The Common Tern. By Rob Hume, Hamlyn, London, 1993. 127 pages; 20 colour plates; 4 colour illustrations; 27 line-drawings. ISBN 0-540-01266-1. Paperback £9.99. This second title in a series designed to be 'scientifically accurate but not overburdened with scientific jargon' successfully achieves that aim. To know terns is to love them for their grace, romantic journeys and survival against the poor odds we make for them--including reluctance to control their increasingly significant predator, the pretty little fox Vulpes vulpes. While it might have said more on the birds' protection, here indeed is a book by a man who loves terns very dearly, and it shows. Rob Hume has constructed a reader-friendly treatise from an ocean of literature, using much from kindred spirits George and Anne Marples, who gave us Sea Terns or Sea Swallows back in 1934, and from his own observations. The line-drawings and colour illustrations facilitate separation from the look-alike Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea and Roseate Tern S. dougallii, but are a bit arty: on pages 43 and 45, for example, there are unhelpful differences in the vital wing pattern of the Common Tern S. hirundo. The photographs are excellent. Where 18 pages are devoted to points of identification, a summary a la Svensson would have been welcome, and a map of the Common Tern's breeding range around the whole of the northern hemisphere would have widened appreciation of this species. It was a small mistake to say that none bred at Dungeness in 1956-58. This is a book to be enjoyed. 

Issue 11
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