Hertfordshire Natural History Society ~ Making the most of your nature records in Herfordshire
Hertfordshire Natural History Society  

Birds of Hertfordshire by Ken Smith, Chris Dee, Jack Fearnside and Mike Ilett

Our brilliant new book, Birds of Hertfordshire, describes all the species of birds ever recorded in the County, from our common garden birds though to the rarest. It is a full county avifauna and atlas including comprehensive information on where and when to see the birds and how their numbers and distribution have changed over the years.

Published for Herts Bird Club by Hertfordshire Natural History Society on 24th February 2015. Written by local experts with all the photographs taken in Hertfordshire, the book is large format (A4 size), hardback and in full colour throughout.

Read the excellent review in - British Birds July 2015

Price £39 by post or £34 if collected from HNHS in St Albans - you can now order and pay for the new book direct from Herts Bird Club through this website here.

Buy now for £39 (sent to you by post)) or £34 (you collect from HNHS in St Albans) using your debit or credit card through our secure PayPal account,
orders will be acknowledged by email

Delivery options

or send a cheque for £39 (payable to Hertfordshire Natural History Society) together with your name and address and telephone number to
Hertfordshire Natural History Society, c/o David Utting, 250 Sandridge Road, St Albans, AL1 4AL.
add your email address or a stamped addressed envelope so we can acknowledge your order.
(Postage and packing free for delivery to an address in the UK, ask for a price to send abroad.)

Buy your copy for only £34 and collect it from HNHS in St Albans.

Further information from: David Utting, HNHS Secretary at 250 Sandridge Road, St Albans, AL1 4AL, Tel 01727 762855, email; -


More about the book and a review by Andrew Moon

The six main chapters cover

  • the Hertfordshire landscape
  • the history of Hertfordshire ornithology
  • the results of the Herts Bird Club surveys over the last 40 years
  • detailed accounts for each of the 308 species recorded in the county
  • the changes in the county avifauna and their causes
  • the conservation of birds in Hertfordshire

Alongside the book on-line access will be provided to all the species distribution maps from the three atlas projects 1967-73, 1988-92 and 2007-12 and (where available) to the summer and winter abundance maps from the 2007-12 atlas.

Review by Andrew Moon

I can say quite honestly, and impartially, that Birds of Hertfordshire is the best county avifauna that I have seen - and believe me I am a serial collector of these books, although maybe not as prolific as I used to be! One of my first ever purchases 45 years ago was the Birds of the London Area, swiftly followed by Bryan Sage's Birds of Hertfordshire, both of which became treasured possessions and even these days are both well worth browsing through.

There is a wonderful balance of content from the initial analysis of the area - geography, geology and agriculture etc, followed by a fascinating history of Hertfordshire ornithology and of course an excellent account of the surveys and studies that have been undertaken in the county - something of which the Hertfordshire Natural History Society has a particularly strong history.

The species' accounts are always the real meat of any avifauna and this is where this book really comes into its own with a nice harmony between discussion of the species' status nationally/internationally and the relevance of this in a local context, along with some smart histograms (with a very clever colour contrast); the Grey Heron account is a good illustration of how well it works, with the comparison between breeding counts and winter counts. In addition the accounts are not overburdened with text and are all very readable and follow on nicely from the book's predecessors - the last avifauna in 1986 and the breeding atlas in 1993. Skilful use of mapping within each species account, allowing an instant comparison of the old and the new atlas distributions, as well as their relative abundance and winter distribution, alongside the use of tables of atlas results, where appropriate, is also very effective.

The alarming decline in the distribution of such 'common' species, like House Martin and Corn Bunting, is nicely highlighted by these maps; equally, this represents a dramatic contrast with those species that have so transformed the Hertfordshire airspace since the last books, such as Raven, Common Buzzard, Red Kite, Ring-necked Parakeet and Little Egret to name just a few. Another feature that I particularly liked was the groundbreaking use of maps to illustrate ringing recoveries - Cetti's Warbler and Tree Sparrow come to mind - so much better than a written account, or a list of records. The ability to be able to access and use the data to compile such maps and histograms shows what a strong link there is between birdwatchers, data-gatherers and ringers within the county.

The clever use of photographs throughout the book really enhances its overall appeal (and I'm not just talking about my shots). These days a rare bird has only got to stick its neck over the county boundary for someone to quickly add it to their memory card, but there has been a lot of sourcing of older photographs of the rarer and scarcer birds from the past (even including a 19th century bird!), which really adds to the overall appeal. Not forgetting Alan Harris' brilliant artistry interspersed throughout the book, which nicely rounds off the appearance.

There is never any hint of space being comprised and the A4 layout works particularly well, however it is far more than a coffee table book and in my opinion the overall appearance is second to none, greatly helped by Jack Fearnside's graphic design skills of course. The end result is nothing short of superb and this work will undoubtedly find its way onto the best bird books list for 2015. All plaudits will be very well deserved.

So, well done to all of you for producing a publication of which you can be justifiably proud.

Incidentally, I was completely flummoxed by the species order when I discovered the falcons amongst the woodpeckers! I never did understand taxonomy, but I will certainly view falcons in a different light from now on!

I will be dipping (excuse the pun) in-and-out of this book for many years to come.

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