Friday, March 1, 2013

Book Review: British Bat Calls A Guide to Species Identification

A brief Book Review - 'British Bat Calls: A Guide to Species Identification' By Jon Russ

Once again, I'll state that: One does not need to be a resident of Britain, in order to appreciate and use this book. Which is the reason why I ordered a copy for myself.
Although I live in the US, after some shopping around online, I decided to order my copy from NHBS. Unlike some online-shops in the US, they had new copies in stock, ready for shipping. And the price was reasonable (£29.99 | $46/€35 approx.)

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

I very quickly read through the first few pages. Followed by the Acknowledgments. And was utterly relieved to find that there were no references to any of the egocentric, stingy, American companies. Ahhh! What a relief! The same was true for the Preface section! And, I did read through it more slowly and carefully. Yay! I was so happy to learn that I could now proceed, free & clear.

I'll state right up front, that I found this book wonderful and refreshing. And, it has required quite a bit of effort on my part, to keep this review brief! This review could have easily ended up being four pages in length. I try to keep all of my book reviews brief.

Next up, was Chapter 1 - Introduction.
Among other topics, this chapter provides a short explanation of the discovery and history of bat echolocation.

Chapter 2 - Bats and sound
Provided very useful, and easy to understand descriptions of the properties of sound. The Author did a wonderful job of clearly explaining the various facets of sound, along with the "how's and why's"of bat calls.

Chapter 3 - Equipment
This section covered the subject of bat detectors :) And succinctly explained just about everything you'd want to know about them. Several other topics were related, including the various methods of recording bat calls.

Chapter 4 - Call analysis
How to use and understand sound analysis software. Very informative coverage of this topic, discussed in several parts. This chapter alone, is worth the price of admission.

{I know that it may be an old adage, but I enjoy this book more with each chapter I read}

Chapters 5 and 6 - Species echolocation guide and Species identification
These particular chapters may not be very useful to me (since I live in the US), but the information they contain - On each species covered, is simply amazing. Chapter 6 alone, makes this book a must have for any bat enthusiast residing in the UK.

It's safe to say, that I own many books on the subject of Bats. And, I'm also planning to review a few of them here soon. I can state here and now, (with certainty) that this book surpasses the others on it's overall (up-to-date) content, and execution.
In conclusion, the book is very well laid-out. It's very informative, and a fantastic reference, to re-visit again and again! ...Now if only a bat expert from the US (of Jon Russ' caliber) would publish a book similar to it (for North American species)...And soon! I'd be very happy!

Happy bat detecting! 

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