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Old Wednesday 5th May 2004, 19:19   #1
Surreybirder
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Smile What do you think of Waring, Townsend and Lewington's moth guide?

I was wondering how others rate Townsend and Waring's book, which I've reviewed
HERE

And why do I keep getting all the /////// in the review, even though they were not there when I posted it???
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Old Wednesday 5th May 2004, 19:49   #2
mike coleman
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It's an excellent book, and well worth the money for anybody interested in moths from beginners up to those more familiar with a larger range of species. The plates are very good, the variation of poses is clever and the text is concise and as informative as can be fitted in a field guide, even down to the family splits and background/general information on each family.
I would however agree with you though, if you are a keen trapper, it still isn't easy to get the correct identification straight away on the smaller, more boring little chaps. I guess that isn't really the point though, and if keen and dedicated trappers are struggling, they probably combine this book with Skinner - formerly the Bible. I suggest the combination of both books by far and away the best option.
On the web, the site http://www.ukmoths.force9.co.uk is also another good mothy place to go. The number of species is being increased all the time, and some of the photographs are in much more natural, wing-closed poses. Use all three and I would say pretty much every British moth can be rumbled. As for infrequent migrants, I don't know. Not too many up here in The Highlands!
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Old Wednesday 5th May 2004, 20:56   #3
Angus T
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If I never had Skinner I'd probably think it was fantastic, but aspects of it I'm finding very irritating.
Not having all the plates together. This aspect is not too bad now as I know whether the moth is a noctuid or geometer etc, but still find it hard to find relevant plates. When I started I'd go through every single plate in Skinner for every moth.
The other thing that irritates me is not having the exact page for the text. The range of pages is given at the top of each plate. This could be 6-7 pages.

I'm sure that these couple of points wouldn't annoy others as much as me.
I've had Waring et al for a few months now, and am finding myself just taking out Skinner when going through the trap the trap and falling back to Waring for the odd ID.

There are many great aspects to the book, and I'm particularly delighted with how it deals with pugs. This was probably the worst part of Skinner and Waring is so much better.

I haven't mentiones all the many other good points that Ken and Mike have mentioned. These easily outweigh the minuses.

I'd have to agree with Mike in that the combination of Skinner and Waring is the best option as they complement each other very well.
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Old Wednesday 5th May 2004, 23:08   #4
harry eales
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Townsend and Lewingtons book is good, and the first to show the majority of moths in a natural pose. The distribution data is more up to date than Skinner but that's to be expected, in some species the distribution is already out of date because of changing distribution patterns. It is 'macro's' only although some of these are so small as to be mistaken for 'micro's' by the neophyte.

There are however some drawbacks, there are several species where it it critical that the hindwing be examined in order to confirm identifications and with one or two exceptions, these are not shown. There are also some species which cannot be reliably identified without examination of the genitalia, I am thinking here about the Grey and Dark Daggers, the Autumnal Moths and the Ear moths to mention just three areas where the beginner and sometimes the expert can err. Colour patterns are very variable in some moths with some identification pattern features missing in others.

Some common forms of 'variation' are shown, but when one considers that J.W.Tutt published four volumes on the variations to be found within the British Noctuids alone, there are always going to be some difficulties in identification.

As a Field Guide it is a little on the large and heavy side, but in all honesty I don't think it could be made more compact. The notes for each species are about as brief as they can be. I certainly won't be carrying it around with me. The illustrations are supurb, as is to be expected from Richard Lewington.

Basic collecting methods are described, but it is not a book on how to collect or catch insects, it is about identification. There are other books that cover these subjects.

Overall I would rate it at nine out of ten, and it's certainly worth a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in Moths. I would suggest that it be used in conjunction with Skinner when identifying difficult species.

The price is not that high when you consider the costs of other publications of similar quality. If you have something you can't identify from either this or Skinner's books try and obtain several photographs from varying angles at put them up in this Forum.

Harry Eales.
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Old Thursday 6th May 2004, 08:02   #5
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[quote=Angus T]
The other thing that irritates me is not having the exact page for the text. The range of pages is given at the top of each plate. This could be 6-7 pages.

