Natural History Books
Dedicated botanist Professor Stefan Buczacki talks through the natural history of churchyards, cemeteries and burial grounds in this informative and entertaining book.
- RRP £15.00
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Complete with beautiful photographs, illustrations and literary quotes, the naturalist and gardener (whose name you may recognise from Radio 4's Gardener's Question Time) covers everything you ever wanted to know about churchyards - from how they're featured in landscapes to the plants, mammals and birds that reside in them.
He also explores the history of churchyards and the important role of conservation in their future. He also, of course, looks at the mighty churchyard yew.
The stick is a universal toy. Totally natural, all-purpose, free, it offers limitless opportunities for outdoor play and adventure and it provides a starting point for an active imagination and the raw material for transformation into almost anything! As New York's Strong National Museum of Play pointd out when they selected a stick for inclusion in their National Toy Hall of Fame, 'It can be a Wild West horse, a medieval knight's sword, a boat on a stream, or a slingshot with a rubber band ...' In this book Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield offer masses of suggestions for things to do with a stick, in the way of adventures and bushcraft, creative and imaginative play, games, woodcraft and conservation, music and more.
- RRP £9.99
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"Sensitive, thoughtful and poetic. Rob Cowen rakes over a scrap of land with forensic care, leading us into a whole new way of looking at the world." (Michael Palin). 'I am dreaming of the edge-land again' After moving from London to a new home in Yorkshire, Rob Cowen finds himself on unfamiliar territory, disoriented, hemmed in by winter and yearning for the nearest open space. So one night, he sets out to find it - a pylon-slung edge-land, a tangle of wood, meadow, field and river on the outskirts of town. Despite being in the shadow of thousands of houses, it feels unclaimed, forgotten, caught between worlds, and all the more magical for it. Obsessively revisiting this contested ground, Cowen ventures deeper into its many layers and lives, documenting its changes through time and season and unearthing histories that profoundly resonate and intertwine with transformative events happening in his own life. Blurring the boundaries of memoir, natural history and novel, Common Ground offers nothing less than an enthralling new way of writing about nature and our experiences within it. We encounter the edge-land's inhabitants in immersive, kaleidoscopic detail as their voices and visions rise from the fields and woods: beasts, birds, insects, plants and people - the beggars, sages and lovers across the ages. Startlingly personal and poetic, this is a unique portrait of a forgotten realm and a remarkable evocation of how, over the course of a year, a man came to know himself once more by unlocking it. But, above all, this is a book that reasserts a vital truth: nature isn't just found in some remote mountain or protected park. It is all around us. It is in us. It is us.
- RRP £8.99
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What really goes on in the long grass? Meadowland gives an unique and intimate account of an English meadow's life from January to December, together with its biography. In exquisite prose, John Lewis-Stempel records the passage of the seasons from cowslips in spring to the hay-cutting of summer and grazing in autumn, and includes the biographies of the animals that inhabit the grass and the soil beneath: the badger clan, the fox family, the rabbit warren,the skylark brood and the curlew pair, among others. Their births, lives, and deaths are stories that thread through the book from first page to last.
- RRP £8.99
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In Richard Mabey's characteristically lyrical and informative tone, The Cabaret of Plants explores plant species which have challenged our imaginations, awoken that cliched but real human emotion of wonder, and upturned our ideas about history, science, beauty and belief. Picked from every walk of life, they encompass crops, weeds, medicines, religious gathering-places and a water lily named after a queen. Beginning with pagan cults and creation myths, the cultural significance of plants has burst upwards, sprouting into forms as diverse as the panacea (the cure-all plant ginseng, a single root of which can cost up to $10,000), Newton's apple, the African 'vegetable elephant' or boabab, whose swollen trunks store thousands of litres of water - and the mystical, night-flowering Amazonian cactus, the moonflower. From Ice Age artists, to the Romantic poets, via colonialism and the nineteenth century botanical mania of empire, Mabey concludes his magnum opus with the latest revelations of possible 'plant intelligence' in this extraordinary collection of encounters between plants and people.
