Ducks of Britain and Europe. By M. A. Ogilvie. T. & A. D. Poyser, Berkhamsted, 1975. 206 pages; 15 pages of colour illustrations; numerous line drawings and maps. £5.00.
For many ornithologists, and all wildfowlers, ducks have a special fascination. This very interesting book gives a high proportion of the known facts about the forty-two species or subspecies of ducks which have been recorded in Europe. Separate chapters deal with general behaviour, identification, breeding, distribution and status, migration and conservation. The author has been a member of the research staff of the Wildfowl Trust for fifteen years and this experience enables him to write about ducks with authority. He also writes well, steering a path between the popular and the erudite, and every reader--except, possibly, another duck specialist--will find much to interest and inform. The section on identification is the longest, taking up about one-third of the text, and is accompanied by colour plates by the author's wife, showing the male and female of each species in flight. The breeding and eclipse plumage of both sexes is described in detail and there are notes on the appearance of downy young and immature birds. The book does not set out to be a field guide, but more information is given than is compressed into the standard guides and the author suggests it may be of assistance for checking or confirmation. Indeed it may, but it would have to be after the event as the book is too large to carry in the pocket.