2017 meetings

Friday 13th January, St Johns Hall, Cambridge

The Red List and the State of the World's Birds by Ian Burfield and Tris Allinson (Global Science Team, Birdlife International)

BirdLife International is the official authority for birds on the IUCN Red List, coordinating the process of evaluating the relative extinction risk of all of the world’s bird species. By detailing the threats to species and the responses required to save them, the Red List plays a major role in helping to inform the conservation action taken around the world by the BirdLife Partnership and many others. In this talk, Ian and Tris will describe the challenges of keeping the Red List updated, highlight the implications of the December 2016 update and present some of the many uses made of the data and assessments, including BirdLife’s own State of the World’s Birds.

Ian joined BirdLife in 2003 and spent a decade with the European Division, including coordinating Birds in Europe 2 and the European Red List of Birds, before becoming Global Science Coordinator (Programmes) in 2013.

Tris has played various roles in BirdLife’s Global Science and Information Management Teams since 2008, including producing multiple State of the World’s Birds publications, and is currently Senior Global Science Officer.

Friday 10th February, St Johns Hall, Cambridge

Looking for the Goshawk – the Lost Raptor by Conor Jameson

I wrote Looking for the Goshawk because I was seeking answers to questions, prompted by an unexpected encounter. I thought I knew this bird, but this incident with the Goshawk challenged me. My mind raced with questions.

Why was I so drawn to this animal?

Why has it been less celebrated by conservationists than other, no more nor less charismatic species?

Why do certain people love it, as I do, and others hate it?

How can such a large, dramatic species be so hard to find?

Why has its population growth apparently stalled for many years, with little or no comment made on this? Or could there be many more out there than we think?

How can the Goshawk inhabit city centres in some countries, when we have always told ourselves that it is a bird of remotest conifer forest in the British Isles and North America?

Above all, perhaps, why had no one written this book before?

I became fixated with these questions, and the idea that the Goshawk could and should be anywhere, at any time, in the environment around me. Why was I not seeing it? What does its presence or absence tell us about us?

I developed the sense that this is arguably the finest, best adapted, most versatile and rapacious bird we have; the apex, alpha predator of our landscapes… And we aren’t even missing it. This was once the bird they measured a man or a forest’s value by. Today, it has vanished from the cultural memory. I set out to try to change this.

This book is, in the end, a book about us. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to relay these stories, to address the above questions, and I hope I have done them - and above all this extraordinary bird whose life history is so wrapped up in our own – the justice they deserve.

Conor Mark Jameson has worked in conservation for 25 years, and is the author of Silent Spring Revisited, Looking for the Goshawk, and Shrewdunnit: The Nature Files. He now lives in north Cambs.

Friday 10th March, St Johns Hall, Cambridge

Annual General Meeting followed by

Pineapple Peril for Palearctic migrants & African forest species by Ann Scott

The story of an African reserve set up in memory of Bob Scott to help overcome some of the problems facing trans-Sahara migrant birds.

Bob Scott worked for the RSPB for many years and, after his retirement, was chairman of Cambridgeshire Bird Club from 1999 to 2004.

Friday 7th April, Cottenham Village College

Feathered Fiends? Reasons to love your neighbourhood gulls by Viola Ross-Smith

Viola Ross-Smith is Science Communications Manager at BTO, responsible for spreading the good word about the BTO's research through print publications, social media and as many other channels as possible. Before taking on this role in 2015, Viola worked on gulls for 10 years, starting during her PhD and continuing in her previous job at the BTO, as an ecologist. She is still involved in seabird tracking and research, and sits on the Executive Committee of the Seabird Group.

Friday 12th May, Cottenham Village College

Reclaiming South Georgia by Tony Martin

Two centuries ago, rats and mice were inadvertently introduced to the UK overseas territory of South Georgia by sealers and then whalers. Over time, these unwelcome guests ate their way through most of the island's wildlife, reducing the bird population by more than 90%. They threatened the extinction of an endemic bird and fundamentally changing the entire ecosystem of this globally important sub-Antarctic wildlife refuge. Tony Martin led a 6-year project to eradicate these invaders on behalf of the South Georgia Heritage Trust, using 3 helicopters, 300 tonnes of bait, £8m and a team of 40 people. This talk will explore what was involved in carrying out the world's largest rodent eradication project on a remote, glacier-encrusted island, the very encouraging results so far, and what lies ahead before South Georgia can finally be declared rodent free.

Tony Martin is Professor of Animal Conservation at the University of Dundee, and currently under secondment to the South Georgia Heritage Trust as Director of the South Georgia Habitat Restoration Project. He was previously a researcher at the Sea Mammal Research Unit and then the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge for 30 years, working on cetaceans and other aquatic vertebrates, especially in polar regions and the Amazon. At home in Cambridgeshire, Tony's garden has grown alarmingly, now hosting breeding avocets, harriers, kingfishers and sand martins.

Friday June 9th, 6pm

Your chance to visit May Farm Littleport, courtesy of Steve Mumford, Biodiversity officer on site. Please book with Louise Bacon for this evening visit which will be a walk to admire the site, followed by a talk with hot drink afterwards.

Friday July 14th, 6:30pm

Great Fen project. Meet at the 'Last of the Meres trail' parking on the B660. A walk to see some of the areas coming into the Great Fen project, returning arable land to wetland habitats.

Friday August 11th, time T.B.C.

Cavenham Heath. Booking essential. Site Manager for Natural England, Mike Taylor, will lead a walk around the heath, hopefully with a chance to see the post- breeding Stone Curlew aggregation which often occurs at that time of year.

Friday 8th September, Cottenham Village College

Research on the Pied Flycatcher by Malcolm Burgess

Friday 13th October, Cottenham Village College

Giving Wildlife the Edge on Fenland’ drains by Cliff Carson

After managing the RSPB and The Wildlife Trust Ouse Washes Reserves from 1975 for 30 years, Cliff Carson moved to the join the Middle Level Commissioners in 2005. In his role as Environmental Officer for this large Fenland drainage authority, he works to enhance the rivers and drains of the Middle Level system for biodiversity.

His particular interest is in adapting or creating man-made structures to provide sites for wildlife. Over the last decade otters have benefited from a network of 80 holts constructed in the otherwise bare banks of fenland drains. Kingfishers have been provided with secure nest sites behind holes drilled for them through steel piles and brick headwalls at 90 pumping station and bridge sites. Water voles and pollinating insects benefit from soft engineering coir roll revetments, pre-established with native riparian plants. Over 90 barn owl boxes and 100 bat boxes installed in Drainage Board Districts now offer breeding sites to both species.

As a close second to practical conservation projects, Cliff enjoys photographing wildlife and communicating the importance of its conservation

Friday 10th November, St Johns Hall, Cambridge

Cuckoos: an African perspective by Claire Spottiswoode

Claire joined the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, in 2002 as a PhD student (supervised by Professor Nick Davies), coming from the University of Cape Town in her home country of South Africa. She has stayed on ever since supported by a series of research fellowships from Sidney Sussex College, The Royal Society, and currently the BBSRC, and is a Senior Research Fellow at Magdalene College. From mid-2016 she has been splitting her time between the Department of Zoology and the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology in Cape Town.

Friday 8th 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.