FROM FIELD AND FEN

Crow Meadow Press

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Reviews Books -

Mike Toms has long been the Bri­tish Trust for Or­nithol­ogy’s go-to man for facts and fig­ures, as well as a con­trib­u­tor to this mag­a­zine and the writer of a coun­try­side di­ary in a news­pa­per. In this new sea­son-by-sea­son com­pi­la­tion, he goes search­ing for the spe­cific wildlife trea­sures – golden ori­oles in sum­mer, golden pheas­ants in mid­win­ter – of his home in Breck­land in Nor­folk. But most re­ward­ing of all, Toms says, is sim­ply to be im­mersed in the sur­round­ing land­scape: “We ben­e­fit from the still­ness of the nat­u­ral world and the op­por­tu­nity to set­tle within its em­brace.” It’s a de­tailed, del­i­cate and per­sonal per­spec­tive on one man’s ‘patch’. A bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the range of pol­li­na­tors. Hon­ey­bees get a lot of head­lines, but many other in­sects do their bit, in­clud­ing bum­ble­bees, flies, bee-flies, hov­er­flies and bee­tles. Birds such as hum­ming­birds, lizards, bats and non-fly­ing mam­mals also pol­li­nate.

Do read­ers need to know botany to en­joy the book?

No – there are ex­tended cap­tions. When shoot­ing I tried to get in close to re­veal the re­pro­duc­tive parts of each flower, and to show how pollen is trans­ferred.

Do you use any spe­cial tech­niques?

For many of the plant pho­tos I used fo­cus stack­ing, in

Pol­li­na­tors are de­clin­ing glob­ally. How can we help?

Gar­dens are in­creas­ingly im­por­tant reser­voirs, so plant species that pro­vide nec­tar and/or pollen through­out the year – ask your lo­cal gar­den cen­tre, or or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Buglife, the RSPB and the Royal Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety. How­ever, ‘dou­ble flow­ers’ – va­ri­eties bred for ex­tra petals – are lit­tle use. They have ei­ther lost their re­pro­duc­tive parts or the petals are so tightly packed that in­sects can­not ac­cess them.

by Heather An­gel is a beau­ti­ful and in­for­ma­tive in­sight into the hid­den se­crets of plant pol­li­na­tion (Kew Pub­lish­ing, £25.00): http://shop.kew.org

BBC Wildlife

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