2024 Meetings

2024 Meetings

Our indoor meetings continue to be organised by Vicki Harley.  Special thanks go to her for the many years of interesting and informative talks.  

Indoor Meetings are held on the second Friday of the month in person and may occasionally be available only via Zoom.  Details of links for Zoom meetings are provided in the e-Bulletin distributed to members.  In-person meetings are now held in the Main Hall at Cottenham Community Centre, 250A High St, Cottenham CB24 8RZ

See https://www.cottenhamcc.org/map/ .  The Centre is opposite the Co-op store.  On-street parking. Enter via the side door, where there is a ramp.

There is a £2.00 charge for non-members at in-person indoor meetings.   If the Zoom platform is used, a link is available on request to guests (non-members).  Check the details for each talk and if Zoom is an option, please email Louise.Bacon'at'Cambridgebirdclub.org.uk 

Programme for 2024

Friday 12 January:  'Avian vagrancy, pattern and process' by  Alex Lees   

Zoom entry from 7.15pm, talk starts at 7.30pm, using the Zoom video platform ONLY.

Avian vagrancy - the appearance of individual birds away from their normal geographic ranges -  is a phenomenon that has fascinated natural historians for centuries. From Victorian collectors willing to spend fortunes on a rare specimen, to today's high-octane bird-chasing 'twitchers', the enigma of vagrancy has become a source of obsession for countless birders worldwide. This talk will explore both pattern and process in avian vagrancy, drawing on recent research to answer a suite of fundamental questions concerning the occurrence of rare birds and explain why the phenomenon is important in this era of global change.


Alex is a Reader in Biodiversity at Manchester Metropolitan University, working principally on the impacts of land-use change on bird populations. He has long maintained an interest in avian vagrancy and with James Gilroy, recently authored the first book on the subject. As well as serving as the Chair of the British Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee (BOURC) he is a member of the United Nations Science Panel for the Amazon, the IUCN Species Survival Commission, Red List Authority, and the Manchester Biodiversity Action Group. He recently retired from the Brazilian Ornithological Records Committee.

Friday 9 February:  'The RBBP: monitoring rare breeding birds in the UK' by  Mark Eaton   

7.30pm start, using the Zoom video platform  ONLY - entry from 7.20pm

The Rare Breeding Birds Panel was established in 1972 as an independent body to collate data and report on the status of the country’s rarest breeding birds. Mark will give an overview of the work of the RBBP, share some of its most recent findings on rare breeding birds across the UK, and show how birdwatchers can help the work of the Panel.


Dr Mark Eaton is a freelance conservation scientist who spends most of his time working as the Secretary of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel; he also sits on the board of the European Bird Census Council and British Ornithologists’ Union, and was previously Principal Conservation Scientist in Monitoring Science in the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science. As this would suggest, his expertise lies in developing the monitoring and reporting on the status of birds and other biodiversity both in the UK and overseas. When not doing this he’s usually to be found birding in the Northumberland countryside.

Friday 8 March, 7.30pm: Annual General Meeting,' followed by England’s Wild East Coast', by Steve Rowland.  Main Hall at Cottenham  Community Centre, 250A High St, Cottenham CB24 8RZ.

Steve Rowland has worked for the RSPB for over 30 years and is currently Area Manager for Norfolk and Lincolnshire. He has spent most of his career working on England’s East Coast, one of the UK and Europe’s most important wild places. In his talk he will take us on a journey through this special landscape.

Friday 12 April, 7.30pm:  'Island Conservation: Past damage, developing understanding, modern solutions', by Mike Brooke.             

After expeditions to seabird islands a Cambridge undergraduate, Michael Brooke, was hooked.  Since then, he has been lucky enough to travel the world in pursuit of seabirds, in conjunction with an academic career at Cambridge University.  This period has seen a revolution in the ability of conservationists to undo the damage done to remote islands by alien invasive species. The talk will address why alien species so often have the ecological edge over an island's native species, and how this knowledge has fed into island restoration projects, mostly notably those involving the eradication of rats and other nasties. 


After completing a seabird DPhil at Oxford while employed as warden of Skokholm Bird Observatory, Michael undertook post-docs at Oxford and then Cambridge. He is now Strickland Curator of Ornithology (Emeritus) at the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge. His conservation work ranges from the  strictly practical to more theoretical research which nevertheless aims to provide information of direct use to conservation planning.

Friday 10 May , 7.30pm:  'Thirty years of Breeding Birds Survey’ by James Heywood, Breeding Birds Survey National Organiser, BTO (This a change from the previously advertised talk by Iain Webb, due to unforeseen circumstances).

Main Hall at Cottenham  Community Centre, 250A High St, Cottenham CB24 8RZ.

Summer evening outdoor meetings 2024

Dates for your diary - The Club has four field trips planned for this Summer:

Contact / booking via Erica Towner: fieldtrips@cambridgebirdclub.org.uk

Summer evening outdoor meeting, Friday 24th May (changed from 17th May) 2024 King’s Dyke Nature Reserve near Whittlesey

Meeting on-site for a 19.00 start

The trip will be led by Phil Parker, Managing Director of Philip Parker Associates.

