The Shell Bird Book. By James Fisher. Ebury Press and Michael Joseph, London, 1966. 344 pages; 20 colour plates and 150 blackand-white illustrations. 25 s. The title of this book gives little help to the intending purchaser. Without knowing the author, he might well envisage another routine survey, competent but dull, the equivalent of the Shell monolith outstaring the Thames rather than this rich, rambling baroque mansion of many attractive rooms. James Fisher, ornithologist, bird-watcher and much more besides, an enthusiast for everything connected, however, remotely, with birds, gives us some of his studies into a medley of topics, reflecting his enthusiasms new and old. He writes with verve and originality, punning outrageously from the very first page; listing, assessing, revealing; always readable and exciting, casting a light on odd corners of ornithology still little explored by amateurs or professionals. He begins with a full survey of the fossil record of British birds, describing in detail all the authenticated records, their sites and history. An aspect which has been neglected in this country for many years, he is right to stress its importance (and the difficulties involved) and to press for more research to be done. Then he moves to the written record, tracing the first mention of each species in our literature, with fascinating sidelights on the early chroniclers and poets and later the more specialist writers. This is followed by two chapters on the birds of Britain, the first dealing with the geographical origins of our breeding birds
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