The Seabirds of Britain and Ireland. By S. Cramp, W. R. P. Bourne and D. Saunders. Collins, London, 1974. 287 pages; four colour and eight black-and-white plates; 32 maps, linedrawings. £3.50.
This long-awaited book gives an excellent survey of British seabirds, in both a national and an international setting. Most of the well-written text is taken up with accounts of individual species, but there are also good short surveys of the biology of seabirds and the threats to their well-being. The book is tastefully illustrated by a good selection of black-and-white photographs and line-drawings; also four mediocre colour plates by Robert Gillmor. Twenty-seven of the 32 maps (drawn by Crispin Fisher) depict the ranges and colonies of the British seabirds. It is a pity that size differences of colonies could not have been more clearly brought out, as in some maps with overlapping red dots it is difficult to decide what order of magnitude is meant. I checked details about the species I know best, the Puffin, and noted the fallacy that the young Puffin is deserted for eight days prior to fledging; this was disproved by Richard Perry as long ago as 1948. There are also some discrepancies between the table of colonies and those plotted on the map: for example, the Rathlin and Caernarvonshire colonies are omitted from the map. However, this is a generally well-produced book which deserves a place in every ornithologist's library. Nonetheless, a book of this sort deserves a deeper analysis