Best Birdwatching Sites: Dorset, by Neil Gartshore

Published on 17 April 2012 in Book reviews

Buckingham Press, 2011; pbk, 248pp, colour maps, black-and-white illustrations; ISBN 978-0-9569876-0-0

Subbuteo code M21088, £17.95

Dorset’s newest hotspot – Longham Lakes. Indeed, sites have been chosen to cover the whole range of Dorset’s diverse habitats, from coastal cliffs and estuaries to inland woods, chalk grasslands and its precious heaths.

The book starts with some background information about the county and its habitats, along with a section providing a flavour of what to expect in a given month. The site accounts follow, with each location given a brief introduction, followed by a list of target birds and the likelihood of seeing them at that particular site given as a percentage. These figures are obviously subjective but they do give a general feeling for your chances of connecting with a given species at a particular site. The only one that really raised my eyebrows was the 75% chance of seeing a Dipper Cinclus cinclus at Lyme Regis. Despite visiting the town several times over the last couple of years, I’ve yet to see one on the river there, although that’s perhaps more a reflection on me as others are generally more successful! Each site is then described in more detail, with interesting background information, suggested routes and that all-important local knowledge – where exactly to look for certain species. Clear and concise maps for each location accompany the details of how to get there by both car and public transport. Much of the birding information has come from the author’s visits to the various sites over many years and gives a good representation of what the visitor can realistically expect to see.

Towards the back of the book is the Dorset Bird List, which is impressively up to date, with all 417 species on the county list and even the two potentially new species which are currently pending acceptance (at the time of writing this review). Each species is given a concise status report and in certain cases the key sites within the county are also provided. There is also is an entertaining glossary of birding terms followed by a comprehensive list of useful contacts and full details of public transport and the viability of disabled access to each site.

In summary this book provides a wealth of birding-related information about the county and would I’m sure prove invaluable for both holidaying birders and day visitors to this popular county. Even though, as a resident of Dorset, I’m familiar with the majority of the sites treated, reading this book has given me a few ideas of new locations to try out in the coming year.

Kevin Lane

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