Watching Birds. By James Fisher, revised edition by Jim Flegg, T. & A. D. Poyser, Berkhamsted, 1974. 159 pages; 14 black-and-white photographs, line illustrations. £2.80.
Many birdwatchers have been guided in their first steps in ornithology by James Fisher's book Watching Birds. All will have kept this charming little book at heart, and will surely welcome the revised reprint that has been edited by Jim Flegg. James Fisher first published his book in 1941, when he acted as secretary to the British Trust for Ornithology, so it seems most fitting that the last director of the BTO should have undertaken the revision. A considerable part of the success of the Trust in its early days was due to the impact of Watching Birds with its healthily practical approach to the subject. Jim Flegg modestly states in his Preface that he has only up-dated the book, but in scanning its pages one soon discovers that he has had to rewrite several chapters entirely. The original author could not have foreseen the enormous development in 'the tools of birdwatching' and the sophistication of some of the present-day equipment. Nor would he have imagined that the number of birds ringed per year should rise from 50,000 to over half a million, presenting us with a far more detailed knowledge of migration. Census work has grown from accurate figures for a very few species and rough estimates for the rest to a sentitive tool monitoring the quality of Britain's environment for its birdlife.