This is the first book to be written on the birds of England, which is quite surprising given other country (Wales, Ireland, Scotland) avifaunas have been available for many years. It took some time to get used to thinking about England as opposed to Britain as an ornithological area but the authors have done very well to keep the focus on England throughout. This is a monumental book: 700 pages, 50 photographs and numerous line drawings throughout. The authors, Andy Brown and Phil Grice, who both hold senior posts at English Nature, the statutory nature conservation agency in England (the other UK countries have their own agencies), have done a tremendous job in digesting so much information into a well-written, concise and fact-filled book. Their rigorous scientific background and genuine enthusiasm for birds shines through in the introductory chapters and species accounts, and the reference list of over 50 pages is testimony to how well researched the book is. Following a brief introduction, a chapter entitled ‘The composition and character of the English avifauna’ spans 29 pages, and covers subjects such as English birds in a global context, migration, weather and climate change. This is an impressive chapter with 34 tables summarising facts and figures relating to the English avifauna such as new breeding species, species that have gone extinct as breeders, subspecies restricted as breeding birds to England and adjacent areas (e.g. Razorbill Alca torda islandica), early and late migrant dates, exceptional visible migration counts, exceptional falls (e.g. Holme, Norfolk September 1993), and autumn influxes of Nearctic waders. For the seabird enthusiast, a table details 12 notable English seawatches to demonstrate the variation in species composition and numbers of seabirds that pass our coastal headlands. For example, 77,500 Kittiwakes passed Flamborough, Yorkshire on 21 August 1988, 20,000+ Gannets passed St Ives, Cornwall, on 3 September 1983 with 20-50,000 Manx Shearwaters on the same day are some of the most notable counts. Another fascinating table, and one which I will refer to regularly in my work, is of ‘Unusual avian events in England 1900-2000’, which includes the incident of hundreds of seabirds being killed during a hailstorm on 2 July 1914 in Teesmouth, Cleveland, the exceptional inland passage of Common and Arctic Terns in 1947, the influx of Grey Phalaropes and Sabine’s Gulls in the storms of 1987, and the largest passage of Cory’s Shearwaters in Cornwall in 1998.