2014 meetings

Friday 10th January, St Johns Hall, Cambridge

Turtle Doves, Trial Plots and Trichomonas by Jenny Dunn

The Turtle Dove is ecologically unique in the UK, being the country's only migrant bird to be wholly reliant upon seeds for feeding both adults and nestlings. Since the 1960s, the species has switched diet from weed seeds to cereals, and breeding effort has declined from 4 to 1–2 broods per year. UK Turtle Doves have declined by 93% since 1970, paralleled by a 73% decline across Europe making this one of the most rapidly declining bird species in Europe. Research to help conserve the species includes trialling seed-rich patches to provide seed food in early summer, and screening UK doves and pigeons for diseases to determine whether disease may influence productivity. Jenny Dunn is a conservation scientist with the RSPB, working on farmland bird conservation and visiting research fellow at the University of Leeds.

Friday 14th February, St Johns Hall, Cambridge

Swans and Swan-upping by Chris Perrins

Chris Perrins was Director of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology in Oxford until his retirement. His main areas of interest have been the long-term study of tit populations in Wytham Woods, seabirds and Mute Swans. His studies of the latter have centred on the Thames and the birds in the breeding colony at Abbotsbury, Dorset. He co-authored a book on the Mute Swan and is The Queen's Swan Warden. His talk will range from the history of swan-upping to more recent studies of the Thames population.

Friday 14th March, St Johns Hall, Cambridge

Annual General Meeting followed by

The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe by Dougal Russell

Senior Curator, Birds’ Eggs and Nests, Bird Group, The Natural History Museum.

“I think that, if required, on pain of death, to name instantly the most perfect thing in the universe, I should risk my fate on a bird's egg” Higginson, T. W.(1862) The Life of Birds. The Atlantic Monthly 10(59):368-369.

Containing over 200,000 sets and representing over 52% of world bird species, the avian egg collection at the Natural History Museum (NHM) is one the most important global research resources of its kind. The collection is regularly used by scientific researchers from across the globe studying a diverse range of topics, including species identification, allometry, phylogenetics, environmental change, crypsis, mimicry & brood parasitism.

Douglas G. D. Russell is the Senior Curator responsible for the NHM egg and nest collections and this is a rare opportunity to learn more about the national collection of birds’ eggs, its history and the key research that goes on behind the scenes within the national collections at Tring.

Friday 11th April, Cottenham Village College

Thirty Years of Bird Photography by Tim Loseby

Tim Loseby has been birdwatching for over 50 years. The first 'exotic' place he went to was Minsmere in 1964! He has been a photographer for 30 years, and became a familiar face on the birding scene in the 1980s as a photographer of rarities. He is a founder member of the Oriental Bird Club and has travelled extensively in Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia and Middle East. He is Director of Fair Isle Bird Observatory a place he first visited in 1970. He comes from Yorkshire originally but, following 35 years in Kent, now lives in north Norfolk.

Friday 9th May, Cottenham Village College

The Lodge – Past and Future by Peter Bradley

This talk is about The Lodge – its history, how the RSPB became involved in the site, what has been done to re-create the largest area of heathland in Bedfordshire, and plans for the future. Peter Bradley has worked for The RSPB since 1990, at sites including Nagshead, Fore Wood, Rye House Marshes, Mid Yare, Titchwell (warden 1997–2000), Rye Meads (site manager 2000–2004), The Lodge (from 2004). He is now Senior Sites manager for Beds & Herts, managing The Lodge and overseeing Fowlmere and Rye Meads.

Outdoor Meetings

Friday June 13th, (7:30pm)

Godmanchester Nature Reserve

Meet at 7 pm for a guided walk with Amy Robinson.

This beautiful nature reserve consists of four lakes (former gravel pits), interspersed with grassland and ancient hedgerows, and forms a part of the Ouse Valley Living Landscape – a priority area for the Wildlife Trust’s conservation work. The reserve is on the route of the proposed Godmanchester to Hartford road, so come and see why the Trust is so keen to save the reserve. Amy Robinson is the Wildlife Trust Ouse Valley education and community officer.

For information on the reserve, see: http://www.wildlifebcn.org/reserves/godmanchester

Places are limited so please book by contacting Vicki Harley.

Friday 11th July, (7:30pm)

RSPB Grange (Hope) Farm, Knapwell

Meet at 7 pm for a guided walk with Ian Dillon.

In 1999 the RSPB bought Hope Farm, a conventional arable farm with the aim to develop farming techniques that produce food cost-effectively and benefit wildlife at the same time. By 2010, farmland bird numbers had more than doubled.

For information on Hope Farm, see: http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/projects/details/255987-hope-farm

Places are limited so please book by contacting Vicki Harley.

Friday 8th August (7:00pm)

To be arranged

Friday 12th September, Cottenham Village College

Facing Extinction: the World's Rarest Birds and the Race to Save Them by Paul Donald

Dr Paul Donald is Principal Conservation Scientist in the RSPB's international research team and is the Editor-in-Chief of the international ornithological journal Ibis. Among his many research interests is the conservation ecology of critically endangered species, and he is the lead author of a recent book on the subject. In this talk he will discuss the causes of rarity in birds and will outline the measures that are being used to prevent their extinction.

Friday 10th October, Cottenham Village College

Northumberland through the Seasons by Martin Kitching

With wintering wildfowl and waders, including Pale-bellied Brent Geese from Svalbard, Bar-tailed Godwit, Purple Sandpiper and Long-tailed Duck in iconic landscapes, Black Grouse, Golden Plover, Ring Ouzel and other moorland specialities in the spring, internationally important seabird colonies, including Arctic, Sandwich, Common, Little and Roseate Terns during the summer and the magic of the North Sea's shearwater, skuas, whales and dolphins and some prime east coast migration in the autumn, with everything from vast forests to wide open moorland to rolling sand dunes and hidden precipitous valleys Northumberland is the perfect destination for the birdwatcher who just wants to get away from it all.

Martin Kitching is the Senior Guide and photography tutor at Northern Experience Wildlife Tours. Martin has over 40 years of birdwatching experience, and 17 years of organising offshore pelagic trips in the North Sea and is also the North East Regional Officer for the marine conservation charity MARINElife

Friday 14th November, St Johns Hall, Cambridge

Birdwatching in the Caucasus by Paul French

Georgia is one of the most mysterious, unique and scenic countries in the Western Palearctic and contains some of its most sought after and rarely seen birds. From incomparable mountain birding in the Greater Caucasus to one of the largest raptor migration spectacles in the World, Georgia is a land that every European birder should visit at least once.

Paul French started life working short term contracts around the length and breadth of Britain, including two years as assistant warden at Fair Isle Bird Observatory, three seasons on Shetland working for the RSPB studying seabirds and breeding waders, and a winter in deepest Cornwall producing an atlas of the county’s Barn Owls. After a further six years working for the RSPB as a warden and then habitat restoration advisor, he branched out and became a freelance ornithologist. Travel has always been a big part of Paul’s life, and he has birded extensively in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and East Asia. Paul is now a leader for Sunbird and serves on the British Birds Rarities Committee. A position that call for almost as much diplomacy as identification knowledge!

Friday 12th December, St Johns Hall, Cambridge

Christmas Social

Come and enjoy mince pies and mulled wine in good company while listening to inspiring short talks by club me