour, habitat preferences, life history and conservation, all relayed in Matthew's unique, informative and witty style. Not so long ago, our knowledge of the Emperor was largely based on a blend of mythology and assumption. This book dispels the fabrications and reveals all about the Purple Emperor - the king of British butterflies. 

This is our Blue Planet: a beautiful blue marble suspended in a sea of stars...

Unlike billions of other worlds in the Milky Way, 71 per cent of our Blue Planet is covered by ocean. It's home to the greatest diversity of life on Earth but is our least explored habitat; we've better maps of Mars than of the ocean floor.

With so much more to discover, take a deep breath and dive into a wondrous world beneath the waves. Explore coral reefs that shimmer in a kaleidoscope of colours. Venture to the bottom of the ocean where creatures beyond your wildest imagination live in the dark. Chase sea otters through kelp forest seas, and glide the open ocean with humpback whales.

Discover all there is to love about our Blue Planet, the stories of its inhabitants, and realise how you can help protect this wilderness beneath the waves.

In collaboration with BBC Earth, this illustrated non-fiction book captures the wonder, beauty, and emotion of the landmark Blue Planet II TV series.

 

Rebirding takes the long view of Britain's wildlife decline, from the early taming of our landscape and its long-lost elephants and rhino's to fenland drainage, the removal of the cornerstone species such as wild cattle, horses, beavers and boar- and forward in time to the infestation of our modern landscapes and the collapse of invertebrate populations. It looks at the reasons key species are vanishing, the landscapes becoming less diverse. Rather than restoring ecosystems, in a failing attempt to halt wildlife decline. The irony being is that 94% of Britain is not built on at all. Benedict Macdonald ids a conservation writer, field director in wildlife television, and a keen naturulist;passionate about restoring Britain's wildlife.

 In Wilding, Isabella Tree tells the story of the 'Knepp experiment', a pioneering rewilding project in West Sussex, using free-roaming grazing animals to create new habitats for wildlife. Part gripping memoir, part fascinating account of the ecology of our countryside, Wilding is, above all, an inspiring story of hope.

Forced to accept that intensive farming on the heavy clay of their land at Knepp was economically unsustainable, Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell made a spectacular leap of faith: they decided to step back and let nature take over. Thanks to the introduction of free-roaming cattle, ponies, pigs and deer - proxies of the large animals that once roamed Britain - the 3,500 acre project has seen extraordinary increases in wildlife numbers and diversity in little over a decade.

Extremely rare species, including turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons, lesser spotted woodpeckers and purple emperor butterflies, are now breeding at Knepp, and populations of other species are rocketing. The Burrells' degraded agricultural land has become a functioning ecosystem again, heaving with life - all by itself.

Personal and inspirational, Wilding is an astonishing account of the beauty and strength of nature, when it is given as much freedom as possible.

 10 years on from the first, groundbreaking, Planet Earth, we use the most incredible advances in technology and scientific discovery to bring you the most exciting and immersive picture of our world's wildlife yet. 

With over 250 breathtaking photographs and stills from the BBC Natural History Unit's spectacular footage, this is an extraordinary new look at the complex life of some of the most amazing places on Planet Earth. 

Each chapter reveals an environment - some never-before-seen, some astonishingly familiar - defined by a unique set of rules required for survival. From the most desolate desert to the depths of the jungle, from blistering heat and freezing cold to perpetual darkness and deadly UV, discover how a whole host of creatures have adapted to life in the most extreme conditions. And how they compete with one another to become the largest, the fastest, the most poisonous, or most devious - all in a bid to survive. 

An excellent Poyser monograph, more in the nature of a practical manual than a descriptive treatise. Sections include: Finding moths in the daytime, and at night when they visit natural attractions such as sallow catkins and overripe blackberries; The responsible use of light traps; Successful techniques for finding and rearing caterpillars; and How to attract moths to the garden, with hints on photographic techniques.

 

 

Matthew Oates has led a butterflying life. Naturalist, conservationist and passionate lover of poetry, he has devoted himself to these exalted creatures: to their observation, to singing their praises, and to ensuring their survival. Based on fifty years of detailed diaries, In Pursuit of Butterflies is the chronicle of this life.

 

Oates leads the reader through a lifetime of butterflying, across the mountain tops, the peat bogs, sea cliffs, meadows, heaths, the chalk downs and great forests of the British Isles. Full of humour, zeal, digression, expertise and anecdote, this book provides a profound encounter with one of our great butterfly lovers, and with a half-century of butterflies in Britain.

 

Mapping the latest conservation breakthroughs and scientific discoveries, Packham and McCubbin make a water-tight case for rewilding and reconnecting with nature.

 

One thing has become clear this year - we need nature more than ever. And it needs us too.

From our balconies and gardens to our woodlands, national parks and beyond, Back to Nature captures the essence of how we feel about the wildlife outside our windows. Through personal stories, conservation breakthroughs and scientific discoveries, it explores the wonder and the solace of nature, and the ways in which we can connect with it - and protect it.