- RRP £20.00
This title offers a guide to the world of arthropods, covering many insect orders, including beetles, flies, stick insects, dragonflies, ants and wasps, as well as microscopic creatures. It provides a fascinating overview of insects and spiders, including their habitats and classification, all shown in over 195 beautiful photographs and illustrations. All aspects of insect life are covered, such as the way insects defend themselves and how they are able to jump, leap and fly. It describes cryptic coloration, and the way insects can use camouflage to blend into their background and escape attack from predators. It offers various methods of feeding are discussed, from biting and chewing to lapping, sucking, piercing and filter feeding, according to their different mouthparts. It outlines their useful role in pollination of crops, production of honey, and removing insect pests. In the arthropoda phylum, insects are one of the most successful species, and spiders are one of the largest groups. This book studies how they organize their lives. The first section provides information of every aspect of insect life: evolution, anatomy, life cycles, flight and social organization. The last section describes the 30 orders within the class Insecta, demonstrating the huge variety of insects, from microscopic creatures to giant stick insects and large beetles. Typical features of insects in each order are highlighted. With expert text, illustrations and clear photographs, this guide will be enjoyed by all who take an interest in natural history.
- RRP £7.99
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Charting the unique relationship between humans and animals and how certain species have been instrumental in the development of our understanding of the evolution of the natural world, this title explores the role animals have played in our culture and history. Often taken for granted, the produce and work of animals have not only met man's basic need for food and clothing, the study of animals has allowed us to develop scientifically and culturally. "Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History" is a fascinating exploration of the important role animals have played in our changing world, from the honeybee to the scarab beetle.
- RRP £14.99
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Ever wondered how to predict the weather just by looking at the sky? Or wanted to attract butterflies to your garden? Is there a knack to building the perfect bonfire? And how exactly do you race a ferret? In this world of traffic tailbacks, supermarket shopping and 24-hour internet access, it's easy to feel disconnected from the beauty and rhythms of the natural world. If you have ever gazed in awe at stars in the night's sky, tried to catch a perfect snowflake or longed for the comfort of a roaring log fire, then this is the book for you. From spotting Britain's five kinds of owl to gardening by the phases of the moon, and from curing a cold to brewing your own ale, "Red Sky at Night" is packed with instructions and lists, ancient customs and old wives tales, making it an indispensable guide to countryside lore.
- RRP £12.99
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'I travelled to Haverfordwest to get to the past. From Paddington Station a Great Western locomotive took me on a journey westwards from London further and further back into geological time, from the age of mammals to the age of trilobites...Under the River Severn and into Wales, I was back before the time of the dinosaurs, to a time when Wales steamed and sweated with the humid heat of moss-laden and boggy forests in coal-swamps, where dragonflies the size of hawks flitted in the mist; and then on back still further in time, so far back that life had not yet slithered or crawled upon the land from its aqueous nursery.' So begins this enthralling exploration of time and place in which Richard Fortey peels away the top layer of the land to reveal the hidden landscape - the rocks which contain the story of distant events, which dictate not only the personality of the landscape, but the nature of the soil, the plants that grow in it and the regional characteristics of the buildings. We travel with him as our guide throughout the British Isles and as the rocks change so we learn to read the clues they contain: that Britain was once divided into two parts separated by an ocean, that Scottish malt whisky, Harris tweed, slate roofs and thatched cottages can be traced back to tumultuous events which took place many millions of years ago. "The Hidden Landscape" has become a classic in popular geology since its first publication in 1993. This new edition is, fully updated and beautifully illustrated.
