The Snow Bunting. By Desmond Nethersole-Thompson. Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh, 1966. 316 pages; 1 coloured and 18 blackand-white photographs; 11 text figures. 45s. A most arduous scientific project has at last come to fruition in this book. The challenge of studying one of Britain's rarest breeding birds in the appallingly difficult weather of the Cairngorms was the author's driving force. He and his family spent 263 nights camping on the summits, with meagre food and equipment. The work was done on a shoestring, isolated from fellow ornithologists for most of the year and far from libraries and other facilities usually considered essential for research. This book could have been shorter and cheaper by omitting many personal stories in the scientific chapters, and in three chapters about the author's early days of bird-watching and egg-collecting and about his life's experiences. It is these personal details, however, that make this a highly readable and colourful book. There are nine chapters on the Snow Buntings he got to know so well, on the people who have looked for Snow Buntings, on the birds' courtship, territorial behaviour and voice, and on their nests, incubation, eggs and young; five on their breeding habitat, on their enemies and food, on their numbers and distribution in Scotland, on the racial origin of Scottish Snow Buntings, and on their changes in status; and one on world distribution, numbers and movements. Another chapter by Derek Ratcliffe gives an excellent description of Scottish mountain vegetation, and there are detailed appendices
Volume: 
Issue 4

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