QUOTE]
Yes, that is very trying!
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Old Thursday 6th May 2004, 09:31   #6
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Showing the moths at rest does it for me and makes this book invaluable but like others I use Skinner as well. Like others I also find the page number referencing in the plates annoying and it would have been nice to have hindwings illustrated where necessary. Some are shown in set position so I don't see why others couldn't have been.

When I got Skinner last year I was disappointed at the lack of notes in the text and the detail of small moths, especially pugs, is very difficult to make out in the plates. Showing the pugs larger than life size in Waring et al is a real bonus. Although it doesn't say so in the plate the Black Arches are also shown larger than life size as I discovered when I caught a Least last week. There is also a lot more information on appearance and distribution in the text.

I am just about to buy Goater (British Pyralid Moths), so what do folk think of that? (Not that there is much alternative I guess).
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Old Thursday 6th May 2004, 10:04   #7
Steve Lister
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For 'morning-after' trap emptying it is fine. If you are out at night identifying things it is not so easy to use as Skinner, or so I am told, not having got that advanced yet.

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Old Thursday 6th May 2004, 10:04   #8
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Not seen it. Don't need it. Got Skinner.
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Old Thursday 6th May 2004, 10:13   #9
Steve Lister
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJW
Not seen it. Don't need it. Got Skinner.

If you did see it you might think that you do need it; it has a lot that Skinner does not, and the two do complement each other.

Steve
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Old Thursday 6th May 2004, 11:53   #10
harry eales
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianhstone
Showing the moths at rest does it for me and makes this book invaluable but like others I use Skinner as well. Like others I also find the page number referencing in the plates annoying and it would have been nice to have hindwings illustrated where necessary. Some are shown in set position so I don't see why others couldn't have been.

When I got Skinner last year I was disappointed at the lack of notes in the text and the detail of small moths, especially pugs, is very difficult to make out in the plates. Showing the pugs larger than life size in Waring et al is a real bonus. Although it doesn't say so in the plate the Black Arches are also shown larger than life size as I discovered when I caught a Least last week. There is also a lot more information on appearance and distribution in the text.

I am just about to buy Goater (British Pyralid Moths), so what do folk think of that? (Not that there is much alternative I guess).
Hello Brian,
I have a copy of Goater's British Pyralid Moths purchased secondhand but in 'mint' condition. It contain a lot more species than Beirne's Pyralid and Plume Moths 1954. F.Warne & Co. Wayside and Woodland Series. This latter book cost 15/- (75p) when I bought mine in the 1950's. It now sells secondhand (if you can find a copy) at well over 100.

However, Goater does not include the Plume Moths, a pity. My copy was obviously owned by a Cumbrian entomologist as it contains fine pencil notes against various species giving locations and dates where he/she had recorded various Pyralid species. This book is a 'must have' as far as I am concerned.

There is an excellent book on 'Pugs' called British and Irish Pug Moths by Riley and Prior, available from Harley Books at 29.50. 264 pages. It is in hardback only, but I think it will prove to be the definative monograph on this species for many years to come. I can thoroughly recommend it.

Harry Eales.

Last edited by harry eales : Thursday 6th May 2004 at 11:55.
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Old Tuesday 11th May 2004, 07:29   #11
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[quote=Surreybirder]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Angus T
The other thing that irritates me is not having the exact page for the text. The range of pages is given at the top of each plate. This could be 6-7 pages.

QUOTE]
Yes, that is very trying!
This gets me too! Probably my main gripe as a man who doesn't know anything else.

It was Paul Waring who introduced me to mothing with a demonstration at last year's Birdfair (which is where I bought the book hot off the press), so I start with a bias in its favour. Think I might give Skinner a go though. I'm stumped on the "Carpet-type thing" ID thread I've posted this morning.
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Old Friday 14th May 2004, 21:05   #12
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Seems like I have another gripe about Waring. One person I correspond with here in Ireland uses the scientific names usually just using the first letter of first part as in O.gothica (Hebrew Character) Waring indexes this under Orthosia and not under Gothica which Skinner and any other guides I've seen does.
So its to Skinner to look up what moths are being mentioned.
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