I have recently acquired another copy of the Shell Bird Book by James Fisher from a second hand book emporium, and very good it is too. Youngsters that may happen upon this blog may not have heard of it but you will find that many 'old codgers' will speak fondly of it. I may be wrong but I think that there was more than one version produced, the version that I am referring to is not a field guide, but a book about birds or perhaps more accurately a book about everything about british birds.
Flicking through it and also reading chunks of it has been great but the thing that stood out most to me was the artwork by Eric Ennion. In the field guides we have now, such as the Collins and the big Helm Gull book etc the artwork, although excellent and accurate, is often cold and clinical. We need this. Indeed we all pretty much asked for it but this isn’t a grumble about what we have now, just an observation. If you look at the field guides from the fifties onwards (once the Thorburn images in the Observer books were quietly put to one side), there seemed to be more life in the artwork but this all changed with the Peterson model as birders were desperate for more definitive illustrations. Gone now are the dodgy impressions of birds not seen in life by the artists and Stone Curlews looking backwards in flight.
The Ennion plates in the Shell book, and from what I have seen of his field guide, give more of the impression, the movement and I suppose for the want of a better word – jizz of a species and are nothing but pleasurable to view.
Have a look at the example below of a Pied Wagtail which I have 'borrowed' from the Eric Ennion estate
The website on has much more of his stuff, the phalarope picture on the home page is great and the long-tailed tits on this page are a delight. Rummage around the site and you'll see that his landscapes are pretty good too.
So there you have it. 200 posts.
I'll probably be back to swearing about gulls tomorrow.