Early booking recommended. Final details including parking and meeting place will be sent in late April/early May.  Contact / booking via Erica Towner: fieldtrips@cambridgebirdclub.org.uk


This private nature reserve created from former brickwork pits has been developed as an educational Nature Reserve for the benefit of the local community. The reserve has been extended on a regular basis and now covers approximately 70ha.  It includes a wide range of habitats from open water, marsh, a large reedbed, grassland, old hedgerows, ponds and open bare areas.  It is due to more than double in size in the coming year with the inclusion of the restored Bradley Fen site. The history of this site dates back to the 1920’s when clay for bricks was dug by pick-axe and shovel. The site was worked out in the 1970’s and was finally restored in 1995. It now offers a wonderful example of how industrial land can be transformed to benefit both wildlife and the local community.


Summer evening outdoor meeting,  Friday 28th June 2024  Chippenham Fen NNR

Meeting on-site for 19.00 start

The visit will be led by Mike Taylor, Reserve Manager.

Early booking recommended. Final details including parking and meeting place will be sent in early June. Contact / booking via Erica Towner: fieldtrips@cambridgebirdclub.org.uk


Chippenham Fen is four miles north of Newmarket on the road between Snailwell and Chippenham.  It is a superb example of undrained fenland with a rich variety of habitats set within 112 hectares. Access to the reserve is usually limited to the public footpaths which run through the middle and northern edge of the reserve so this is a chance to go “off grid’ and  explore the reserve, its wildlife and the conservation measures in place.  The Chippenham Parish website includes information about the reserve, its history, bird and other wildlife:  https://chippenhamcambs.info/chippenham-fen 


Summer evening outdoor meeting, Friday 12th July 2024  Ouse Washes RSPB Reserve, Welches Dam

Meeting on-site for 19.00 start

The visit will be led by Mike Burdekin, Reserve Warden

Early booking recommended. Final details including parking and meeting place will be sent in late June. Contact / booking via Erica Towner: fieldtrips@cambridgebirdclub.org.uk


The Ouse Washes were originally created by the Dutch engineer Cornelius Vermuyden to store flood water as part of the 17th Century drainage of the Fens. Today the Ouse Washes is one of the largest areas of lowland wet grassland in the UK with exceptional importance for bird species throughout the year and other wildlife (SSSI, SPA, Ramsar). It also provides a flood storage reservoir 30kms long and up to 0.8 kms wide providing 1,900 hectares of land with a capacity to hold 90,000,000 cubic metres of water (the Ouse Washes Flood Storage Reservoir). The visit will explore the Washes ahead of letting the scrapes dry down during August in preparation for any maintenance work needed in September.  A couple of useful links including a video of how the Ouse Washes work:







Summer evening outdoor meeting, a Friday evening in August: Dernford Reservoir, south of Stapleford

Meeting on-site for 18.30 start. Confirmation of date and further details in future bulletins and on this website. Contact / booking via Erica Towner: fieldtrips@cambridgebirdclub.org.uk


Many thanks to Andrew Dobson for the following: 

“Dernford Reservoir has become one of my favourite birding locations. It’s only a 15 minute cycle from my house, or if I’m burdened with scope, tripod and camera equipment – 5 minutes in the car. The reservoir was only created a couple of years ago following gravel extraction and now serves as the Dernford Farm reservoir, accessed by a farm track off the A1301 after driving south through Stapleford. There is a large car park. 

A footpath around the top of the reservoir provides superb views not only to the reservoir itself, but to the surrounding fields. A walk around the reservoir and back to the car park is about one mile (a favourite for dog walkers). There are currently hundreds of gulls roosting but best viewed in the morning or late afternoon. The majority are Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed, but Herring, Common and Yellow-legged are often present. The gulls come and go, feeding on ploughed fields. Waterfowl includes Greylag and Canada Geese with Tufted Duck, Mallard, Wigeon, Pochard and Gadwall the commonly seen ducks. In winter up to 20 Little Grebes accompany over 100 Coot. Little Egret and Cormorant often drop in and there are always surprises..... perhaps a flock of Common Scoter,  a Kittiwake, an Iceland Gull, a Short-eared Owl ...... 

The reservoir water is topped up from the river, but only in the winter months. A dry summer creates a mud flat as the water level goes down, providing an ideal habitat for waders. I’ve recorded 136 species there so far and 21 of them were waders. The small island has allowed breeding success for Common Tern, Black-headed Gull, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe and Moorhen - but it is gradually being eroded away. The surrounding hedgerows are well worth exploring. Up to 10 warbler species in the spring and later on in the year, Stonechat and flocks of Yellowhammer, Linnets and Meadows Pipits. I haven’t even mentioned the Skylarks, Corn Buntings and more………."

Also check out Steve Cooper’s excellent 2020 Dernford Reservoir Report on the CBC webpage Lists and Facts (scroll to the bottom of the page) and the shortcut is this:



Friday 13 September: 7.30pm:  RAFOS Support to The Seabird Group on 4 years of The Seabird Census (2018-2022), with 2023 Avian Flu comparison data  by John Wells

Friday 11 October, 7.30pm:  Wildlife and Ranger Life on East Anglia’s two oldest nature reserves: Wicken Fen and Blakeney Point by Ajay Tegala

Ajay Tegala is a wildlife presenter, author and ranger. He has worked on East Anglia's two oldest nature reserves: first Blakeney Point on the North Norfolk Coast (the subject of Ajay's first book) and now Wicken Fen (the subject of his new book), which celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2024.

The talk looks at wildlife, Ranger-life and history at both of these iconic nature reserves. From the dramas of managing nesting seabirds and breeding seals to the complexities of protecting rare fenland and restoring land for nature.

Friday 8 November, 7.30pm:  WWT Waterscapes and The Fens by Jo Thomas  

Friday 13 December, 7.30pm:  Christmas Social