The Oxford Dictionary of Natural History. Edited by Michael Allaby. (OUP, 1985. £20.00) Despite three years at university studying botany, two studying zoology, and a further three researching in ecology, 90% of the words in this dictionary are still totally unknown to me. Even after reading the definitions, I am little the wiser in many cases. This is not the book in which to look up the meaning of 'rut' or 'gonys' (neither is included). The definition of 'imago' is not very helpful, since it defines it as 'The fully developed adult among pterygote insects', but 'pterygote' does not merit an entry. These are just examples from a book with a title suggesting that it might be of use to the amateur naturalist, but which in reality is far more likely to be of value to the professional scientist. There are no illustrations (perhaps not expected in a dictionary, but many books cajled dictionaries these days are really well-illustrated encyclopedias).
Birds Beyond Belfast: a guide for birdwatchers. By Belfast RSPB Members' Group. (RSPB, 1985. Paper back £2.95) This 118-page paperback is a companion volume to the 66-page Birds Around Belfast published in 1981. Both have been produced by the Belfast RSPB Members' Group, and together they cover the whole of Northern Ireland. After a foreword by Bill Oddie, the well-known foreword writer, and an introduction and acknowledgments, the text is divided into the six counties, within each of which are set out the various birdwatching localities, shown on accompanying maps.