News archive

March 2016

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Thursday 14th April. 'Hen harriers and grouse shooting', by Dr Mark Avery.

Thursday 14th April. 'Hen harriers and grouse shooting', by Dr Mark Avery.

Hen harriers are probably the most heavily persecuted birds in the UK. In England, they are, for all practical purposes, extinct as breeding birds. In Wales, Scotland and Ireland their numbers are way below what might reasonably be expected. The reason? They eat red grouse. Red grouse that a few people will pay a lot of money to shoot. Despite having the strongest legal protection, hen harriers are shot, trapped and poisoned by gamekeepers on grouse moors.

So far this distillation of the hen harriers' situation, culled, if you will excuse the expression, from Mark Avery's book, 'Inglorious, Conflict in the Uplands', is uncontroversial. Even shooting organizations have to accept that persecution occurs, although insisting it is carried out by 'a few bad apples'. What is controversial is Mark's solution to the problem; a complete ban of driven grouse shooting.

Mark is a scientist by training and a naturalist by inclination. He worked for the RSPB for 25 years and was its Conservation Director for nearly 13 years. In 2011 he stood down to go freelance and now writes and comments on environmental issues. He has been described as the 'best blogger in the business'. Expect passion and huge knowledge when he speaks to us about the campaign to ban driven grouse shooting. He will also describe the other negative effects of intensive management of upland areas for grouse shooting, including its effect on water quality, flooding and peat degradation.

Venue: St Columba's Church Hall, Pont Street, Knightsbridge SW1X 0BD

The talk starts at 6.45pm

RSPB members £4 Non-members £5 Under 16s free

Everyone welcome No need to book

Tea, coffee & biscuits available before the talk Doors open 6.15 pm

How to find us: Easy to get to (near Harrods)

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

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

Parking: some around the church (free after 18.30h); we are outside the congestion charge zone.

For Mark's blog go to:

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Saturday 9th April, Day trip to Oare Marshes. Nature Reserve, North Kent.

Saturday 9th April, Day trip to Oare Marshes. Nature Reserve, North Kent.

Of international importance for migratory, overwintering and breeding wetland birds, the reserve consists of grazing marsh (one of a few left in Kent) with freshwater dykes, open water scrapes, reedbed, saltmarsh and seawall. Possible garganey, ruff, yellow wagtail, warblers, avocet, sand martin, bearded tit, kingfisher and marsh harrier. Good for passage migrants. Oare is good for close views of birds (esp. waders) & we usually see seals.

We will take the 09.07 am train from Victoria to Faversham (arrives Faversham 10.29am, but check again nearer the day as this line is notorious for engineering works!) from where we will take a local bus or shared taxis to Oare. No need to book. Bring lunch. Toilets at Faversham. Leader Andrew Peel. For reserve information see:

Monday, 7 March 2016

Tuesday 15th March, at the Chiswick Pier Trust . 'The Life of the Swift', a talk by Catherine Day of the RSPB Central London Local Group and Brenna Boyle of Wild Capital.

Tuesday 15th March, at the Chiswick Pier Trust . 'The Life of the Swift', a talk by Catherine Day of the RSPB Central London Local Group and Brenna Boyle of Wild Capital.

Did you know that swifts spend their whole lives on the wing, landing only to nest and rear their young; that they mate for life and return to the same nest site each year; and that they are the world's fastest bird in level flight? In the last decade, satellite tagging has revealed fundamental details of their astonishing migration and lifestyle that were previously totally unknown. Come and learn more about these fascinating birds, the new Chiswick Swift Project and how you can help these iconic summer visitors.

Venue: Chiswick Pier Trust, The Pier House, Corney Reach Way, London W4 2UG. 7pm for 7.30pm. Free to CPT Members. £3 to non-members. Refreshments will be available.

The Chiswick Swift Project is being organized by Catherine Day. She has been trying to raise awareness of the threats to swift nest sites in London and particularly in her own local area of Chiswick. If you live in the area there are a few simple things you can do to help. There are more details below.

In the next swift season, she'd like to gather much more information about where swifts are still nesting in Chiswick (W4) and other Thames-side places. Last summer, she identified four probable locations in Chiswick by noticing screaming parties as she went for her usual walks. Next summer, she needs help with surveying swift activity in more of Chiswick and neighbouring places.

If you live or work in W4 or not too far from the Thames from Hammersmith to Richmond (i.e. within about half a mile), please would you help?

This will not be onerous and will mean going out on a handful of nice summer evenings between early May and end of July and watching, noting down and counting local swift activity. In the spring, we shall have more information on when and how to do this and there will be record sheets to make it easy. This survey will supplement and be more narrowly targeted than the RSPB swift survey and will be essential information for a real, live Thames project. If you would like to help, or would like further information, please use the 'contact us' tab on this website to let us know.


Click download file for our poster with more information

Click the link for information about the talk:

Download file