Natural History Book Reviews
by Ian Fraser

Ian Fraser is a Canberra-based professional naturalist and writer (viz, he doesn’t make much money!) who is the author of eight books on local natural history, most recently Australian Bird Names, a complete guide, CSIRO Publishing 2013, with Jeannie Gray.

He has run the educational Environment Tours nature-based tours program since 1984 and has been the voice of natural history on local ABC radio since1992. The ABC in 2004 produced a four-CD set of his ‘Around the Bush Capital’ series. In 2001 he won the Australian Plants Award, Australian Native Plants Association, professional category and in 2006 he was awarded the Australian Natural History Medallion. In 2012 he launched the natural history blog ‘Ian Fraser, Talking Naturally’, at

He claims no expertise and has no natural history favourites – except for birds and orchids…

This periodic review is emailed free on request, in order to help anyone interested in Australian natural history to keep up with the burgeoning literature.


pdf icon


- The Complete Guide to Finding the Mammals of Australia. David Andrews 
- The Red Kangaroo in Central Australia. Thomas Newsome and Alan Newsome 
- Australian Plants for Canberra Region Gardens and other cool climate areas. Aust Native Plant Society Canberra Region
- Birdscaping Australian Gardens. George Adams 
- The Complete Guide to Butterflies of Australia - Second Edition. Michael Braby 
- Insects of South-Eastern Australia - An Ecological and Behavioural Guide. Roger Farrow 
- Miniature Lives: Identifying insects in your home and garden. Michelle Gleeson 
- Australian Predators of the Sky. Penny Olsen
- Australian Wildlife After Dark. Martyn Robinson and Bruce Thompson 


- Flooded Forest and Desert Creek. Matthew J Colloff 
- Southern Cross Safari: Around Australia by bus and train. Bruce Gall 
- Simply Saltbush: A guide to the identification of chenopods in the Murray region of SA. Nadine Brown 
- Butterflies of the world. Adrian Hoskins 
- Tales of Remarkable Birds. Dominic Couzens 
- In Search of Lost Frogs. Robin Moore 
- A History of Birwatching in 100 Objects. David Callahan 
- The World of Birds. Jonathon Elphick
- Seen but not heard: Lilian Medland's Birds. Christobel Mattingley 

pdf iconReview
# 20

- Photographic Guide to Native Plants of the ACT. Meredith Cosgrove 
- The Life and Art of William Cooper. Penny Olsen
- Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Seventh Edition. Harold G Cogger
- Finding Australian Birds. Tim Dolby and Rohan Clarke
- Best 100 Birdwatching Sites in Australia. Sue Taylor
- The Sixth Extinction. Elizabeth Kolbert
- A Guide to Cockroaches of Australia. David Rentz
- Booderee National Park .
David Lindenmayer, Christopher MacGregor, Nick Dexter, Martin Fortescue
- The Local Wildlife. Robert Drewe

pdf icon




- Common Plants of Central Australia.
Diane Napier, Jenny Purdie, Lesley Alford and Michael Barritt
- Where to See Wildlife in Tasmania. Dave Watts and Cathie Plowman
- Guide to the Great Western Woodlands.
Carolyn Thomson-Dans and 16 others
- Kangaroo. John Simons
- A Short Introduction to Climate Change. Tony Eggleton
- Earth Masters; playing God with the climate. Clive Hamilton

pdf icon

- Australian Lizards; a natural history. Steve K Wilson
- Birds of Prey of Australia; a field guide. Stephen Debus
- The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia; ninth edition.
Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight; edition edited by Sarah Pizzey
- Life in a Gall. Rosalind Blanche
- Kangaroos; second edition. Terence J Dawson
- Australia’s Amazing Kangaroos. Ken Richardson
- A Guide to Australia’s Spiny Freshwater Crayfish. Robert B McCormack
- John Gould’s Extinct and Endangered Birds of Australia. Sue Taylor
- What a Plant Knows; a field guide to the senses. Daniel Chamovitz
- Australia’s Fossil Heritage; a catalogue of important Australian fossil sites.
Australian Heritage Council
- Gliding Mammals of the World. Stephen Jackson and Peter Schouten

