By Les Beletsky. Academic Press, London, 1998. 488 pages; 104 colour plates and numerous colour photographs and line-drawings. ISBN 0-212-084811-2. Softback, £19.95. At last, a single book which helps the visitor to identify all the larger-than-an-insect forms of life likely to be seen - 350 of the most common amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and fish - plus well-written information on distribution, ecology, behaviour, habitats, conservation and ecotourism ethics, with helpful travel notes. The 200 birds are well depicted, despite disturbing differences of scale. Other plates range from familiar mammals, such as Agouti, Paca, Margay, Tayra and Grison, to the less familiar Mexican Caecilian, Mussurance, Tamandua, Cacomistle, Margate, Graysby, Encrusting Gorgonian, Bulb Tunicate, and even the aptly-named Donkey Dung Sea Cucumber. If you are intrigued, buy the book. A splendid all-round natural-history primer and travel guide. BRYAN BLAND By Richard Ranft & Nigel Cleere. Pica Press, Sussex, 1998. 73 minutes. ISBN 1-873-403-CD-1. £14.99. This superb CD must be essential field equipment for anyone interested in nightjars and their allies. Covering 107 species, only 12 short of the World total, this fascinating compilation ranges from the clicks of echolocating Oilbirds Steatornis caripensis to the piercing shriek of Abyssinian Nightjar Caprimulgus poliocephalus. Tracks are generally of such high quality that the guide is an entertainment as much as a tool. It will be particularly valuable in the African, Southeast Asian and South American tropics. It will encourage many (including me!), previously daunted by the inadequacy of pictures and words, to put more effort into ID.

Issue 6
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