Indoor programme

Meetings take place on the first and third Tuesday of each month (between October & March) at Pangbourne Village Hall from 19:45. All visitors are welcome at both our indoor meetings* and field excursions. If you wish to become a member click here.

* There is a £3 charge for non-members at indoor meetings

Winter 2016/2017

4th October                             Jan Haseler
Presidential Address:             The ghost of field trips past
This talk compares sightings on recent field trips with wildlife reports from members of the Society for the years 1880 – 1959 and tells how the Society’s publications have chronicled historic changes to our local countryside.


18th October                            Dr. Martin Bidartondo (Imperial College)
Heathlands underground

Joint meeting with BBOWT. Britain’s heathlands are of global significance for biodiversity conservation and are fascinating habitats to understand ecology. In the last few years we have gained new information on how trees invade heaths and how bryophytes aid heathers. Come to hear this popular speaker describe how the intimate links between fungi and plants shape our heathlands.

1st November                           Prof Alex Rodgers (Oxford Univ.)
Wonders, old threats and new dangers in the oceans

The deep-ocean ridges of the Southern and Indian Oceans host an amazing range of habitats including cold-water coral reefs, gardens and hot springs. So far only 0.0001% of this habitat has been explored.  Now it faces conflict not only with the deep sea fishing industry but also the prospect of mining on the ocean floor. How do we sustainably manage these issues?

15th November                         Irene Texidor Toneu (Reading Univ.)
Who took the roots away? Moroccan medicinal plants.

A wide range of plants in the High Atlas Mountains are harvested for medicinal use by the rural communities and sold in the souks. This talk will explore the medicinal plant diversity in Morocco and the factors that threaten the conservation of some important wild populations of medicinal plants.

6th  December                          Prof Mark Fellowes (Reading Univ.)
By accident and by design: how our decisions affect our garden birds.

Joint meeting with RSPB. Our gardens are home to an incredible diversity of wild life. Every day we collectively make decisions that determine what lives and what dies on our doorsteps. In this talk Prof Fellowes shares examples from his research of the consequences for garden birds from blackbirds to red kites.

20th December
Christmas Party and Photographic Competition


 3rd January                             Prof. Paul Hadley (Reading Univ.)
Safeguarding the future of chocolate

Prof. Hadley will talk about the history of cultivation of cocoa, the making of chocolate and the current problems facing the crop. Farmers need improved cocoa with higher productivity and greater resilience to unfavourable climatic conditions, combined with more sustainable farming practices. The speaker is Director of the Centre of Horticulture and he has been working on cocoa crop improvement for over 35 years.

17th January                             Prof. Helen Roy (C.E.H.)
Unravelling the story of an alien invader – the harlequin ladybird.

The harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis, was first recorded in the UK in 2004. What followed is a remarkable story of inspiring contributions from people across the country furthering our understanding of the ecology of this invasive non-native species.

 7th February                             Dr. Markus Wagner (C.E.H.)
Rare arable wildflowers and their preservation in the modern agricultural landscape.

Agriculture has changed markedly since the 1940s with profound effects on arable ecosystems. This talk will focus on research into formerly widespread but now rare arable plants. Bring your smartphone to this talk for an introduction to CEH’s new Rare Arable Flowers mobile phone app.

21st February                            Dr. Lucy Aplin (Oxford Univ.)
Cultured birds? Social networks and foraging traditions in great tits.

Do animals use their social networks to learn new behaviours? Can this be considered “cultural”? Building on the well-known “milk-bottle” innovation, our speaker has researched these questions in great tits at Wytham Woods in Oxfordshire. By using tracking technologies and wild experiments, Dr. Aplin has studied the process by which such innovations spread in populations.

 7th March                                  Dr. Timothy King (Oxford Univ.)
Ants, ant intelligence and ant-hills.
After reviewing ants, our speaker will describe how an ant’s body is equipped for efficient communication and how colonies are organized. The yellow meadow ant builds the familiar mounds in pastures. Dr. King will explain how it increases animal and plant diversity, drawing on his research at Aston Rowant NNR.