- Bats; working the night shift. Greg Richards and Les Hall
- Orchid Species of the Shoalhaven.
Alan Stephenson
- Common Plants; Victoria River District & Northern Barkly

Diane Napier, Nicholas Smith, Lesley Alford
- Common Plants of Australia’s Top End
Diane Napier, Nicholas Smith, Lesley Alford and Jacinda Brown
- Common Urban Weeds of North AustraliaMichael Schmid and Nicholas Smith
- Bird Sense; what it’s like to be a bird
. Tim Birkhead
- Mr J.W. Lewin; painter and naturalist. Richard Neville
- Nest; the art of birds. Janine Burke

- Australian High Country Owls. Jerry Olsen
- Burke & Wills; the scientific legacy of the Victorian Exploring Expedition.
EB Joyce and DA McCann (eds)
- Stray Feathers; reflections on the structure, behaviour and evolution of birds
. Penny Olsen and Leo Joseph
- My Little World
. Julia Cooke
- A Hostile Beauty; life on Macquarie Island. Alastair Dermer and Danielle Wood
- Frozen Planet; a world beyond imagination. Alastair Fothergill and Vanessa Berlowitz
- Living with Snakes and Other Reptiles. Simon Watharow
- The Biggest Estate on Earth; how Aborigines made Australia.
Bill Gammage

- The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia.
Richard Thomas, Sarah Thomas, David Andrew and Alan McBride
- The Curse of the Labrador Duck.
Glen Chilton
- Understanding the Scenery: Morton National Park and the coast from Nowra to Batemans Bay
. Bob and Ann Young
- My Little World
. Julia Cooke
- The Business of Nature: John Gould and Australia. Roslyn Russell
- Mistletoes of Southern Australia. David Watson
- Tidbinbilla A to Z. Tidbinbilla Volunteer Presenters
- Namadgi, a national park for the national capital.
Christine Goonrie and Clive Hurlstone

- Native Plants of the Sydney Region.
Alan Fairley and Philip Moore

pdf icon
- Forest Phoenix: how a great forest recovers after wildfire.
David Lindenmayer, David Blair, Lachlan McBurney, Sam Banks.
- Upside Down World: early European impressions of Australia`s curious animals.
Penny Olsen
- Parrots of the World.
Joseph Forshaw and Frank Knight
- A Guide to the Katydids of Australia.
David Rentz
- A Guide to the Beetles of Australia.
George Hangay and Paul Zoborwski
- Spider Silk; evolution and 400 million years of spinning, waiting, snagging and waiting.
Leslie Brunetta and Catherine L Craig
- Dingo.
Brad Purcell
- Australian Bustard.
Mark Ziembicki
- Reptiles of the NSW Murray Catchment: a guide to their identification and conservation.
Damian Michael and David Lindenmayer

pdf icon
- Bird Australia. Dorling Kindersley Publishers
- Australia’s Remarkable Trees. Richard Allen and Kimbal Baker
- Field Guide to the Frogs of Australia. Michael Tyler and Frank Knight
- Wombats - second edition. Barbara Triggs
- Wildlife of Australia. Louise Egerton and Jiri Lochman

pdf icon
- The Wisdom of Birds; an illustrated history of ornithology
- Boom and Bust; bird stories for a dry country
- Australian Bats; second edition
- Spiders; learning to love them
- The Complete Field Guide to Stick and Leaf Insects of Australia
- In the Wake of the Beagle; science in the southern oceans from the age of Darwin
- Sharks and Rays of Australia
- Mound Builders
- Spectacular Snakes of Australia
- Wildlife of Australia; a nature photographers' journey

- Owls, Frogmouths and Nightjars of Australia
- Albatross; their world, their way
- Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds
- Koala; a historical biography

