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Hi all

Apologies if this one's been asked 500 times before......

I'm currently in the Vendee at the moment but moving down to the Pyrenees after Christmas. I'd like to put a names to the 'faces' of bugs, birds, snakes, lizards, butterflies etc that i come across. I'm acting like a five-year-old at the moment whenever I spot something that I've never seen before! Which books/guides can you recommend? I've got the black Collins europe bird book already so I think those flying things are covered. Just been on Amazon and note that the Collins insects of britain and northern europe doesn't cover as far south as the Pyrenees..... so that one's no good. Probably easier (!) if they're in English, but please recommend any really good French langy ones as well!

Thanks for your suggestions!


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There aren't that many snakes and lizards, you will get that info in English from my web site.

I only use French books these days, so I'll list a few that may be of use, maybe someone else will have an English language alternative.

Unless you want to buy hundreds of books, Insects de France et Europe Occidentale ISBN 2-0820-1375-8 is a fairly good, small, field guide.

There is an excellent book from Biotope on Butterflies, about €45 I think, you can buy it on-line as there are very few stockists.



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(Copied from an earlier posting of mine):

I studied zoology and ecology at university and looked long and hard for a book offering me sufficient information to satisfy my needs:  I would definitely recommend the following which you can get on Amazon.fr :

Inventaire de la faune de France: Vertébrés et principaux invertébrés

What I like about this book is that it not only gives you a very good reference guide for birds but also for other vertebrates including mammals, amphibians and reptiles.

Each animal has half a page dedicated to it which gives you an awful lot of information on the diet, reproduction, habit, habitat and rarity of the species.

The absolutely wonderful thing about it, for me, is that every animal has a map of France associated with it which shows you whether it is present in your department and if so whether it is rare or common.  Other information given is "historique et perspective"which tells you whether the animal is in decline or threatened and also whether it is indigenous to France or whether it has been introduced.  I know it is quite a bit of money (about £25) but really well worth it - I refer to it on an almost daily basis when I am in France.

Hope this helps!



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Hi Squidge

I have to say I have researched this subject long and hard and I cannot find an independent wildlife guide of France in English.  I wasnt looking as far down as you, but I couldn't find any for France at all. Its a shame because I am learning French but its not quite that good and I do try to read french but when you want to refer to a guide its a bit frustrating when you have to then look it up in the language dictionary.  I have 2 dogs and I know there is poisonous stuff out there, but we are also really interested in identifying different types of wildlife.  Theres a bit of a niche there I think for a full wildlife guide in english.

Any way I am going to have a look at those recommended above and take the plunge.  Good luck, if you or any one finds anything, let us know.


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It would be economically a waste of time to write a library of books in English about the entire range of species in France. Can you imagine just how many beetles there are?

There are already some good books in English, Collins guides for example which cover Europe, and although I don't have any of these I have had a look at some owned by acquaintances, Mammals of Europe, Butterflies of Europe etc, and although very general (and always out of date) they should be good enough for most people.

In academic circles there is much more information available, but these are rarely publications and are more concerned with cooperation and sharing information between International study groups and Universities, and as far as a universal language goes, we have Latin for naming species, if you have the Latin, moving from one language to another becomes easy, all good guides have "the common name" in the local language and the scientific name in Latin, usually in two indexes.

What I would really suggest to anyone who is interested seriously enough in these matters is to join a French association and get involved locally.

I have put lists for "mammals" "reptiles" "amphibians" "birds" in France on my web site in Latin / English / French to try and make this easier for people.

The situation is made more complex by the vast number of species to be found in France, there are more species in Midi Pyrenees than in the whole of the UK.



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