....for South Wales Dragonfly Enthusiasts
Most naturalists have an insatiable thirst for knowledge about their favourite subjects and many become keen collectors of fieldguides and handbooks on their chosen subjects, those that develop an interest in the dragonflies might need to be pointed in the right direction when considering purchase of a fieldguide or general title.
The following selection of fieldguides and books, are I believe, the very best available to either the beginner or the more advanced dragonfly enthusiast. I present a personal appraisal of each book based on my own use both in the field for identification and for general information and study...and please check out the superb new additions!
In recent years several DVD's have appeared on the market and now we even have an excellent App available for use on mobile devices, I give a summary of those I've seen or use and advise accordingly on whether I think you should add them to your knowledge base.
Books...furthering your knowledge
Britain's Dragonflies NEW!
Authors: Dave Smallshire and Andy Swash
Publisher: WILDGuides LTD
Third Edition: Fully revised and updated 2014.
This completely revised third edition of Britain's Dragonflies seems to have done the improbable...bettered the original!!!
A fieldguide to the dragonflies and damselflies of Britain and Ireland it states on the cover, but it's much more than just a fieldguide, this wonderful book is packed from cover to cover with masses of information on our 56 Odonata species and also seven potential vagrants. The 450 photographs and 550 illustrations supporting the text are top notch, it's 224 pages are detailed, comprehensive and easily digested.
Each colour plate is supported by the species information account on the opposing page, consisting of: Adult ID, Egg and Larvae, Behaviour, Breeding Habitat, Population and Conservation.
The latest distribution maps for each species are highly informative, while the observation tips and help with confusing look-alike species are also welcome.
The user-friendly format makes this a book for all level of enthusiast, both newcomers to the world of dragonflies and the serious Odontologist will be more than satisfied to use this book in the field (it even has a protective plastic cover!!!) or the classroom. The authors and WILDGuides deserve every plaudit for their efforts to produce a fieldguide that helps make dragonfly identification and study a real pleasure (and that's the way it should be!). There are so many nice things I like about this book, its obvious that the authors have 'been there and done it' and want to share their experience and knowledge in a top quality handbook, they succeed wonderfully...just go buy it!!!
Simply one of the very best fieldguides available RRP £18.95 - check Amazon
Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain and Ireland.
Authors: Steve Brooks & Steve Cham Illustrator: Richard Lewington
British Wildlife Publishing Revised New Edition 2014
This fieldguide changed the way we looked at dragonflies, I'm sure that no other book has done more to encourage a whole new generation of enthusiasts since it was first published in 1997 and we now have a superb new edition fully revised and updated. British Wildlife Publishing commissioned three brilliant author/artists to create this superb book.
Steve Brooks works in the Department of Entomology at the Natural History Museum, London while his co-author Steve Cham is involved with the Dragonfly Recording Network, both are active BDS members.
The top quality illustrations are by Richard Lewington one of Europe's top natural history illustrators, his work towards this milestone book include more than 280 detailed artworks and his superb work is complimented by more than 70 lavish full colour images.
The 192 pages in this softcover book offers the reader the following subject areas:-
Life History, current status and distribution (with updated maps), habitats, dragonflies and the law, larvae keys, keys to adult stages, species flight seasons etc. There appears to be very little general information on our native dragonflies and damselflies that have not been included in this newly updated fieldguide. Its also most interesting to note that contributing 'experts' have written individual summaries about species their most familiar with, this adds another fresh perspective under the editorial co-ordination of Steve Brooks...a fine idea.
This superb new edition should sit proudly on any dragonfly enthusiasts bookshelf and I can recommend it without hesitation, it packs a mass of new information within it's 192 pages...quite simply a must have!!!
Superb one of the finest fieldguides available RRP £18.95 - Check Amazon
Dragonflies (New Naturalist Series)
Authors: Philip Corbet and Stephen Brooks
Publisher: Collins 2008
This is the long awaited addition to the New Naturalist series, it comes along nearly 50 years after the original in the series, the title of the same name, Dragonflies published in 1960 (See the review below), the long wait certainly does not disappoint.