21st March                                  AGM and Members’ Evening

Previous seasons

Winter 2015/2016

6th October                                             Jan Haseler
Presidential Address:                          
The wildlife of the Streatley Hills
The National Trust land at Streatley has some of the best surviving chalk grassland in Berkshire, together with some interesting woodland. The talk describes the history and management of the site, as well as some of the plants, butterflies, other rare invertebrates, bats and birds which can be found there.

20th October                                         Carl Hunter Roach
A local view of Bird Ringing

Joint meeting with RSPB. This talk will give a brief history of bird ringing in Britain, with insights from local ringing into bird identification, migration & conservation efforts and how to qualify for a bird ringing licence. Carl has been ringing birds for thirty years.

3rd November                                       Dr. Richard Comont (Data Monitoring Officer, Bumblebee conservation trust).
The plight of the bumblebee.

Joint meeting with BBOWT. Everyone recognises a bumblebee when they see one – but with 24 (and a half) species in Britain, including some species only recognised by their DNA and others which live a piratical existence taking over other bees’ nests, there’s a lot more to these declining insects than is generally realized.

17th November                                     Owen Mountford (C.E.H )
Between the Woods and the Water: the Natural History of Romania

The EU country with the most varied natural history, Romania has mountains, forests with bear, wolf and lynx, one of the great wetlands in the Danube Delta, steppe and the Black Sea coast. All this is coupled to a remarkable range of culture. The talk will explore Romania, its diversity and beauty. The speaker leads wetland ecology research at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

1st December                                        Prof Peter Worsley ( Reading Univ.)
The Sulham Gap area from a geological perspective.

The Sulham Gap is an anomaly as it has no through drainage. However, the landforms demonstrate that at least some of the River Kennet discharge flowed through the gap into the Thames during the final phases of the Last Ice Age around twelve thousand years ago. The possible reasons for abandonment will be explored.

15th December Christmas Party and Photographic Competition


 5th January                                      Peter Creed (Nature consultant and author)
Wild orchids in Berks, Bucks and Oxon

More species of wild orchid are found in this region than anywhere else in Britain. Peter Creed has seen and photographed all the fascinating species and will talk about when and where to see them locally.

19th January                                         Timothy Walker (Oxford Univ.)
Sex, Lies and Putrefaction

Joint meeting with BBOWT. The speaker was Horti Praefectus at Oxford Botanic gardens for 26 years and presented a series on the history of botany for BBC4. He will use his extensive knowledge of plants to introduce us to the wide variety of animals and other vectors that are exploited by plants for pollination, which is one of the closest relationships in Nature. He will demonstrate why this knowledge is so important to us all.

2nd February                                          Dr. P. Morris (Author)
The Edible Dormouse- a protected pest coming your way!

The Edible Dormouse Glis glis was introduced to Britain in 1902. It has become a significant pest and is still expanding its range. This talk will describe its extraordinary ecology, based on a 20-year study in the Chilterns, the only long-term investigation anywhere in Europe. Dr. Morris was a zoology lecturer at Royal Holloway College until retirement.

16th February                                         Dr. Tom Hart (Univ. Oxford)
Beyond Bases: 21st century techniques to monitor Antarctica

Penguins are some of the best studied species in Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic. Despite this, we know surprisingly little of their ecology and how they are responding to climate change and emerging fisheries. Dr. Hart will discuss a series of techniques that he has used to set up a monitoring network around the Southern Ocean.

 1st March                                    Erika Degani/ Samuel Leigh(Reading Univ.)
Can novel crop rotations enhance multiple ecosystem services?
Our project is looking into the potential of novel crop rotations to enhance biodiversity-derived ecosystem service in arable systems. We are focusing on soil fertility, pollination and pest regulation and any potential trade-offs and/or synergies between these services.

