Book review: Europe's Dragonflies by David Smallshire and Andy Swash

Dragonflies and damselflies can be tricky to identify. Luckily, the British David Smallshire and Andy Swash have released a beautiful, easy-to-use ID guide to Europe's dragons and damsels.

Some of my favourite things in nature are dragonflies and damselflies. If you go to any of our reserves, you will see these wonderfully coloured insects flitting from plant to plant and over lakes and streams. It is almost like a painter dabbing colour over a green canvas as you wander through grasslands at reserves like Brockholes, Mere Sands Wood and Heysham Nature Reserve.

If you too are captivated by these incredible insects and want to understand more about them, you can now buy 'Europe’s Dragonflies: A Field Guide to Damselflies and Dragonflies', by Dave Smallshire and Andy Swash, published by Wild Guides and Princeton University Press.

The front cover of the book, 'Europe's Dragonflies'

This glorious guide, in association with the British Dragonfly Society, helps you to identify and then get to know the dragonflies and damselflies across the whole Continent.

The book gives us close-up views of these fascinating creatures and cannot fail to be colourful, given the subject matter.

On opening the book I immediately searched for my favourites: the brown hawker, broad-bodied chaser and banded demoiselle. We even had a large red damselfly in our garden last year, so it was wonderful to find out more about this species as I turned the pages.

Each section of 'Europe's Dragonflies' looks at the types of dragonfly and then digs down into specific species. Many pictures have close-up inspections of body features, making identification easier when you're out and about.

Author, Dave Smallshire, has held prominent roles as an environmental adviser and is active in the British Dragonfly Society. Co-author, Andy Swash, is an author and wildlife photographer. Together they have produced an essential guide to add colour to your summer and ensure you catch the dragonfly bug.

Speaking of: I am heading out with their book now to find out more about dragonflies and damselflies.