Online talk – ONE OF THE WORLD’S BEST WILDLIFE DESTINATIONS? DEFINITELY
by Richard Bashford
Thursday 22 February 2024
This impressive talk detailed Richard’s incredible experience of joining Naturetrek’s cruise to the southern oceans – from Ushuaia, along the Beagle Channel towards the Falkland Islands, passing spectacular seabirds and cetaceans. After a few days exploring the Falklands, he sailed to one of the most beautiful places on earth – South Georgia – to walk among thousands of penguins and seals. His last few days were around the spectacular Antarctic peninsula getting up close to incredible richness of Antarctic wildlife. With many landings throughout, Richard described this as the trip of a lifetime.
Online talk – UK ISLANDS & WILDLIFE by Colin Butcher Thursday 14 December 2023
Colin & Pauline have been volunteering on small islands around the UK for over 25 years. This illustrated talk covered the natural history of a selection of these, usually uninhabited, sometimes difficult to access, islands around the UK. There is a wide range of habitats and wildlife, with many of the islands having important seabird colonies. In many cases, the visits were to undertake conservation and repair activities.
The images used in the talk were taken by Colin and Pauline while visiting these islands and wildlife reserves.
Online Talk – In Search of the Bermuda Petrel by Andrew Cleave MBE Thursday 16 November 2023
The Bermuda Petrel once had a population counted in millions but by the 1950s was thought to be extinct. In the 1960s a relict population of 16 – 17 pairs was discovered and now, through careful conservation work the population has grown to around 164 breeding pairs. This illustrated talk covered the hard work that helped bring this incredibly rare seabird back from the brink. Lots of Bermuda’s other exciting birds and wildlife were covered, along with a tour of the tiny British Overseas Territory’s fascinating landscape of reefs, pink sand beaches and chain of rocks and islands.
Online Talk – THE BIRDS OF MOROCCO FROM THE HIGH ATLAS SNOW TO THE SAHARA SANDS Tuesday 17 October 2023
John Buckingham presented a comprehensive look at the birds of southern Morocco. The journey took us from Marrakesh, across the High Atlas and eastwards via the Dades River to Erfoud, which lies on the edge of the Sahara and close to the Algerian border. Then back to the coast at Agadir and along the dramatic Souss Valley via the Anti-Atlas Mountains. We saw most of the desert specialities and enjoyed the northward migration of many familiar and not so familiar European birds.
John’s unusual technique of superimposing images of birds onto their typical habitat backgrounds was particularly effective and generated lots of positive feedback from attendees.
Online Talk – WILDLIFE WANDERINGS – WHERE EAST MEETS WEST
Thursday 14 September 2023
Richard Coomber took us on a wildlife voyage from Japan to Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands in the Russian Far East and across to the Aleutians and Alaska.
He became one of Ornitholidays’ principal leaders but has now retired after leading well over 200 tours that have taken him to all seven continents. He is a past winner of the “Dusk to Dawn” section of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
GROUP WALK – WALLASEA ISLAND
Saturday 22 April 2023
Keen birder and RSPB volunteer Ron Johnson guided a group of 8 around the reserve for over three hours. We saw a variety of species including several hares, lots of Mediterranean gulls and a few buzzards.
Thanks to Ron, we had a very enjoyable experience.
Despite a relatively low attendance, we held our AGM. However, we were unable to appoint a new treasurer to succeed Stuart Anderson. The local group committee is therefore incomplete until we fill this essential position. Does this role appeal to you? Contact Sue on 01245 471576 if you’re interested.
After the meeting, Steve Grimwade of Swallow Birding & Wildlife took us on a pictorial journey, showcasing the amazing and diverse wildlife that be found in the Scottish Highlands, the Isle of Mull and the Outer Hebrides.ONLINE TALK – BRITISH COLUMBIA: A TOUR OF VANCOUVER ISLAND
Thursday 23 March 2023
Mary Braddock presented a colourful talk about the birds, bears, whales and wolves that inhabit this beautiful corner of Canada. The talk ventured into the life of the threatened environment of temperate rain forest and the diversity that this amazing habitat provides.
Mary has been a volunteer for the RSPB for 29 years in differing roles, having been group leader at North West Surrey Local Group for 15 years and then working on Lowland Heath in Surrey and Hampshire. Now living in Somerset, Mary lives 10 minutes from West Sedgemoor RSPB Reserve.
Her Flickr page can be viewed at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nwsurreywildlife/
ONLINE TALK – FARNE ISLANDS
Thursday 16 February 2023
Olly Slessor from Speyside Wildlife presented this talk on the wonderful Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast. These iconic islands are internationally important for breeding seabirds. We heard about the lives of some truly incredible and endearing wildlife, from the cute and colourful puffin to the curious and charismatic grey seals. It is a group of islands well worth visiting and an experience that you will never forget.
ONLINE TALK – TURTLE DOVES
Thursday 19th January 2023
Mark Nowers is the RSPB’s Turtle Dove Conservation Adviser in Essex, working as part of Operation Turtle Dove, which is aiming to recover the UK population of this enigmatic species. His talk covered the work of the project, the research that has been undertaken to understand why Turtle Doves have declined and what action is being taken to redress this, both here and abroad.