- RRP £21.99
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Patrick Whitefield presents twenty years worth of notes on different types of landscapes. It explains everything from animal signs and tree shapes to how whole landscapes fit together and function. It includes extracts and photographs from his notebooks illustrating actual examples of the landscapes described. Patrick Whitefield has spent a lifetime living and working in the countryside and twenty years of that taking notes of what he sees, everywhere from the Isle of Wight to the Scottish Highlands. This book is the fruit of those years of experience. In How to Read the Landscape Patrick explains everything from the details, such as the signs which wild animals leave as their signatures and the meaning behind the shapes of different trees, to how whole landscapes, including woodland, grassland and moorland, fit together and function as a whole. Rivers and lakes, roads and paths, hedgerows and field walls are also explained, as are the influence of different rocks, the soil and the ever-changing climate.
- RRP £16.95
This charming and practical handbook is bursting with tips, facts and folklore to guide you through a year by the sea. Find out how to identify shells by shape and markings, choose the best coastal routes to explore and learn about the geography of the beautiful beaches and craggy cliffs that Great Britain has to offer. With handy diary pages for making your own notes each month, this is a must-have for any eager seaside explorer.
- RRP £9.99
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Playful, social, and passionate, crows have brains that are huge for their body size, which allows them to think, plan, and reconsider their actions. They also exhibit an avian kind of eloquence, mate for life, and associate with relatives and neighbours for years. And to people who care for them and feed them, they often give oddly touching gifts in return. The ongoing connection between humans and crows-a cultural coevolution-has shaped both species for millions of years. Scientist John Marzluff teams up with artist-naturalist Tony Angell to tell amazing stories of these brilliant birds. With Marzluff's extraordinary original research on the intelligence and startling abilities of corvids-crows, ravens, and jays-Angell's gorgeous line drawings, and a lively joint narrative, the authors offer an in-depth look at these complex creatures and the traits and behaviours we share, including language, delinquency, frolic, passion, wrath, risk taking, and awareness. Crows gather around their dead, warn of impending doom, recognize people, commit murder of other crows, lure animals to their death, swill coffee and drink beer, design and use tools-including cars as nutcrackers-and windsurf and sled to play. With its abundance of funny, awe-inspiring, and poignant stories, Gifts of the Crow portrays creatures who are nothing short of amazing.
- RRP £12.99
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Not so long ago, our roads, buildings, gravestones and monuments were built from local rock, our cities were powered by coal from Welsh mines, and our lamps were lit with paraffin from Scottish shale. We live among the remnants of those times but for the most part our mines are gone, our buildings are no longer local, and the flow of stone travels east to west. Spurred on by the erasure of history and industry, Ted Nield journeyed across this buried landscape: from the small Welsh village where his mining ancestors were born and died, to Swansea, Aberdeen, East Lothian, Surrey and Dorset. Nield unearths the veins of coal, stone, oil, rock and clay that make up the country beneath our feet, exploring what the loss of kinship between past and present means for Britain and the rest of the world today.
- RRP £9.99
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In his first book since the acclaimed The Running Sky Tim Dee tells the story of four green fields. Four fields spread around the world: their grasses, their hedges, their birds, their skies, and their natural and human histories. Four real fields - walkable, mappable, man-made, mowable and knowable, but also secretive, mysterious, wild, contested and changing. Four fields - the oldest and simplest and truest measure of what a man needs in life - looked at, thought about, worked in, lived with, written. Dee's four fields, which he has known for more than twenty years, are the fen field at the bottom of his Cambridgeshire garden, a field in southern Zambia, a prairie field in Little Bighorn, Montana, USA, and a grass meadow in the exclusion zone at Chernobyl, Ukraine. Meditating on these four fields, Dee makes us look anew at where we live and how. He argues that we must attend to what we have made of the wild, to look at and think about the way we have messed things up but also to notice how we have kept going alongside nature, to listen to the conversation we have had with grass and fields. Four Fields is a profound, lyrical book by one of Britain's very best writers about nature. It is shortlisted for the 2014 Ondaatje Prize.
