News archive

August 2015

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Coach trip to Cley Marshes, Saturday 19th September.

Coach trip to Cley Marshes, Saturday 19th September.

Our next coach trip takes us to the almost legendary Cley. NWT Cley Marshes is Norfolk Wildlife Trust's oldest and best known nature reserve. This is our first trip to the reserve since it was badly damaged by the storm surge in December 2013. Habitats have been restored and infrastructure rebuilt and the reserve is back in business.

Cley was purchased in 1926 to be held 'in perpetuity as a bird breeding sanctuary'. It provided a blue print for nature conservation which has now been replicated across the UK. The water levels in the pools and reedbeds are regulated to ensure they are ideal for the resident birds, and reed is harvested every year to keep the reedbeds in good condition.

The shingle beach and saline lagoons, along with the grazing marsh and reedbed support large numbers of wintering and migrating wildfowl and waders, as well as bittern, marsh harrier and bearded tit. The reserve is also an important stop for summer migrant species that have finished their breeding season and are now heading for southern Europe and beyond. There are also good opportunities for seawatching for species not usually seen ashore.

A new eco-friendly visitor centre opened in 2007 containing a café, shop, viewing areas (including viewing from a camera on the reserve). Norfolk Wildlife Trust have since added to this with the fantastic Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre, a courtyard and viewing deck. The view from the visitor centre across the Marsh to the sea is breathtaking.

Booking is essential, either by post using the booking form mailed to members with the programme, or by Paypal to For information contact Derik Palmer on 07768 121 435.

For reserve information go to:

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Evening Meeting, Thursday 10th September

Evening Meeting, Thursday 10th September

'State of nature and alternative approaches to wildlife conservation' by Martin Harper, Conservation Director of the RSPB. 'The State of Nature' report was produced in 2013 by a new partnership of 25 organisations involved in researching, recording and conserving nature. Coming to us straight from the House of Commons, Martin will discuss how this document, the first of its kind to review the status and population trends of animals and plants in the UK and its overseas territories, is influencing new thinking and schemes to incorporate nature conservation into the wider landscape.

The State of Nature Report can be downloaded from the RSPB website. Enter 'State of Nature Report' in the search box.

Nature is amazing yet it is in crisis: half the world's vertebrates have declined in the past four decades, there are 421 million fewer birds in Europe today than there were 30 years ago and 60% of UK species have declined since 1970. Martin Harper will explain what the RSPB is doing with others to try to address this crisis through science, practical conservation, influencing decision-makers and helping people live in harmony with nature.

Martin Harper describes himself thus: 'My passion for wildlife was stimulated in my teenage years, mainly thanks to my Mum (a biology teacher) who made me look at the world differently and being inspired by writers such as Paul Colinvaux. This early interest developed into biological research in my 20s, when I did practical conservation work in places such as the Comores and Mongolia. Today, any free time I have I spend pottering around the flatlands of East Anglia or escaping to our hut on the Northumberland coast looking for wildlife and castles with my wife and children. I studied Biological Sciences at Oxford and Conservation at UCL, and worked at Wildlife and Countryside Link before spending five years as Conservation Director at Plantlife. I joined the RSPB as Head of Government Affairs in 2004, became Head of Sustainable Development in 2006, before becoming Conservation Director in 2011'.

Venue: St. Columba's Church Hall, Pont St. London SW1. Entry fee: £4.00 RSPB members, £5.00 non-members. Doors open 6.15 pm and tea and biscuits will be available as usual before the talk.

How to find us:
St Columba's Church Hall is the big, white stone Scottish church on the corner of Pont St and Lennox Gardens SW1, 3-4 minutes' walk from the back of Harrods.

Tube: Knightsbridge (Piccadilly Line) 5-8 mins' walk; Sloane Square (District & Circle Lines) 15 mins.

Bus: 9, 10, 52 (Knightsbridge); 14, 74, 414, C1 (Brompton Rd, passing western end of Pont St); 19, 22, 137, 452, C1 (Sloane St, passing eastern end of Pont St).

Martin Harper's blog can be found at:

Monday, 3 August 2015

What is the UK's favourite insect?

What is the UK's favourite insect?

Insects are vital for human life on earth but are often overlooked. There are over 20,000 insect species found in the UK, but which is your favourite? The Royal Society of Biology came up with a list of 10 of their favourite species and now wants to know what the rest of the UK thinks.

The short list comprises the seven-spot ladybird, the garden tiger moth, the small tortoiseshell butterfly, the black garden ant, the buff-tailed bumblebee, the large bee-fly, the marmalade hoverfly, the green shieldbug, the stag beetle, and the emperor dragonfly.

There is a serious point to this. The Society wants to highlight the vital role that insects play in the environment and the many threats that they face from pesticide use, habitat destruction and climate change.
You can find more information on the finalists and cast your vote at: