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.
This spotter's guide will tell you everything you need to know about Britain's landscapes - from the bumps and lumps you see in fields to when and why certain trees were planted.
- RRP £16.99
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Praised by Tony Robinson and BBC's Countryfile magazine, this is a highly entertaining and eye-opening book about the things you need to know in order to 'read' the landscape and spot the human activities that have shaped it. The question-and-answer format makes it all the more accessible.
It uses photographs and diagrams to point out specific details that will give you an idea of the processes that shaped various landscapes e.g. Roman road building and medieval ploughing. There are also details of where to find the best examples of these landscapes in Britain.
From the Ice Age to the 21st century, Coast presenter (and president of the Royal Geographical Society) Nicholas Crane looks back over 12,000 years of the British landscape in this beautiful book.
- RRP £20.00
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Part-journey, part-history, this book describes the evolution of Britain's countryside and cities and concludes with an examination of where things will head next. It even includes a number of photographs for you to pore over.
We are now in one of the most extreme centuries of change since the Iron Age and this book examines how we got to this point. From major landscape events including the Black Death, urbanisation and recreation to the role played by geology (and our 6,000-mile coastline) in its development, it's a must for anyone interested in nature.
Archie Miles provides a celebration of the oak tree in Britain and explores its history, culture, topography and biology in this endlessly interesting book.
- RRP £30.00
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A comprehensive overview of everything that the famous oak tree signifies to Britain and its people, it looks at its importance in industry, architecture and ship building, as well as evaluating its role in myth, art and literature.
Perfect for anyone who loves nature, the book includes fascinating profiles of Britain's 50 most famous oak trees, an examination of the disease, management and conservation issues facing them and a whole host of stunning photographs.
Head into the unknown and discover some beautiful, mysterious and mythical landscapes in The Un-Discovered Islands, a hardback packed with beautiful illustrations.
- RRP £14.99
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An exploration of some of the world's strangest places, this book gathers together two dozen islands that were once believed to be real but no longer exist on the map. These islands are products of imagination, deception and simple human error.
From Atlantis to more obscure tales from all over the world, this is an atlas of legend and wonder that looks at ex-isles and forgotten lands from ancient history right up until the present day. Written by Guardian writer and 60 Degrees North author Malachy Tallack, this book features glorious full-colour artwork from Katie Scott.
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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When Amy Liptrot returns to Orkney after more than a decade away, she is drawn back to the Outrun on the sheep farm where she grew up. Approaching the land that was once home, memories of her childhood merge with the recent events that have set her on this journey. Amy was shaped by the cycle of the seasons, birth and death on the farm, and her father's mental illness, which were as much a part of her childhood as the wild, carefree existence on Orkney. But as she grew up, she longed to leave this remote life. She moved to London and found herself in a hedonistic cycle. Unable to control her drinking, alcohol gradually took over. Now thirty, she finds herself washed up back home on Orkney, standing unstable at the cliff edge, trying to come to terms with what happened to her in London. Spending early mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, the days tracking Orkney's wildlife - puffins nesting on sea stacks, arctic terns swooping close enough to feel their wings - and nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy slowly makes the journey towards recovery from addiction. The Outrun is a beautiful, inspiring book about living on the edge, about the pull between island and city, and about the ability of the sea, the land, the wind and the moon to restore life and renew hope.
- RRP £14.99
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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
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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"Human Planet" is the first natural history documentary series to turn the camera on ourselves, the human species. Taking the same approach as Planet Earth, it will explain how human beings have learnt to live on every habitat, from our origins in the Jungle to our domination of Grasslands to the Desert, Ocean, Rivers, the creation of our own environment, Urban, and the challenges of the Arctic mountains. But this is also a story about how we have learnt to adapt to the most inhospitable landscapes and work in partnership with other animal species. From the Bajau sea gypsies to the Korowai tribe of West Papau who live in treehouses, the honey birds in Kenya that lead the Masai people to honey, the men who fish with dolphins in Brazil and the Papuan tribesmen who mimic the courtship dances of the birds of paradise, this is the remarkable story of our relationship with nature.
- RRP £30.00
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Malaysia is a megadiverse country with an incredible number of land species it is estimated to contain 20 per cent of the world's animal species and whose coastal waters form part of the equally rich Coral Triangle. Written by a team of local experts, Wild Malaysia looks at the most important habitats within the three divisions of the country: Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah. The habitats cover a fascinating range including pristine rainforests, limestone complexes, wetlands, coastal regions, caves and highlands. A unique feature in each chapter is the 'Guided Tour' which takes readers to specific habitats to explore the trees, birds, plants and animals to be found there. Illustrated with Stephen Hogg's vibrant photographs, Wild Malaysia provides an authoritative and entertaining survey of the wide spectrum of wildlife on the land and in the seas of this diverse country.
- RRP £29.99
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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
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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In a stressful, chaotic world, many of us are turning to nature for a sense of serenity and happiness. While the idea of the wild outdoors is enticing, though, our busy lives and our location can cause us to become detached from nature. Down to the River and Up to the Trees will show you how to connect with the natural world around you, whether you live in the city or the countryside. From getting to know the local wildlife, to foraging and creating naturally-sourced masterpieces, Down to the River is brimming with practical information, intriguing quotes and inspirational ideas. Discover how to carve your own spoon; to be able to tell if the moon is waxing or waning; or try forest bathing (surrounding yourself with trees). Learn how to make yourself at home amongst the animals and plants on your doorstep, in harmony with your surroundings. There is space too for you to record your thoughts and findings, whatever shape they take.
- RRP £9.99
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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