- RRP £9.99
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Encompassing nature, science, art, architecture, and spirituality, and illustrated with over 700 photographs and line drawings, "The Hidden Geometry of Life" illuminates the secret underpinnings of existence. In her trademark easy-to-understand style, mathematician Karen French shows how sacred geometry permeates every level of being, manifesting itself in simple shapes and numbers, music and sounds, light and colour, even in the mysteries of creation itself. But these geometrical archetypes are more than the building blocks of reality: they are gateways to profound new levels of awareness.
- RRP £16.99
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Though largely benign, volcanoes erupt continuously across the world. The eruption of Mount St Helens in 1980 and Eyjafjallajokull in 2010 exemplify the dramatic physical violence of volcanoes, and their potential for local destruction and global disruption. In Volcano James Hamilton explores the cultural history generated by the power, beauty and threat of the volcano. Hamilton describes the reverberations of early eruptions of Vesuvius and Etna in Greek and Roman myth, as well as depictions of volcanoes, from the earliest-known wall painting of an erupting volcano in 6200 BC, to the distinctive colours of Andy Warhol, to Michael Sandle's exploding mountains of the 1980s. He also discusses twenty-first century works that demonstrate the volcano's enduring influence on the artistic imagination today. Volcano is a richly illustrated account that combines established figures such as Joseph Wright and J.M.W. Turner with previously unseen perspectives. Making fresh links and discoveries, this book will appeal to the general reader, as having much to say to scholars and specialists in the field.
- RRP £14.95
With their fountains of glistening spray, overwhelming roar and terrifying might, waterfalls are extraordinary features of the natural world. While many flock to sites such as Niagara Falls and Victoria Falls, until now the rich cultural background of these natural wonders has been neglected. The beautiful, the sublime and the picturesque are among the ideas considered in relation to waterfalls, but in Waterfall Brian Hudson portrays these natural wonders in an entirely new light. There are many myths and legends of waterfalls from divers cultures including Native American, Celtic and Indian, as well as the portrayal of waterfalls in art, literature, photography, film and music, and their influence on landscape design and architecture is significant. The book explores the history and ecology of waterfalls, their importance as the source of hydroelectric power, and as tourist attractions. He discusses the frequent conflict generated by these latter two, usually incompatible uses, and the environmental impacts of the human exploitation of waterfalls. Regardless of their role, waterfalls are a vital presence in an increasingly urban world. This beautifully illustrated book by an expert on the subject will be a superb addition to the library of anyone who loves the natural world.
- RRP £14.95
New Englands landscape offers a remarkable array of natural diversity in a compact geographic area. From the alpine mountains and expansive lakes to hidden old-growth forests, gorges, and bogs, revel in the beauty of it all through nearly 200 color photographs. More than 100 of the regions natural areas are featured. Visit popular destinations such as Cape Cod, Franconia Notch, Cadillac Mountain, and Quechee Gorge, as well as less-known destinations off of the beaten path. Discover why waterfalls are short-lived and mobile, and how rare trees and flowers arrived in New England. Each clearly written site description details why the area is unique, how it was formed, and offers historical anecdotes and access information including recommended trails and auto roads. This book is a must-have for nature and photography enthusiasts, history buffs, hikers, and anyone who loves the great outdoors.
- RRP £33.99
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Beijing and Jakarta, Tehran and Tokyo, Istanbul and Los Angeles are among the more than 60 large cities at risk from an earthquake. And although Europe's cities are comparatively less vulnerable, over the last 300 years devastating shocks have hit Athens, Bucharest, Lisbon, Madrid, Rome and elsewhere. This book describes major earthquakes and their effects on societies around the world, as well as the ways in which cultures have mythologized earthquakes through religion, the arts and popular culture. Despite advances in science and engineering, and improved disaster preparedness, earthquakes continue to cause immense loss of life and damage. The 2010 Haiti earthquake took almost a quarter of a million lives, and no one will ever forget the catastrophic tsunami unleashed in 2011 by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the east coast of Japan - a crisis described by Japan's prime minister as the most disastrous national event since the atomic bomb strikes of 1945. Written by a highly experienced science writer, biographer and journalist, Earthquake will appeal as much to general readers of popular science and art as it will to experts in many fields.