 

 

 

 

 

A remarkable look at the rarest butterflies, how global changes threaten their existence, and how we can bring them back from near-extinction

Most of us have heard of such popular butterflies as the Monarch or Painted Lady. But what about the Fender's Blue? Or the St. Francis' Satyr? Because of their extreme rarity, these butterflies are not well-known, yet they are remarkable species with important lessons to teach us. The Last Butterflies spotlights the rarest of these creatures-some numbering no more than what can be held in one hand. Drawing from his own first-hand experiences, Nick Haddad explores the challenges of tracking these vanishing butterflies, why they are disappearing, and why they are worth saving. He also provides startling insights into the effects of human activity and environmental change on the planet's biodiversity.

 

In a word dont leave home with out it. This ready reckoner has been a boon especially out on my field trips, a constant companion.  Thoroughly recommended, and is beautifully and profusely illustrated. The amount of information in this book is remarkable and is of the highest standard. I have a lot of books about flora and fauna, but this book I always turn to first. 

 

Butterflies animate our summers but the fifty-nine species found in the British Isles can be surprisingly elusive. Some bask unseen at the top of trees in London parks; others lurk at the bottom of damp bogs in Scotland. A few survive for months, while other ephemeral creatures only fly for three days. Several are virtually extinct.

This bewitching book charts Patrick Barkham's quest to find each of them - from the Adonis Blue to the Dingy Skipper - in one unforgettable summer. Wry, attentive, full of infectious delight and curiosity, written with a beautifully light touch, The Butterfly Isles is a classic of British nature writing.

 

Awash with spectacular photography from across the globe, Seven Worlds One Planet accompanies a major new nature documentary series. Delineating the creatures and natural phenomena that make each continent so unique, this exquisite book is a breath-taking tour of the world and an urgent reminder of the fragility of so many species.

Welcome home. A place 200 million years in the making.

Long ago, our planet had only one gigantic land mass. Then something monumental happened. That supercontinent ruptured and seven different worlds were born. Each of those worlds - or continents - evolved, and continues to evolve, its own way of life. From the jungle of the Congo or the majestic Himalayas to the densely populated wilds of Europe or the comparatively isolated Australasia,

Seven Worlds, One Planet explores the natural wonders that give each of our continents its distinct character. Following the animals that have made these iconic environments their home, it discovers spectacular wildlife stories that reveal what makes each of these seven worlds unique.

With a foreword by Sir David Attenborough and over 250 breathtaking images, including stills from the BBC Natural History Unit's spectacular footage, Seven Worlds, One Planet is a stunning exploration of the planet, and the worlds within it, that we call home.

 

Published to celebrate Donald Russwurm's ninety-fifth birthday, and containing eighty-four colour plates featuring over four hundred specimens, each one carefully observed and accurately painted by him, this book provides one of the most comprehensive treatments yet on the subject of variation in British butterflies. The underlying factors and genetic principles behind many of the striking aberrations figured are explained; many previously unpublished photographs of new and extreme aberrations are also included.

 A uniquely personal look about butterflies and about the people who love them -- which, surely, is most of us.
Much more than just another field guide or a natural history of butterflies. Rainbow Dust explores the ways in which butterflies delight and inspire us all, naturalists and non-naturalists alike. In this uniquely eloquent and deeply personal book, naturalist Peter Marren explores the special place that butterflies hold in our hearts, in our cultural lives and in our imagination and recalls his own lifetime's obsession with these ephemeral creatures.
Rainbow Dust is a celebration of butterflies; one shot through with a sense of wonder but also of sorrow at what we are losing

Two of the most important books you will ever read

The Earth’s life-support machine, the thing we humans rely upon for everything we need, runs on its biodiversity. Yet the way we live on Earth now is sending it into a decline. I have been a witness to this decline. This book contains my witness statement, and my vision for the future – the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake, and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right.’ - Sir David Attenborough

A Life On Our Planet: My Witness Statement and Vision for the Future is David’s witness statement, reflecting on his remarkable career exploring and documenting the natural world, and the decline of the planet’s environment and biodiversity he’s observed first-hand in that time. An intimate, urgent and impassioned book borne out of a lifetime’s experience and knowledge, it also presents his view on the future that lies ahead if we continue as we are, and a plan for how to avoid that future.

 

THE OFFICAL COMPANION TO THE GROUNDBREAKING NEW NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY SERIES

‘The future of all life on this earth depends on our willingness to take action now’ - David Attenborough
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With a foreword by Sir David Attenborough, breathtakingly beautiful still photography, specially commissioned maps and graphics, and compelling text expanding on the remarkable TV stories and giving the reader a depth of information that is impossible on screen, this companion to the groundbreaking NETFLIX series presents a whole new view of the place we call home.

Featuring some of the world's rarest creatures and previously unseen parts of the Earth—from deep oceans to remote forests to ice caps—Our Planet takes nature-lovers deep into the science of our natural world.

Revealing the most amazing sights on Earth in unprecedented ways, alongside stories of the ways humans are affecting the world’s ecosystems—from the wildebeest migrations in Africa to the penguin colonies of Antarctica—this book captures in one concise narrative a fundamental message: