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This impressively comprehensive study and review of the birds in Scotland by Valerie Thom, editor of Scottish Birds and past-President of the Scottish Ornithologists' Club, may be said to follow on where the celebrated two volumes of The Birds of Scotland (1953), by Dr Baxter and Miss Rintoul, left off. It does more than that, however, since not only has there been a profound increase in ornithological coverage and data (as reflected in the species accounts), there have also been great changes in habitat and environment since the days of Baxter & Rintoul. These aspects form the themes of the ten preliminary chapters reviewing the Scottish scene today in terms of habitat, conservation, birdwatching and the changes in species status and distribution.
The species accounts, the backbone of Birds in Scotland, review the period 1950-83 but include, where practicable, records of rarities and details of counts up to the spring of 1985; there are also brief summaries of earlier data based on the researches of Baxter & Rintoul. In all, 497 species are dealt with.
The texts of major species accounts are complemented by 173 distribution maps and many tables of relevant data, and there are 129 species drawings by a team of artists under the editorship of Donald Watson, who also contributes chapter head pieces and other drawings. A section of photographs illustrates the varied habitats typical of Scotland today. There are, further, appendices and an extensive bibliography.
Birds in Scotland is of great and obvious interest to all birdwatchers in Scotland but it will be of special value, too, to the many thousands of birdwatching visitors from elsewhere in these islands and from countries abroad.The Scottish Ornithologists' Club, for whom the book is published, and all whose records and researches made the author's work possible, have reason to be proud of Valerie Thom's achievement. The book's users will be indebted to them all for this comprehensive and essential guide to birds in Scotland.
"This book is the most important work on the birds of Scotland ever published. If it were a county avifauna, it would be a remarkable piece of work, but, covering an entire country as it does, it is quite outstanding."
– Iain Robertson, British Birds