Extinct Birds, 2nd edition








608 pp.




Bloomsbury Natural History


104 black and white illustrations by the author


246 x 189 mm


Extinct Birds was the first comprehensive review of the hundreds of the bird species and subspecies that have become extinct over the last 1,000 years of habitat degradation, over-hunting and rat introduction. It has become the standard text on this subject, covering both familiar icons of extinction as well as more obscure birds, some known from just one specimen or from travellers’ tales. This second edition is expanded to include dozens of new species, as more are constantly added to the list, either through extinction or through new subfossil discoveries.

Extinct Birds is the result of decades of research into literature and museum drawers, as well as caves and subfossil deposits, which often reveal birds long-gone that disappeared without ever being recorded by scientists while they lived. From Greak Auks, Carolina Parakeets and Dodos to the amazing yet almost completely vanished bird radiations of Hawaii and New Zealand via rafts of extinction in the Pacific and elsewhere, this book is both a sumptuous reference and astounding testament to humanity’s devastating impact on wildlife.

Each copy sold will include a unique original drawing of the buyer’s choice

Nova Scotia, Canada

Nova Scotia is as remote as it is comparatively unpopulated, and if you want to get away from it all, this is the place to go. Halifax is the capital, and from here a long drive north will get you to Cape Breton Island, where the spectacular coastlines and abundant wildlife, including Black Bears and moose, abound.

For ornithologists, the bird life is impressive, and the sight of two Bald Eagles flying overhead of which one swooped down next to the boat to take fish is one to remember.  On the more remote and undisturbed sandy beaches, you may be lucky enough to see the threatened Piping Plover, Charadrius melodus, a species in decline due to loss of habitat.

Nova Scotia is famous for its fossil localities, and Joggins fossil cliffs with associated museums are an absolute must.

Canada is expensive, including the cost of fuel, and as driving anywhere is an absolute necessity, getting around is by far the costliest part of the trip. Nonetheless, the country is beautiful, the people friendly, and the seafood out of this world.

Excavation of Mare aux Songes, Mauritius

December 2017

excavation-of-mare-aux-songes-mauritius_0The Mare aux Songes (MAS) fossil site was discovered in 1865, and has been excavated on a number of occasions. Almost all of the world’s dodo fossil specimens were discovered at this one site. The MAS has been excavated from 2005 to 2010, and spectacular discoveries have been made (see my publications list).

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town has all the luxuries of modern cities, yet retains an inexpensive economy. It is dominated by the spectacular Table Mountain, which on most days has a veil of white cloud covering the summit. It is possible to hike to the top or to take a cable car ride, both of which provide spectacular views. Once on top and if conditions are right, one can be blessed with unprecedented views of Cape Town and the adjacent mountains ranges.

Be prepared for the drastic change in temperature. Cape Town can be bitter cold on one day, followed by baking heat the next. A hike over the top of Table Mountain can result in cloud-free exposure to the sun – and at altitude – so sun protection and water are essential.

Okasaki, Japan

Okasaki is one of the smaller cities, situated on the largest Japanese island of Honshu. Although it is a modern city, it still retains a large proportion of small, traditional houses. Okasaki benefits from an almost crime-free environment, and it was extremely pleasurable to be able to walk around the city late at night to see Japanese couples, both young and old, enjoying the tranquil city nights.

I stayed near the Yahagi River, and it was well stocked with carp which responded to feeding alongside ducks and geese. The Otagawa River is the main river tributary in Osaki, and worth a visit in the early morning.

The food takes some getting used to, and it is one of the few places that I have been in the world where many of the culinary items on offer are unrecognisable. Unfortunately, the tastes of some of the weirdest items were a big disappointment, being rather bland or just plain grotesque. However, Japan is still a great experience for those wanting to try something new.

Photos from this expedition.