Written by two of the most knowledgable and respected of Britain and Ireland's Odonatologists, the information on our native dragonflies and damselflies is well and truly brought up to date in this superbly illustrated book.
No short review such as this can possibly do justice to this finely written book, within it's 454 pages you will find most everything you could wish to know about these fascinating insects, and it really is a bonus to see so many wonderful photographs present, taken by Robert Thompson, one of the very best of our insect photographers.
For those unfamiliar with Collins New Naturalist series I can only suggest you go online and find out more. This addition to the series will I'm sure become a classic, much like the earlier book did all those years ago.
Very sadly Philip Corbet - who could only be described as the doyen of the Odonatologists world - died just around the time this book was published. I simply cannot imagine a more fitting or indeed lasting tribute to Philip than this book. Both this and the earlier Dragonfly title in the series which Philip also co-authored now span more than half a century and both books have done marvels to foster interest in all things odonate in the British Isles and Ireland.
Seriously good the hardcover edition is £21 (Amazon) Softcover is £15.
Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe
Author: Klass-Douwe B Dijkstra
Illustrator: Richard Lewington
British Wildlife Publishing First Edition 2006
This fieldguide to all the dragonflies and damselflies of Britain and Europe brings together some of the regions top experts to present a thoroughly comprehensive overview that aids either study or identification for a whole 'new generation' of dragonfly watchers.
This highly impressive work contains more than 1000 colour artworks, line drawings and photographs of all 160 species of dragonfly and damselfly to be found in the region. If we add to this the sublime illustrations of Richard Lewington one of the regions premier insect artists, we have in our hands a cracking fieldguide.
The region covered is huge, all of Europe, from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean Basin, it includes western Turkey, Cyprus, Morrocco, Algeria, Tunisia, the Azores, Canaries and Madeira...it quite simply has to be the regions perfect holiday fieldguide!!! Whenever I browse through this great guide book I get an overwhelming sense of wanting to go dragonfly watching in new climes, it just has that kind of effect on me...perhaps one day!
Among it's many features it includes identification keys and tables for adults of each species, also field characteristics, species variation, behavior, range and status, habitat and flight season and up-to-date distribution maps for each species.
320 pages with full colour plates that abound in information, this is..."The essential companion for the new generation of dragonfly watcher"
Excellent European Fieldguide Hardcover £27 (Amazon) Softcover is £18
Dragonflies New Naturalist Series (Original Edition)
Authors: P.S Corbet C. Longfield, N.W. Moore
Publishers: Collins 1960
The most famous series of natural history books in British publishing history. This classic title is No 41 in the still on-going series that has a reputation of being strictly for book collectors, much to the chagrin of genuine field naturalists who like to have them to use, first editions are simply too expensive, this title was only printed as a first edition, I've seen them in very good condition for up to £400!!! There were 5000 printed so they really are not that rare.
The good news is that you can either search out the softback version or go to the New Naturalist website and buy a 'print on demand' hardcover, you will find either is considerably cheaper than a genuine first edition. Much of the included information is now outdated, and the book strictly uses only the latin names of the species, which can be vexing to the general reader. However, this remains a true classic and should still sit proudly on the dragonfly lovers bookshelf.
The book covers 260 pages on biology, ecology and ethology (the science of animal behaviour). This book will appeal greatly to anyone interested in the historical background of our dragonflies, the status and distribution maps are really fascinating and comparing them with the updated maps as provided in the more recent New Naturalist Dragonflies is most interesting (see 2008 title above).
Truly a natural history 'classic', the collector's price tag usually puts it out of reach.
The 'print on demand' version can be purchased from Collins for £60.
Field Guide to the larvae and exuviae of British Dragonflies
Author: Steve Cham Publisher: British Dragonfly Society 2012
This new fieldguide is in A5 format soft cover, the 152 pages contain many colour close-up photographs with the key distinguishing features of each dragonfly or damselfly in precise detail. This book allows the user to compare larvae or exuviae against the books life size illustrations, you can also cross reference against the many photographs that have been painstakingly put together.
