News archive

March 2018

Thursday, 8 March 2018

The Selborne Society: Pioneers in Conservation

The Selborne Society: Pioneers in Conservation

Gilbert White, the author of 'The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne', published in 1789, was one of the greatest English naturalists. Our talk this month will be given by Andy Pedley from the Selborne Society. He will describe the society, its history, its link with Gilbert White and its role today. Andy is one of the leading volunteers of today's Selborne Society. We shall, of course, hear something of the life of Gilbert White, a modest Hampshire curate who recorded his observations of his gardening activities is his 'Garden Calendar' between 1751 and 1767, and then began his 'Naturalist's Journal' in 1768 which he continued until shortly before he died in 1793. He recorded his observations of everything natural that he saw around him, often in great detail and with such accuracy that he discovered and named the harvest mouse, the noctule bat, lesser whitethroat, chiffchaff, willow warbler and wood warbler as separate species. His work is of lasting importance and appeal and led to him becoming known as the father of British naturalists.

The Selborne Society was the first conservation organisation in the world and owns one of the first ever nature reserves, Perivale Wood in West London. Founded in 1902 as the Brent Valley Bird Sanctuary, this beautiful, tranquil reserve is dedicated as the Gilbert White Memorial. It is run entirely by the society's volunteers to preserve and enhance its special conservation value and is only open for the public to visit on certain days each year.

If you enjoy this talk, you may be interested in joining us for the private guided walk to Perivale Wood that we have arranged with the Selborne Society for 15th April - a date which should see the wood's bluebells in full bloom.


Doors open 6.15 pm. Tea, coffee & biscuits available before the talk. Talk starts at 6.45pm.

Admission: Everyone welcome.
No need to book - simply pay on the door. Non-members £5; RSPB & RSPB Central London Local Group members £4; students (NUS) & under-18s free.

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

Tube: Knightsbridge (Piccadilly Line) 4 mins' walk; Sloane Sq (District & Circle Lines) 15 mins.

Bus: 9, 10, 52 (Knightsbridge); 14, 74, 414, C1 (Brompton Rd); 19, 22, 137, 452, C1 (Sloane St).

Parking: some around the church: free after 18:30h. (We are outside the congestion zone.)

Monday, 5 March 2018

Short report and bird list for our day trip to River Lee Country Park, 03.03 18.

Short report and bird list for our day trip to River Lee Country Park, 03.03 18.

By Saturday morning the 'Beast from the East' had retreated sufficiently to allow 10 hardy souls to make it to Cheshunt Station. Temperatures were (just) above freezing, the sky overcast and it was somewhat misty. The lakes were still frozen, and there was snow on the ground. Birding got off to a good start, as there was a little strip of open water on the far side of Friday Lake where a redhead smew was confined with a few other ducks and a great crested grebe.

Hall Marsh Scrape was frozen solid, and as one of our number put it, 'uncontaminated by birds', but we had excellent views of mistle thrush and fieldfare in the grass from the Snipe Hide. We also saw a treecreeper, wrens and goldcrests in the trees nearby. A large flock of redwings were in the trees by the flood relief channel. A kingfisher flashed past as we approached Seventy Acres Lake.

At the Bittern Information Point we were told that the bittern had not been seen for a few weeks, but a water rail was feeding under the bird feeder right in front of the hide, making it almost too easy to see. After lunch we headed up to Holyfield Lake, spotting large flocks of fieldfare on the way. The water was open around the weir; this seemed to be where a large number of water birds had congregated.

There were at least a dozen goosanders, some dunlin feeding at the base of the weir, plus wigeon and other duck species that had been missing elsewhere. As we headed back along the Old River Lee, we could see a large flock of small birds wheeling over the meadow. We caught up with them perched in the trees near the electricity substation. They were a mix of chaffinches and linnets; a hundred or more in all.

By the end of the day we had a list of 48 species, which you can download as a PDF by clicking the link below.

Download file

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Day trip to the River Lee Country Park.

Day trip to the River Lee Country Park.

The River Lee Country Park covers an extensive area of wild habitat not far to the north of London and is a regular destination for our Group. There are hides from where we can expect to see a good selection of wildfowl, hopefully including smew, goldeneye and goosander, maybe some waders, and perhaps kingfisher, siskin, redpoll, goldcrest, water rail and winter thrushes. There is a chance of seeing wintering bittern for which the Park has become well-known. The full walk is about 6 miles, but participants may take a shorter route of about 4 miles.

Bring lunch as there is no café, however there are toilets. No need to book, just turn up. Leader Graeme Hutchinson. No entry fee.

Meeting Point: Meet at 10.00am at Cheshunt Station (National Rail from Liverpool Street and Seven Sisters. Please note that due to engineering works, trains to Cheshunt will not call at Tottenham Hale on this day, but will call instead at Seven Sisters. The 09.13 from Liverpool Street will call at Seven Sisters at 09.27 and arrive at Cheshunt at 09.40. Please check nearer the time. Cheshunt is also on TFL Overground, zone 8).

For reserve information see: