Book review: Shorebirds in Action by Richard Chandler

For those with a general interest in birds Shorebirds in Action is a ‘must read.’ For readers with a particular interest in shore birds you will be guaranteed to learn a great deal. Even on what may be considered simpler wildlife matters I thought until I read this book that the flocks of oystercatchers regularly seen at times when they should be nesting had all lost their eggs or chicks due to predation or to farming operations. I know now that oystercatchers do not breed until they are at least four years old.

The book explains in depth the different plumage shore birds take on at different seasons and when breeding, their moult strategy, feeding habits, territorial behaviour, bird behaviour, predator avoidance and much more. What I particularly like are the countless and captivating photographs taken specially to illustrate the particular point being made by the author. Much of the text is an explanation linked to a single photograph or a series, which makes it far more easily understood by the layman.

The book includes fascinating case studies about shore bird migration, using data gained from GPS tags, platform transmitter terminals and light-level geolocators. This includes the migration of the bar-tailed godwit on its marathon 12,000 km flight from Alaska to New Zealand.

The full title of the book is Shorebirds in Action: an introduction to waders and their behaviour. The author clearly knows these birds inside out, not just in Europe but across the globe. It is doubtful that much more information could have been included.


Shorebirds in Action: an introduction to waders and their behaviour by Richard Chandler.

Whittles Publishing, Dunbeath, Caithness, KW6 6EG.  £21.95

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