The species each have a complete account that outlines in an easy to understand manner the following; size of final instar (life size), head characteristics, detailed abdomen shape, possible confusion species, larval habits.
Chapters include:- Anatomy, Where to find Larvae and Exuviae,
Recording your findings, Emergence periods. I think the quick guide to size and shape in real life size illustrations is a nice touch, it gets you going and will prove most helpful to the novice.
Steve Cham has obviously put a lot of work into this book and never stints on detail, a highly recommended pocketable fieldguide.
This book can be purchased from the British Dragonfly Society shop for £10 plus £2 PP
Others to consider...
Move your cursor over any book to get the title and the approximate cost, some are available new, some only used.
DVD's and App's
Over the past couple of years the ways in which we use and receive information has changed dramatically, and if someone had told me just a couple years ago that I would be able carry several types of fieldguides around on a palm sized device that could fit in a shirt or jacket pocket with ease, well, I think you all know what I might have said to them, yet I now use an iPod, and more and more natural history enthusiasts are doing likewise. Having said that, I'm always going to love books, I'm quite prepared to have the best of both worlds!!!
There are three DVD's worthy of consideration to the dragonfly watcher, two of them are produced by the same person and I honestly think it would be better if I provided a link to the DVD makers website where you can not only get the necessary information about them, but also purchase either or both of the DVD's direct should you wish.
The DVD maker is Graham Sherwin a real dragonfly enthusiast, please visit Graham Sherwin Wildlife.
Graham has priced his DVD's quite sensibly and at the time of writing was offering free post and package to anyone that orders both DVD's together, their also available on the British Dragonfly Society website at £20 inclusive of P&P (or the two can be had for £37) and do accept that as a real endorsement of the quality.
The DVD illustrated to the left - Dragonflies and Damselflies (Most of the species found in the UK) - is available from the British Dragonfly Society at quite a reasonable £13.50 which also includes post and package, I'm afraid little information is currently available on this DVD, but I'm sure the BDS would never sell a product from it's shop without it being good quality.
Britain's Dragonflies App
This excellent App is taken from the book of the same title (see review above) and can be ordered via BirdGuides estore for £10.49.
I'm unaware of any other App on Britain's dragonflies being currently available, only hope this App is updated soon to include all the latest revised information!
www.dragonfly-days.co.uk © Bill Jones 2008-16
Atlas of Dragonflies in Britain and Ireland NEW!
Published for: Biological Records Centre
Edited by: Steve Cham, Brian Nelson, Adrian Parr, Steve Prentice, Dave Smallshire and Pam Taylor.
This remarkable new Atlas is the result of countless thousands of records received by the British Dragonfly Society and provides the reader with a fascinating account of how our native Odonata are faring up to the year that ended the Atlas project period in 2012.
Every one of the 57 recorded British and Irish species along with all the relative migrants and vagrants from this northern European region have their recent status and distribution clearly documented with a plethora of information provided to the enthusiast or professional in a very reader friendly fashion.
Among the contents of this quality produced full colour A4 book are the following: The dragonfly fauna of Britain & Ireland, environmental factors influencing distribution, habitats, recording and data collection, mapping the data and species, trends in status since 1980, phenology and the all important comprehensive species accounts.
The sheer effort that goes into creating a volume of work such as this wonderful Atlas is immense, the co-authors deserved our gratitude as does the British Dragonfly Society for commissioning this entire project, incidentally the BDS have actually named each and every dragonfly recorder who submitted records to this Atlas...what a lovely touch!!!
The Atlas has 277 pages with more than 250 top quality full colour photographs and over 140 maps and graphics. The detail provided within this volume will whet the appetite of even the most seasoned dragonfly enthusiast, I cannot possibly recommend it enough...what a book!!!
Fantastic new addition to the dragonfly enthusiasts library £35 from the BDS