2021 Meetings

Friday January 8th 2021, 7.30 pm, entry from 7.20 pm,using the Zoom video platform

'Bermuda's birds: 400 species for 21 square miles' by Andrew Dobson

Andrew had a life-long career in teaching. He moved to Cambridge in 2018 after nearly 30 years in Bermuda. He was President of the Bermuda Audubon Society and his ‘Birdwatching Guide to Bermuda’ is now out of print. He is serving a second term as President of Birds Caribbean and is a regional editor for North American Birds. His bird photos have appeared in many books, journals and travel magazines.

In his talk, previously given to the Linnaean Society of New York, he will explain how an isolated island of only 21 square miles and with 20 breeding species can have recorded nearly 400 bird species. The reasons for the relatively large number of species will be discussed, including Bermuda’s isolation from other land areas, its situation in relation to the Gulf Stream, migration routes and weather patterns experienced in the autumn months. Andrew will highlight the remarkable story of the Bermuda Petrel or Cahow – a great conservation success.

Photo: Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak (image by Mike Watson/Birdquest)

Friday February 12th 2021, 7.30 pm, entry from 7.20 pm, using the Zoom video platform

'Birds of Oman' by Mike Watson

Mike Watson has been a wildlife enthusiast since he was a child, growing up in Northeast England on Tyneside in the 1970s, and has always had an interest in nature and photography. In 2004, after a 20 year career in banking, he decided to quit to travel the world. Since joining tour company Birdquest in September 2005, he has guided on all seven continents to a wide variety of destinations.

Mike will be talking about his many visits to the Sultanate of Oman, the most exciting birding destination in the Middle East. Situated on the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, it has a wide variety of birdlife from Middle Eastern specialities to Palearctic, Afrotropical and Oriental migrants as well as some special seabirds - and all this in some of the most dramatic desert scenery in the world.

Friday March 12th 2021, 7.30 pm, entry from 7.20 pm, using the Zoom video platform

Club AGM followed by 'Bempton Cliffs & Filey Bay - Seabird Nirvana' by Mark Pearson

From the natural harbour of Filey Brigg to the towering chalk of Bempton Cliffs, one of Yorkshire's most iconic and breathtaking panoramas also just so happens to the best bay for birds on the east coast. Home not only to a glittering cast of breeding seabirds (Gannets & Puffins included), but also to a mouth-watering roll-call of passage and wintering goodies, including skuas, divers, shearwaters, sea-ducks, shorebirds and more. Join Mark for a special version of his acclaimed Birdfair talk through four seasons in one bay!

AGM papers are here

Friday 9th April 2021, 7.30 pm, entry from 7.20 pm, using the Zoom video platform

‘Three Craws Sat Upon a Wa’ by David Jardine

This talk is a comparative study of three crows occurring in the Inner Hebrides (Chough, Raven and Hooded Crow) exploring our knowledge of their breeding, population biology and differing conservation issues.

David Jardine is a retired forest manager who has served on the boards of BTO and the RSPB and is the current chair of the Argyll Raptor Study Group. He is a ringer who has worked on a range of species during his many visits to the islands of Colonsay and Oronsay.

Friday 14th May 2021, 7.30 pm, entry from 7.20 pm, using the Zoom video platform

‘The fascinating cognitive abilities of corvids’ by Claudia Wascher


A corvid is a member of the passerine bird family Corvidae, which includes crows, magpies, ravens, jays, and choughs. Corvids are distributed worldwide and inhabit harsh environments such as mountainous regions, but also thrive in urban areas. Corvids are of broad significance for behavioural and ornithological research not only because of their ability to adapt to diverse habitats and live in complex societies, but also because of their remarkable cognitive skills. In this talk, Claudia Wascher will give an overview over recent findings of cognition research in different corvid species and will discuss what we can learn about the evolution of cognition from corvids.

Claudia, is a senior lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, experienced in social cognition and physiology, interested in the evolution of cooperation as well as costs and benefits of social behaviour. For her PhD she studied greylag geese at the Konrad-Lorenz research station in Austria.

11th June: ‘From ploughed field to wildlife heaven’ Dunkirk, 6km NNW of Ely (click - TL514859) Early booking essential.

