Welcome to our annual round-up of the books and equipment we have enjoyed reading and using this year, all chosen by members of the NHBS team. Here are our staff picks for 2021!
Released earlier this year, the Song Meter Micro produces high-quality soundscape recordings at a significantly lower price point than standard acoustic recorders. The Micro opens the door to keen naturalists, like myself, to begin exploring the world of bioacoustics. This spring, we recorded our local dawn chorus (highly recommended!) and found it incredibly easy to set up using the free app on our own smartphone. Of particular use was the preset recording schedules, one of which uses your location and time zone to target recording around sunset and sunrise. The ease of use and beautifully clear recordings make the Micro a clear choice for my 2021 staff pick.
Gemma – Senior Wildlife Equipment Specialist
Officially abandoned places are often still very much inhabited by people on the fringes of society, as well as being reclaimed by nature. Islands of Abandonment is a highly enjoyable read about places, people and nature; part travelogue, part anthropology and part natural history, it reminded me strongly of The World Without Us. Cal Flyn writes engagingly, intelligently, and with compassion. I enjoyed reading this in hardback when it was first published, and the paperback is due to be released soon.
Anneli – Head of Finance and Operations
Being able to record the presence and often secret behaviour of the more elusive wildlife on my local patch with a trail camera is thoroughly rewarding. At the start of the year, Browning launched their latest trail camera, the impressively well-designed Recon Force Elite HP4. After seeing the stunning quality of video it captures in 1920 x 1080 FHD, it has become one of my firm favourites and I am excited to get it out into a wider range of habitats. Just ten years ago, having a trail camera that could record in this quality and also offer so many practical features and settings would have been prohibitively expensive, so I feel the Recon Force really does offer excellent value.
Ian – Wildlife Equipment Specialist
Beyond a few academic textbooks and technical monographs, the deep evolutionary history of mammals has remained largely hidden in the academic literature. Beasts Before Us unleashes their story most spectacularly and engagingly. This beautifully written debut marks Panciroli as a noteworthy new popular science author.
Leon – Catalogue Editor
I have a Defender Metal Seed Feeder in my garden and absolutely love it. The ports and perches are all made of metal meaning that the local squirrel isn’t able to chew and wreck the feeder! Everything is easy to disassemble and reassemble, making cleaning the entire feeder a breeze. Paying a little bit extra for a metal bird feeder was definitely well worth it for the quality and longevity.
Antonia – Wildlife Equipment Manager
A Trillion Trees is my choice for this year’s staff picks as it’s an optimistic take on the future of the world’s forests, championing the role of trees in the fight against climate change and in people’s daily lives. This book celebrates trees, exploring their importance, the history of our relationship with forests and the future role they may have in an emerging community-centred approach to the land.
Hana – Ecology Content Writer/Editor
Kite Optics have a great reputation for their entry- and mid-level optics. I’ve had my 8×32 Falcos for a few months now, and I’m absolutely loving them. The ED glass provides a bright, crystal-clear image even in lower light, while the smaller size keeps them portable. In most lights very little chromatic aberration is visible. I’ve had great fun seeing some of the winter migrants that are currently in residence around the UK’s coasts. A great choice for any birder looking for quality optics at a good price.
Josh – Wildlife Equipment Specialist
Handmade in our workshop here in Devon, the NHBS Moth trap is my 2021 staff pick. Constructed from lightweight plastic panels covered with white nylon and weighing in at 2kg, the trap is portable, easy to assemble, and convenient to store. The sturdy 4.5m mains power lead runs a single 20W Blacklight bulb and the white fabric sides help to reflect UV light ensuring good attraction rates. I’ve always been a fan of the standard skinner shape which allows you to easily lay egg boxes along the bottom, whilst the upper panels help to retain the catch. At an attractive price point, this trap is ideal for beginners or anyone looking for a convenient trap for their garden.
Johnny – Senior Wildlife Equipment Specialist
Although it’s a product we’ve sold for a long time, my staff pick is the Advanced Bug Hunting Kit. This year I fell back in love with bug hunting in my local area. While not being able to travel far but having the freedom to explore my surrounding countryside, bug hunting helped transport me to a whole other world, the vast and fascinating world of insects! This kit has all you need to get you started. While being suitable for use with children for family fun, it also includes the Collins Complete Guide to British Insects and Super Fine Pointed Forceps to accommodate a more delicate, detailed look into what you have captured.
Beth – Wildlife Equipment Specialist