News archive

January 2019

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

October to December News 2018

October to December News 2018

Our indoor meetings in the year's final quarter have featured some very varied topics. In October Paul Wyer provided us with a fascinating glimpse into the lives of two of our favourite mammals, the hedgehog and the water vole. In November we were very fortunate to welcome Professor Nick Davies, arguably the world's leading expert on the cuckoo. Nick's research is helping to unravel the mysteries surrounding how the cuckoo chooses its 'victims', how the cuckoo chick convinces its foster parents to continue feeding it and how the host birds are fighting back in a constant battle to avoid being parasitized. He also focused on how the use of tracking devices has enabled us to follow cuckoo migration pathways - absolutely fascinating stuff. In December Paul Roper entertained us with a talk about gulls and, in particular, how recoveries of gulls that have been ringed by his and other ringing groups have led to a greater understanding of gull migration.

Our coach trip in October took us to Dungeness, where we spent most of our time at the RSPB reserve before heading down to Dungeness Village and 'The Patch'. We were lucky to see no fewer than 7 cattle egrets amongst the 82 bird species seen on the day. Also seen were great white egret, yellow-legged and Mediterranean gulls and ring ouzel. Several species of butterfly and dragonfly were still on the wing. In November we went in the opposite direction, up the A1 to RSPB Old Moor reserve. As for the Dungeness trip, over 50 participants from our Local Group and Stevenage Local Group travelled and all had a most enjoyable time, with 69 bird species (including bearded tit, peregrine and common sandpiper) being seen. Finally, in December, an own transport trip took us to three Lee Valley reserves, Fishers Green, RSPB Rye Meads and Great Amwell. We enjoyed good views of water rail at Fishers Green, green sandpiper at Rye Meads and shelduck (a Hertfordshire rarity) at Amwell. A year list, compiled of all the birds seen on all of our 2018 field trips, reached 153 species.