Weather and Bird Behaviour. By Norman Elkins. Illustrated by Crispin Fisher. Poyser, Calton, 1983. 239 pages; 31 black-and-white plates; over 30 line-drawings. £12.60.
The subject matter of the book deals mainly with the effects of the normal and abnormal variability of atmospheric conditions, over hours, days and weeks, on the behaviour of birds within the annua l weather cycle. The range of subjects is wide, describing the basic effects on the behavioural characteristics of flight, feeding, aerial feeding, breeding, comfort, and migration, including the particular conditions for the migration of soaring birds and those for seabirds, the disruptive effects of extreme weather, and those leading to migrational drift, displacement and vagrancy. The first chapter explains the major features of the global atmospheric circulations and, in particular, those systems affecting the northern hemisphere, with their attendant cyclones and anticyclones. The author is a professional meteorologist and an experienced amateur ornithologist: the unique qualifications necessary to achieve the synthesis of the two disciplines over such a wide range of topics. The book certainly fills a gap in the birdwatcher's library, and should provide greater stimulus to those eager minds trying to interpret what they have observed, and why they should include weather details in their reports. After knowing where to look for your birds, the weather then tells you when and how to find them, and this book provides many clues to make birdwatching more satisfying, whether censusing or tracking down those elusive vagrants.