The Collins Press continues to publish excellent nature books; the latest two offerings are "Ireland's Garden Birds: A Guide to Attracting and Identifying Garden Birds" by Oran O'Sullivan and Jim Wilson, and "Whittled Away-Ireland's Vanishing Nature" by Pádraig Fogarty.
First published in 2008, the new edition of "Ireland's Garden Birds", the popular and highly-successful guide for bird lovers and gardeners, has been fully updated with more photos, a clearer layout and the latest information. In a sign of the times, the Great Spotted Woodpecker is added as a garden bird evidencing the fact that it is now breeding regularly and is turning up at bird tables and in gardens.
Lavishly illustrated throughout with excellent colour photographs by Mark Carmody and others, the book is divided into two parts. Part 1 introduces the concepts of how to turn any size of garden into a haven for wild birds and other wildlife with descriptions of all the different habitats that can be created in a garden.
A planner details what needs to be done in the garden each month with notes on what birds are likely to be seen. How to feed and care for wild birds is described with details on the different kinds of feeders, bird tables, what foods to put out, nest boxes, troubleshooting, dealing with sick and injured birds, etc.
Part 2 explains how to identify garden birds with an illustrated two-page spread on all the species likely to be seen. This essential companion for anyone interested in garden birds retails at €14.99 in paperback.
"Whittled Away-Ireland's Vanishing Nature" by Pádraig Fogarty is an insightful and provocative book by a professional ecologist. Retailing at €19.99 in hardback and also available as an eBook, its 376 pages chart the low priority with which we as a people regard our natural heritage. Writing in an authoritative and engaging style, the author details the alarming and ongoing whittling away of our wildlife through overfishing, industrial-scale farming, exploitation of our bogs and pollution.
But it is not all doom and gloom. The overall conclusion of this thought-provoking and valuable book is ultimately hopeful. A timely call to arms, it presents an alternative path that could lead us to a brighter future, a better foundation for our tourism and agricultural sectors, a more sustainable and greener way of living and a richer inheritance for unborn generations.
The big question is, of course, do we have the desire to make it happen?