In April 2007 a 3ha scrape was created and flooded in farmland and within weeks was occupied by breeding waders, including avocets. Since then the site has been expanded including providing home to a thriving colony of Sand Martins. Tony Martin, who owns and created the site, will host the visit. We will visit each area, including the hide and the Sand Martin colony in groups of five from 18.30 onwards and finish the visit with an overview by Tony on his Fenland rewilding project.

2nd July: Gamlingay Wood, an Ancient Woodland site, and Sugley Wood. 18.30 start.

Please note on-site parking will be available for this visit but will be limited - booking essential. Further details will be sent on booking.

The 70 hectare wood is located off the Gamlingay Road (B1040), northeast of Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire. Gamlingay Wood is owned and managed as a nature reserve by the Wildlife Trust BCN. The ancient woodland has a rich flora and fauna, including woodland butterflies. Sugley Wood adjoining Gamlingay Wood is former arable land purchased by the Trust in 2002 and now being managed to slowly revert to woodland.


13th August: Kingfishers Bridge - meet on site at 18.30

Since 1995, the Kingfishers Bridge nature reserve, started by private initiative, has transformed 250 acres of farmland into a mosaic of habitats. Reedbed, open water, limestone cliff, water meadows, scrapes and ditches provide vital resting and breeding sites for birds and other wildlife. Situated some ten miles north of Cambridge and bordered by the River Cam, the reserve has employed pioneering conservation techniques that have led to a remarkable recovery in both flora and fauna. Kingfishers Bridge has now attracted more than 210 different bird species, over 90 of which have bred here. This richness in bird species is matched by over 500 species of plants and an increasingly rich fauna of recorded butterflies and moths and many other invertebrates.

Bruce Martin, Graeme Reed and a member of the warden team will introduce us to the site and current conservation projects.

How to find the reserve and parking

Map ref TL543733

Kingfishers Bridge Nature Reserve

Stretham Road

Wicken, Ely

Cambs CB7 5XL

The reserve is located to the north of the A1123 between the villages of Wicken and Stretham. Look carefully for the sign to The Kingfishers Bridge Nature Reserve opposite the turning to Upware. Once you have parked we will meet at the Visitor Centre at 18.30.

There will be a chance to make a contribution towards the conservation work of Kingfishers Bridge nature reserve at the end of the visit.

Please follow appropriate HMG Covid guidance.


Friday 10th September 2021.

IMPORTANT CHANGE TO TIME: it will start at 7.00 pm i.e. 30 minutes earlier than originally stated, hence the entry to Zoom will be from 6.40 pm.


‘Curlews in crisis: reasons for their decline and hope for their conservation’ by Samantha Franks

This talk will cover the causes of curlew declines, and how BTO's research on curlew and other waders is contributing to informing the future of waders in the UK.

Sam's interests focus on exploring how our changing environment is influencing bird populations, particularly for long-distance migrants and waders. After several years working in the Alaskan Arctic, she joined BTO in 2013 and is leading elements of the BTO's breeding wader research, with a particular focus on curlew. Currently, she represents BTO at national curlew forums, provides scientific support for local groups monitoring breeding waders, and supervises a PhD project investigating landscape-scale conservation management for breeding curlew in Breckland.

Friday 8th October 2021, 7.30 pm, entry from 7.20 pm, using the Zoom video platform

‘Conservation on a crowded planet: can we have our cake and eat it?’ by Tom Finch

This talk will introduce the contentious ‘land sharing land sparing’ debate. Tom will use data collected from The Fens and Salisbury Plain to present a promising solution to the wicked problem of how to feed the world without costing the earth.

Tom is a researcher at the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science. He is interested in agriculture, land-use, climate change and bird migration.

Friday 12th November, 7.30 pm, entry from 7.20 pm, using the Zoom video platform

‘All the space in the world: how rewilding our lands can save Britain’s birds’ by Ben Macdonald

Britain is blessed with space. Huge areas of this space produce little in the way of viable food supplies. They sustain few livelihoods, and no young people’s futures. We waste space in a way no other nation would allow. The solution is simple: the restoration of our native landscapes, our wildlife - and most of all, our rural jobs. Nature makes money, creates genuine local income, and affords the prospect of a life without subsidy for our dying rural communities.

Friday 10th December

Christmas Social