Simon King’s Nature Watch is an excellent resource on how to track and observe wildlife. It is clearly set out, with beautiful photography (as you would expect from Simon King) and illustrations, and is a highly accessible book for both beginner and exper-ienced tracker alike. The remit of the book is to give tracking signs and watching tips for animals found in the British Isles and Europe – although much of the useful advice and information in the two initial chapters on Equipment and ‘Field Senses’ (learning how to move and set up your surroundings with minimal disruption to the animals you wish to watch) is universally applicable. Over 200 pages are dedicated to the details any would-be tracker needs to know about the animal they wish to observe, split under the five sub-headings of Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Invertebrates.
Each species is described in terms of its size and appearance in lovely water-colour illustrations, alongside images (mostly to scale) of a typical footprint, photos and descript-tions of faeces, typical food remains (for example, in photographs of two hazelnut shells, King notes that the difference between the eating habits of woodmice and bank voles is that voles leave tooth-marks on the outer edge of the nut), habitat and home, and a ‘How to Watch’ section. To be treasured by a family as a key to outdoor adventures, and a confidence and knowledge booster for any outdoor educator wanting to enthuse their pupils and share the wonder of the lives of wild animals living on our doorstep, this book really is, as King asserts in the introduction, a ‘distillation’ of his knowledge born of years of fascination and observation; an invaluable and inspiring guide in how to study and engage with the wildlife surrounding us.
Nature Watch. Simon King (2016). Quadrille Publishing. Hardback, pp256. ISBN 978-1-84949-476-2. £20.