- Field Guide to the Orchids of the Australian Capital Territory
- Field Guide to the Native Trees of the ACT
- The Mammals of Australia; third edition
- Albatrosses
- Bowerbirds
- Great Whales
- Feathered Dinosaurs; the origin of birds
- The Flower Hunter; the remarkable life of Ellis Rowan
- The Thinkers of the Jungle; the Orangutan report

pdf icon
- Glimpses of Paradise; a quest for the beautiful parrakeet
- Spirit of the Wedge-tailed Eagle; the art of Humphrey Price-Jones
- Native Mice and Rats
- Cockatoos
- Shorebirds of Australia
- Love and the Platypus
- Dictionary of Australian and New Guinea Mammals
- Wild Habitats; a natural history of Australian ecosystems
- Chrysalis; Maria Sibylla Merian and the secrets of metamorphosis

pdf icon
- Anoraks to Zitting Cisticolas; a whole lot of stuff about bird watching
- A Guide to Australian Moths
- Bettongs, Potoroos and the Musky Rat-kangaroo
- Field Guide to the Birds of Australia ; eighth edition
- Remarkable Birds; 100 of the world’s most unmissable birds
- Explore Australia’s National Parks
- The Ferocious Summer; Palmer’s penguins and the warming of Antarctica
- Antarctica; a different adventure

pdf icon
- A Complete Guide to Native Orchids of Australia
- The Encyclopedia of Mammals
- Crocodile; evolution’s greatest survivor
- Patriots; defending Australia’s natural heritage
- Voyages to the South Seas; in search of Terres Australes
- The Evolution Revolution; design without intelligence
- The Ancestor’s Tale; a pilgrimage to the dawn of life
- Roadkill

pdf icon
- The Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia.
- Fungi Down Under; the fungimap guide to Australian fungi.
- Grasses of South Australia; an illustrated guide to the native and naturalised species.
- Monarch Butterflies; saving the king of the New World.
- Namaqualand; Garden of the Gods.
- Terra Australis Incognita; the Spanish Quest for the Great South Land.
- The Life of George Bass; surgeon and sailor of the Enlightenment.
- Where Fate Beckons; the life of Jean-Francois de la Pérouse.
- Mr Stuart’s Track; the forgotten life of Australia’s greatest explorer.

pdf icon
- Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 7.
- Birds Britannica.
- Venom.
- Slow River; a journey down the Murray.
- How to be a Bad Birdwatcher; to the greater glory of life.
- Rifling Paradise.

pdf icon
- A Book for Maisie.
- TW Edgeworth David; a life
- Backyard Insects.
- Wedge-tailed Eagle.
- The Big Twitch.
- Flowers of the ACT and Region.
- Wild Neighbours; the humane approach to living with wildlife.
- Albatross; elusive mariners of the Southern Ocean

pdf icon
- Digging up Deep Time; fossils, dinosaurs and megabeasts from Australia’s distant past.
- Tree-Kangaroos of Australia and New Guinea.
- The French Explorers and the Aboriginal Australians 1772 - 1839.
- Encountering Terra Australis; the Australian voyages of Nicholas Baudin and Matthew Flinders.
- Sex in the Bush.

pdf icon
- Ocean Shores to Desert Dunes; the native vegetation of New South Wales and the ACT.
- Geology of Australia.
- Australia’s Volcanoes.
- The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia.
- The Big Year.
- Tree; a biography.
- Herons, Egrets and Bitterns; their biology and conservation in Australia.
- Birds of Australia’s Top End.

pdf icon
- A Guide to the Plants of inland Australia.
- Plants of the ACT - 2 CD-Rom set.
- Down by the Riverside; a field and management guide to native plants in and about the rivers of the Goulburn district, NSW.
- A Field Guide to Reptiles of NSW, & A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia.
- Rica Erickson; a naturalist’s life.
- A Pirate of Exquisite Mind; the life of William Dampier, explorer, naturalist and buccaneer.

powered by Kudos e-retailer