- RRP £14.95
Fire has been an integral feature of our planet for over 400 million years. It has defined human culture from the beginning; it is something without which we cannot survive. While among the most destructive forces on Earth, fire displays equally tremendous powers of cleansing and renewal. Whether hunting, foraging, farming, herding, building towns or managing nature reserves, fire has been at the core of most human endeavours. With the means to make fire, as origin myths attest, humanity diverged from the rest of creation, and began reshaping the world for its own benefit. Aboriginal societies relied on the control of ignition alone; agricultural societies added control over fuel. Over the past 200 years, however, humanity has found a massive new world of combustibles in the form of fossil biomass and with new combustion practices has radically changed the world's ecological balance. Throughout history, we have mastered the science and art of fire, but there have been many culturally defining fire disasters going back to antiquity. In Fire Stephen J. Pyne offers a succinct survey of fire's long coevolution with humanity. It examines fire's influence on landscapes, art, science and, in recent times, climate. Fire is lavishly illustrated with images rarely reproduced or unseen in the context of fire. It will appeal to general readers curious to understand fire beyond what is seen in the media, and to fire specialists looking for a broadly cultural explanation behind their discipline.
Summer is a season of richness: gold against blue; sun dazzle on water; sweet fragrance, and the sound of insects, filling the air. We feel the sand between our toes, or the grass beneath our feet. In these long, warm days, languid and sensual, we reconnect with the natural world, revelling in light and scent and colour once more.; Capturing the high point of the year's progress, Summer presents prose and poetry spanning eight hundred years. Featuring new contributions by Simon Barnes, Michael McCarthy and Esther Woolfson, classic extracts from the work of Charles Dickens, Mary Webb and Philip Larkin, and diverse new nature writing from across the UK, this vibrant and evocative collection will inspire you to go out and enjoy the pleasures of summer.
- RRP £12.99
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The Isle of Arran dominates the Firth of Clyde. A favourite haunt of holidaymakers, it is also a place of fascination for the geologist, offering a huge variety of rocks that represent a massive slice through geological time. From the ancient bent and buckled strata of Dalradian - a small fragment of the roots of the once mighty Scottish Highlands - the dramatic Northern mountains through which ice gouged its way during the Ice Age, to the relatively recent (some 60 million years ago!) rocks associated with the Arran volcano, the geological record tells an amazing tale. This book is a fascinating introduction to the landscape of Arran - one of the significant geological areas of the country.
- RRP £7.99
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The Isle of Skye offers a magical combination of wild land and breath-taking natural beauty. Skye's geological history involves some of the most ancient rocks on the planet; a grandstand view as the Highlands of Scotland were formed over 400 million years ago and the development of one of the mightiest volcanoes ever to blow its top. Skye is also known as Scotland's 'dinosaur island', yielding the remains of many species of plant and meat-eating creatures that stalked land some 140 million years ago. Finally, the rocks forged in earlier times were shaped into the familiar hills and glens of today by the passage of ice as a great freeze gripped the land. This book provides key information about the formation of the island and the on-going processes of natural landscape evolution that continue to leave their mark on these spectacular vistas.
- RRP £7.99
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Peter Slater needs no introduction to Australian natural history enthusiasts. He has been publishing books celebrating the country's wildlife for many decades, not least the renowned Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds. For Visions of Wildness Peter has again teamed up with Sally Elmer to produce a remarkable collection of photographs and artworks covering all aspects of Australian nature, from birds, mammals and reptiles to minibeasts, plants and fungi. And not forgetting the amazing landscapes!Although today it is difficult to find any true 'wilderness' which has not been affected by the activities of humans, the authors show that there is much in the Australian natural world that remains uninfluenced and there are myriads of living things that remain 'wild'.
- RRP £16.99
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