The dragonflies of Great Britain and Ireland, by Cyril O. Hammond
Notulae odonatologicae , Volume 1 - Issue 1 p. 14- 16
F.R.E.S. 115 pp., 23 figs., 20 col. pis., 44 maps incl. Curwen Books (The Curwen Press Ltd., North Street, Plaistow, London, W13 9HJ), 1977. – Price: £9.75. The publication of a new book on dragonflies is a rare event in any part of the world. This fact and Cynthia Longfield’s opening statement in her Foreword to Cyril Hammond’s book that ’’This is the Dragonfly book of the Century” combine to quicken the odonatologist’s pulse. I hasten to add that mine returned rapidly to its slow measured rhythm after the initial thrill of opening the book. The book’s meagre 115 pages would be expensive reading at the published price of £9.75 even if it were full of new information. Unfortunately, eighteen pages are accounted for by a republication of A.E. Gardner’s Key to Larvae, which was first printed in the Entomologist’s Gazette in 1954 and which was later to appear in the Collins New Naturalist volume ’’Dragonflies” by Corbet, Longfield and Moore in 1960. As good as this key is, 1 do not think it should have appeared yet again in the present book, even if the untimely death of Eric Gardner robbed us of a Part II volume on the larvae which has been planned. A further three pages based largely on Fraser’s 1956 key in the Royal Entomological Society of London’s Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects, is devoted to the determination of the imaginal stages. In such a slim volume it is astonishing to find that the valuable distribution maps produced by the Biological Records Centre, Huntingdon, all appear twice, once as small scale maps two or three to a page accompanying the colour plates and later in the more usable form in a separate section. The small maps could easily have been omitted and replaced by the larger ones printed alongside the relevant species text and figures.
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