2015 meetings

Friday 9th January, St Johns Hall, Cambridge

Stray Feathers and Tall Tales – behind the scenes at the BBRC by Adam Rowlands

Friday 13th February, St Johns Hall, Cambridge

Tales of the Unexpected - new insights from tracking our Afro-Palaearctic migrants by Chris Hewson

Populations of many of our Afro-Palaeartic migrants , especially those that winter in the humid tropics of West and Central Africa, are currently in steep decline, whereas 30–40 years ago it was those wintering further north in the arid zone south of the Sahara that were struggling. The reasons for this remain unclear, partly because we lack a thorough understanding of what many of these birds do during the majority of the year when they are not in the UK. The BTO has developed a tracking programme to help learn about the annual cycle of these birds. This has greatly increased our understanding of their migration routes, stopover sites and wintering areas and has revealed some surprising and unforeseen results. This talk will outline some of the key findings from this work and will also describe ways in which the results are beginning to help us understand why these birds might be declining.

Chris Hewson is a Senior Research Ecologist at the BTO, where he leads on projects relating to the migration strategies, habitat use and population dynamics of Afro-Palaeartic migrants, including the well-known project tracking Common Cuckoos with satellite tags. Earlier in his BTO career he was mostly involved in projects on woodland birds, during which the current issues specific to Afro-Palaearctic wintering in the humid zone of West and Central Africa were identified. Before his time at the BTO, Chris undertook a PhD on woodland birds at the Zoology Department at Cambridge University, and previously spent as season as an Assistant Warden at Fair Isle Bird Observatory.

Friday 13th March, St Johns Hall, Cambridge

Annual General Meeting followed by

Guyana – South America's hidden gem by Chris Collins

Bordered by Venezuela and Brazil, this small South American country is rarely visited by birdwatchers, despite having many special birds to see. Chris has have been lucky enough to spend several months there and in his lecture we will visit many of the habitats which make Guyana such a unique destination. In the tropical forests there are hundreds of species including antbirds, toucans, macaws as well as the majestic Harpy Eagle, whilst out on the savannahs, it is possible to find Giant Anteaters and the highly endangered Sun Parakeet.

Chris Collins is a freelance ornithologist and for the last 10 years he has been working on a wide range of bird and wildlife related projects around the world. Most of his work involves guiding groups of birders and wildlife enthusiasts to destinations as diverse as the Russian Far East, Antarctica, South America and Pacific Ocean. He has pent the equivalent of over three years working on expedition ships and has seen almost 90% of the world’s seabirds and a total of well over 5,000 bird species. In addition to tour guiding, he regularly give lectures to groups in the UK and overseas and also work on consultancy projects offering advice to governments and agencies on growing a location as a birding destination. many of you will recall his previous visit to CBC when he talked about birds of the Russian Far East.

For more information on Guyana see http://www.neotropicalbirdclub.org/neobird/neobird2-collins.pdf

Friday 10th April, Cottenham Village College

Ancient Egypt – wildlife art detective by Jackie Garner

Egyptian art has some of the most beautifully restrained (and some of the most outrageously flamboyant) images known to man. This presentation looks at the portrayal of wildlife in ancient Egypt and investigates the tools, pigments and methods employed by Egyptian artists.

Wildlife artist, Jackie Garner has been painting wildlife and the natural world for over 30 years. She originally at the Medway College of Design, before becoming the part-time education officer at Gloucestershire's Nature in Art. She says that “That role allowed me to indulge my love of wildlife art, and I was inspired - and taught - by some of the great British wildlife artists - Robert Gillmor, Peter Partington, Bruce Pearson, Greg Poole... Before I knew it my metamorphosis from a "naturalist interested in art" to an ‘artist interested in nature’ was complete.

Friday 8th May, Cottenham Village College

Shrinking Habitats, Declining Butterflies and Climate Change by Nick Greatorex Davies

In this talk Nick will seek to highlight the plight of many of our butterflies and the factors responsible for their decline in Britain. He will cover some of the conservation work that is being done in Britain to try and halt these declines and also the range expansion of a number of species that is taking place, apparently in response to climate change. He wil also highlight some of the global environmental problems that effect many other parts of the world, not least of which is the world’s ever increasing human population.

