Best Birdwatching Sites: North- East England

Book Review

by John Hague

Best Birdwatching Sites – North East England

Brian Unwin

Buckingham Press

ISBN 0956987621

£17.95

   Another in the excellent series by Buckingham Press covers 48 sites (seven in Cleveland, 20 in Co Durham and 21 in Northumberland). The book was originally conceived and written by North East birding legend Brian Unwin who sadly died before completing the book, though he did work on it until his death. Thankfully Brian’s family and his good friend Ian Kerr, author of numerous birding guides to Holy Island. The book contains glowing tributes to Brian from both Ian and publisher David Cromack.

The introductory chapters contain the usual discussion about the practicalities of birding in the region as well as information on other wildlife that may be encountered – particularly around the key birding areas. There is also some discussion on selecting the ‘counties’ for inclusion. As a dyed-in-the-wool Yorkshireman I could be offended by the inclusion of sites south of the River Tees and thus in Yorkshire but in terms of bird watching and bird recording this would be churlish of me and I fully support the current treatment. Birds at South Gare are still on my Yorkshire list!

Coverage of birding sites is comprehensive and is broken down into key point; species likely to be seen, this gives a percentage chance of connecting with a target species (remember these are only a guide); access; a site map or series of maps and a section on background, habitat and birding tips.

The site reports are bang-up-to-date, Hartlepool Headland’s write up only misses this summer’s Orphean Warbler (as did I) as the book was in print.

I must admit to have not spent enough time in the region even though I follow Blyth Spartans (and took in a game after twitching the Greater Yellowlegs and how useful would the guide have been that day) and have seen some real Mega’s up there. I do know Hartlepool Headland well and could not find any inaccuracies. It only lacks a closing time for Verrill’s chippy!

This book will be like taking a local birder into the field, such is its completeness, when I do finally book that week on Holy Island.

One of the best things about the Best Bird Watching Series is the consistency across the series, not only in terms of the excellent research but of the overall design. You can open any book and easily find what you need. This book enlivened by some wonderful artwork by Richard Allen stands as a fitting tribute to Brian that raises the bar even higher in this indispensible series.

Also visit John Hague’s Blog

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