Meetings 2020

Regretfully, the Coronavirus situation means that our meetings and field trips are cancelled until further notice. We hope to reschedule some of them at a later time.

2020 meetings

All our indoor meetings open their doors at 7.30pm for an 8.00pm start. Meetings are held either at St John's Church Hall, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8RN, or in the Tony Cooper Suite at Cottenham Village College, High Street CB24 8UA . We have nine indoor meetings from September to May, and usually three field meetings in the summer months. Indoor meetings are held on the second Friday of the month. All are welcome to attend; there is a small charge for non-members. Our meetings secretary is Vicki Harley.

10th January: ‘The magic of Orkney’ by Duncan MacDonald

St John's Community Hall, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8RN. 7.30pm for 8pm start

14th February: Birdwatching through geological time by Daniel Field

St John's Community Hall, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8RN. 7.30pm for 8pm start

An asteroid impact 66 million years ago may have wiped out the giant dinosaurs, but it also resulted in the rapid diversification of birds. From that point onwards, avian evolutionary history was changed forever, eventually giving rise to nearly 11,000 living species. Dr Daniel Field explores the evidence for the early evolution of modern birds, and sheds light on how, when, and where modern bird diversity arose.

Daniel Field is a Lecturer in Evolutionary Palaeobiology in the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge University, and a Fellow of Christ's College. He also holds a UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship. Originally from Canada, Daniel obtained his PhD from Yale University, and his research focuses on using the fossil record to understand how modern bird diversity and biology came to be.

13th March: Annual General Meeting followed with ‘Birding in Yunnan’ by Jeff Blincow

St John's Community Hall, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8RN. 7.30pm for 8pm start

This talk highlights the superb birds seen on a trip to south-west China in the winter. Yunnan has a varied landscape with snow-capped mountains, lakes, deep gorges and rich sub-tropical forest in the south. At first, visiting in winter would appear an unusual idea, but the lowland forests along the Burmese border hold a strong resident avifauna and the region is the wintering ground for migrants from nearly all points of the compass. Many of the miss-placed eastern rarities that reach the UK shores in the autumn were headed for the forests of Yunnan to join the laughing-thrushes and pheasants that grace the remaining forests.

Jeff Blincow has enjoyed bird-watching all of his life. He worked as a teacher of Information Technology and has been lecturing on wildlife since 1980 on such topics as Ecuador, New Zealand, Australia and bird families. He has travelled widely and his focus on South America in the 1990s led him to be one of the founder committee members of the Neotropical Bird Club. He is now interested in all aspects of wildlife and recently became a member of the conservation team at Yardley Chase in Northamptonshire.

Cancelled (3rd April): ‘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.

Rebirding was written as the first book with actual solutions for how beautiful and profitable the UK’s countryside could one day look - as well as why the impending extinction of our cuckoos, turtle doves and honey-bees is entirely avoidable. Britain has all the space it needs for an epic wildlife recovery. So what’s stopping it from happening in our country – and how can we turn things around?

Ben Macdonald is a conservation writer, field director in wildlife television, and naturalist, passionate about restoring Britain's wildlife, pelicans very much included, in his lifetime. In television, he has worked on projects for the BBC, ITV, Netflix and Apple, including the Emmy-winning Our Planet series for Netflix, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Ben's first book has been nominated for the Richard Jefferies Nature Prize.

Cancelled (1st May): ‘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. Claudia conducted her PhD investigating social modulation of heart rate in greylag geese at the Konrad-Lorenz research station in Austria. After her PhD she broadened her expertise in the field of social cognition, investigating cognitive mechanisms underlying cooperation in carrion crows and ravens.

Summer outdoor meetings

Contact/booking via Erica Towner:

Field trips are evening events. The times shown are start times on site. Further details will be added later. They are emailed in advance of each meeting to participants who have been required to register if numbers are limited.

CANCELLED (22nd May): Nene Washes, 7.00pm

CANCELLED Friday, 10th July: Gamlingay Wood, 6.00pm

CANCELLED Friday, 14th August: Kingfishers Bridge,

CANCELLED: 11th September: ‘Curlews in crisis: reasons for their decline and hope for their conservation’ by Samantha Franks

Tony Cooper Suite, Cottenham Village College, CB24 8UA. 7.30pm for 8pm start

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. Her 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.

CANCELLED: 9th October: ‘Conservation trade-offs: reconciling food production, wildlife and ecosystem services’ by Tom Finch

Tony Cooper Suite, Cottenham Village College, CB24 8UA. 7.30pm for 8pm start

This talk will introduce the contentious ‘land sharing land sparing’ debate. I 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.

CANCELLED: 13th November: ‘Bermuda's birds: 400 species for 21 square miles’ by Andrew Dobson

St John's Community Hall, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8RN. 7.30pm for 8pm start

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.

By Zoom video conferencing: 11th December, Christmas Social

St John's Community Hall, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8RN. 7.30pm for 8pm start

Previous meetings

Meeting for 2011 -2019 can be viewed here.