Nick Greatorex Davies `worked as a professional entomologist, specialising mainly in Lepidoptera, at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks Wood (formerly ITE Monks Wood), from 1974 until the site was closed in January 2009. For 12 years (from 1995) he was co-ordinator of the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, during which time he was based in the Biological Records Centre at Monks Wood. In 2003 he started leading butterfly (and moth) tours to Bulgaria for two weeks each summer. Since taking early retirement in 2009 he has been leading two or three of these tours to Bulgaria each year. He is a member of Butterfly Conservation and currently serves on the committee of its European Interest Group which seeks to help in survey and conservation work on butterflies through partners in countries throughout Europe (outside the UK).

Outdoor Meetings

Friday June 12th, (7:30pm)

Greys Farm, Therfield, near Royston.

Edward Darling is a passionate and practical farmer-cum-conservationist, and will show us the many measures he has put in place on his farm to improve bird numbers, particularly of red-listed species such as Grey Partridge, Lapwing, Yellow Wagtail and Corn Bunting. Booking is not essential but helps ensure we don't start the tour without you; contact Vince Lea. To find Greys, take the A505 to the Western end of the Royston bypass, and then take the Therfield and Royston turn off the dual carriageway at the roundabout. This road turns left, and then very soon on the right there is a turn to Therfield - you will see a carpark for the heath ahead of you, but continue up the hill - Greys is near the rise of the hill on the left, on a marked turning in the trees (TL337395).

Friday 10th July, (6:30pm)

Ouse Fen

Meet at the public car park at Earith Bridge on A1123 by the New Bedford River, just west of the junction with the B1050 from Willingham, TL393748. A guided walk with the warden Barry O’Dowd; limited to about 12 people so please contact Vince or Louise to book.

Friday 14th August (7:00pm)

To be arranged, but likely to be to Woodwalton Fen. Please contact Louise for further details and to book.

Friday 11th September, Cottenham Village College

Ornithology to Ethno-ornithology – a life journey by Andy Gosler

Why are we ornithologists? Because we are fascinated by birds, yes, but why are humans so captivated by the ecology, evolution and behaviour of another vertebrate group that a UK Government Chief Scientist should complain that a disproportionate amount was spent on bird research to the detriment of other taxa? Whatever the answer to this, the fact that humans everywhere are enthralled by birds should point the way to how we might engage, re-engage or differently-engage people in all countries with nature, and so focus resources most effectively for its conservation. Ethno-ornithology is the study of human relationships and associations with birds, be they benign or harmful for the birds themselves. This talk expands on these issues and describes how the speaker’s own lifelong engagement with birds led to an interest in the very issue of human interest in birds itself.

Dr Andrew Gosler is University Research Lecturer in Ornithology and Conservation at Oxford University, where he holds a joint position between the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology and the Institute of Human Sciences. His research interests span bird ecology and evolution, through ethno-ornithology to conservation. He is a former Editor of Ibis, a recipient of medals from the BTO and BOU and is the originator and Director of EWA: the Ethno-ornithology World Archive.

Friday 9th October, Cottenham Village College

‘The Lady of the Reeds’ – the rediscovery of pioneering bird photographer Emma Turner by James Parry

James is a writer and editor of books on art, history and wildlife and is researching the life and work of Emma Turner, the pioneering bird photographer. Turner developed her craft in the Norfolk Broads, where in 1911 she helped rediscover the bittern as a British breeding bird and took the earliest known images of species such as water rail and bearded tit at the nest. She became one of Britain's leading women ornithologists and was a vice-president of the Cambridge Bird Club. After decades of obscurity following her death in 1940, the recent discovery of some of her diaries and an archive containing original Turner images and correspondence has shed new light on her remarkable achievements.

Friday 13th November, St Johns Hall, Cambridge

Cuckoo – cheating by nature by Nick Davies

Nick Davies says his academic career has been an excuse to do lots of bird watching. He is Professor of Behavioural Ecology at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of the Royal Society. His cuckoo research has been featured as two BBC Radio 4 broadcasts and as a BBC Natural World Film, produced by Mike Birkhead and narrated by David Attenborough. His most recent book ‘Cuckoo - Cheating by Nature’ is published this spring by Bloomsbury. His talk will show how cuckoos across the world have evolved remarkable tricks to deceive and manipulate their hosts, and how field experiments are now uncovering a continuing evolutionary arms race as hosts evolve new defences and cuckoo, in turn, evolve novel trickery.

Friday 11th 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 members.