A Year in a Ditch is a very attractive book, with lots of interesting photographs and helpful text boxes describing in more depth some of the subjects being discussed. In a chapter Fascinating Flora and Fauna lots of noteworthy species are examined, though the detail on some of them is brief, being only a couple of paragraphs. It was at this point in the book that I started to query the title, since the author began to look at species that could only be loosely linked to a ditch. This was especially so in relation to birds. Confining the subject only to a ditch rather limits the scope of what can be included in a book.
I was pleased to see part of this chapter covering invasive species, since many non-native plants and animals are now causing havoc in waterways. Rather alarming was a text box in a chapter Dining Out in a Ditch suggesting that foragers ‘purge their freshwater mussels’ for a few days in fresh water before eating them. Of course it is illegal to take freshwater pearl mussels and this may have been better to be clarified.
I enjoyed the principal chapter A Year in the Life of a Ditch, which suggested species to look out for during every month of the year. This took on a much broader scope than simply a ditch and took me back to what I though was a rather restrictive title.
Nevertheless there is something in the book for everyone interested in the countryside, much of it, where appropriate, related with humour.
A Year in a Ditch by J C Jeremy Hobson, Whittles Publishing, Dunbeath, Caithness, KW6 6EG. www.whittlespublishing.com £16.99