British Garden Birds.
Video-cassette presented by David Attenborough. BBC Enterprises Ltd, 1981. Duration 72 minutes. The idea of having a simple identification guide to British garden birds which can be viewed at home on the television screen (by those fortunate enough also to have a video recorder) is excellent, and so too is this particular tape. The commentary, by David Attenborough, covers not only identification, but also general information about the species being shown. The sequence is 'field guide order', so that related species follow each other. The selection is comprehensive and in the 70 minutes the viewer sees and hears about all the species which are likely to be seen in an English garden (although some, such as Mute Swan, Hobby, Wryneck, Nightingale and Crossbill, are likely to occur in only a few!). It seems almost unfair to introduce words of adverse criticism, but it seemed strange that Willow Tit should not even be mentioned when Marsh Tit is one of the featured species; and also odd that, despite the inclusion of Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, there is no mention of Garden Warbler, when its name alone should have guaranteed its inclusion on this particular tape. The colour quality of the review tape was disappointing, but I suspect that this was the result of excessive use and that a newly purchased copy would be of the BBC's usual high standard. The value of this video tape lies not only in its use for audiences of small clubs, but also for home use by people who are not yet thoroughly familiar with the common birds of the English countryside. (Perhaps, in a few years' time, we shall have videotapes of those obscure Asiatic warblers and buntings . ..)