ONLINE TALK – SWIFT CONSERVATION UPDATE
Wednesday 14 December 2022
There is now a considerable groundswell of activity directed at reversing the decline of swifts. Many local groups are engaged in putting up nest boxes, and the building industry is slowly rising to the challenge of playing its part. Dick Newell presented this talk which included some background information on swifts together with case studies of many successful interventions.
ONLINE TALK – THE ENGLISH LOVE AFFAIR WITH NATURE
Thursday 17 November 2022
Presented by Ian Alexander, this was a lively talk on the social history of our nation’s long, passionate love affair with nature, from art to gardening and geology, from the animal cruelty movement to conservation and birdwatching.
ONLINE TALK – RSPB FORSINARD FLOWS NATURE RESERVE
Wednesday 19 October 2022
Forsinard Flows is part of a vast expanse of blanket bog, sheltered straths and mountains known as the Flow Country, one of Scotland’s most important natural treasures, and the RSPB looks after more than 21,000 hectares of it.
Milly Revill-Hayward, Peatlands Engagement and Communications Officer, gave us an insight into this impressive reserve, from its purchase in 1995 to the present day. We received an introduction to the reserve, the habitats, the management and restoration work that the RSPB is doing and of course, the species that call it home.
ONLINE TALK – CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE WILDLIFE KIND
Thursday 15 September 2022
Ian Barthorpe, Visitor Experience Officer at RSPB Minsmere, presented a journey of discovery, meeting some of the amazing wildlife that he’s been lucky to see at really close range, from his garden to the tropics. We heard several stories behind these close encounters.
ONLINE TALK – RSPB TITCHWELL MARSH NATURE RESERVE
Wednesday 17 August 2022
Speaker Lizzie Bruce is the RSPB’s North West Norfolk Reserves warden. In this talk she will introduce us to the birds of RSPB Titchwell and how the reserve is managed for both wildlife and visitors.
Titchwell is renowned for its wading birds, wildfowl and geese. These gather in significant numbers from mid autumn onwards and with the arrival of migrant birds from Scandinavia and Northern Europe the fresh water lagoons are soon filled with a variety of resident species and visitors.
ONLINE TALK – THE RETURN OF THE RED KITE
Wednesday 6 July 2022
With help from conservationists, the Red Kite has returned from extinction in England and is now a familiar sight again. Keith Betton has studied them closely and tells us about their lifestyle and how they’re now thriving in our countryside.
WALK – BLUE HOUSE FARM (EWT)
Wednesday 15 June (Evening)
Fambridge Road, North Fambridge CM3 6GU (Grid ref TQ 856971)
Meet in the car park at 7.00pm. (The car park is small so car sharing is advised if possible).
Take the B1012 east from South Woodham Ferrers. After about 3 miles turn right (on a sharp left hand bend) to North Fambridge. Access to the reserve is via a track on the left, on a sharp right hand bend in Fambridge Road, about a third of a mile south of Fambridge station.
We are taking advantage of the light summer evenings to take a walk round Blue House Farm. This 600 acre farm is situated on the north bank of the River Crouch. Managed by EWT since 1998, it has both Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (SPA) status.
A permissive path passes around the farm giving access to the three bird hides, and links up with the sea wall footpath which can then be taken back to the farm entrance and car park creating a 2.5 mile (4km) circular route.
If we are lucky we may see the barn owls which breed at Blue House Farm, out hunting for small mammals to feed their hungry chicks. Many waders breed here including avocets, and we may also see marsh harriers.
The reserve has no facilities. Bring your own refreshments if wanted.
Contact 07752 433043 between 3 – 4.00pm if the weather gives cause for concern.
ONLINE TALK – LABOUR OF LOVE
Thursday 19 May 2022
Alan Murray FInstLM, Head of Volunteering & Employee Engagement, will present this talk which looks at volunteering with the RSPB from the obvious to the obscure; the expected to the unexpected. Why do more than 12,000 people each year give the RSPB a ‘gift of time’ of approx. 1 million hours? How do we make best use of that gift of time to Save Nature for future generations?
WALK – SHUT HEATH WOOD (EWT)
Sunday 15 May 2022
Location: Off Tiptree Road, Great Totham
Grid reference: TL853 133
Postcode: CM8 3ED
Meet in the car parking area (a farm track from the road) by the field in front of the wood at 10.30am. Access to the wood is via an easily missed farm track between hedges on the left of the road from Great Totham to Great Braxted (Tiptree Road). The immediate approach is shortly after a side road on the left (Braxted Road) joins the main road at an angle. Take great care when leaving as visibility is restricted.
Group walk of about 2 hours led by Janet and Richard Hawkes.
The reserve includes 23 acres of ancient woodland forming part of the Chantry Wood complex and we hope to see treecreepers, nuthatches, some birds of prey and warblers. If we’re very lucky, we may spot ravens, a tawny owl and all three native woodpeckers including lesser spotted.
Parts of the reserve can be boggy and muddy so walking boots may be advisable. The reserve has no toilets. Bring your own refreshments if wanted.
Contact Janet & Richard the previous evening (6-9pm) or on the morning of 15 May (7.30 – 9am) if the weather gives cause for concern.
Telephone: 07718 705752