 15th March                                    AGM and Members’ Evening

Winter 2014/2015

7th October                         Dr. Michael Keith-Lucas
Presidential Address:           The natural history of Shetland

21st October                       Emma Rothero (OU)
Floodplain meadows:   a natural and cultural history

4th November                     Prof. Jeremy Thomas OBE (Oxford Univ.)
Butterflies that live with ants

18th November                    Marek Borkowski (Wildlife Poland)
Pole position in nature conservation

2nd December                     Katherine Booth-Jones (Reading Univ.)
Tracking tropical seabirds: the influence of genes and environment on dispersal

16th December
Christmas Party and Photographic Competition


 6th January                          Dick Greenaway (Chairman West Berkshire Countryside Society)
Where did our woods come from? A short history of woodland in southern England

20th January                        Alan Potter (Brunel microscopes)
Microscopes and natural history

3rd February                        Dr. Helen Read (Conservation Officer, Burnham Beeches NNR)
Pollards and pollarding, with particular emphasis on Burnham Beeches

17th February                       David Cliffe
Flowers of Greece: south and north, autumn and spring

3rd March                            John Tyler (Naturalist)
The island of crabs

17th March                          AGM and Members’ Evening

Winter 2013/2014

1st October                                              Dr. Owen Mountford
From Wilderness to Cabbage Patch to a new Waterland – the Changing Face of Fenland

15th October                                           Dr. Malcolm Storey
Fungi in the Garden

5th November                                         Martin Townsend
Oak Processionary Moth: history and life history in Berkshire and elsewhere

19th November                                       Prof. Ben Sheldon
Half a century and counting: population studies of the Great Tit population at Wytham Woods.

3rd December                                         Chloe Hardman
Wildlife-friendly farming in the UK

17th December
Christmas Party and Photographic Competition


7th January                                            Dr. Michael Keith-Lucas
Presidential Address:How Plants solve Crime

21st January                                           Martin Woolner
A close and friendly look at some British spiders

4th February                                           Dr. Martin Bidartondo
Fungi and plants working together

18th February                                         Dr. Glynn Percival
What’s New in Tree Protection?

4th March                                               Malcolm Brownsword
Butterflies and Orchids of the Upper Thames Region

18th March                             AGM and Members’ Evening

Winter 2012/2013

2nd October                                            Prof. Chris Bucke
Presidential Address: European Mountain Flowers

16th October                                           Roger Dobbs
Practical woodland management – does all our blood, sweat and tears really help wildlife?

6th November                                         David Redhead
Understanding the Brown Hairstreak Butterfly

20th November                                       Brian Clews
Wildlife of the JubileeRiver

4th December                                         Des Sussex
The Thames Basin Heaths

18th December
Christmas Party and Photographic Competition

8th January                                            Dr Peter Spillett
The Pantanal – Home of the Jaguar

22nd January                          Jennnifer and Victoria Wickens
British Bees: an Introduction

5th February                                           Darren Mann
The Hope Entomological Collections, Oxford – Just a load of dead bugs?

19th February                                         Dr Daniel Allen
Otters of the World

5th March                                               Dr Phil Baker
Urban Cats

19th March                             AGM and Members’ Evening

Winter 2011/2012

4th October                             Nathan Callaghan / Mark Lee
Traffic Pollution and the Environment

18th October                           Helen Whiteside
The Real Life of Fantastic Mr. Fox

1st November                         Dr. Fred Rumsey
Ferns of the British Isles

15th November                       Prof. Georges Dussart
Slugs and Snails and….? The life and loves of a soft-bodied animal

6th December
Christmas Party and Photographic Competition


3rd January                            John Eyre
Gilbert White – the man who started us all bird-watching

17th January                          Dr. Renton Righelato
Bird Conservation in Ecuador

7th February                           Prof. Chris Bucke
Presidential Address: Photosynthesis

21st February                         Jo Hodgkins
Lowland Meadows of England: their history, conservation and wildlife

6th March                               Rob McBride
Offa’s Dyke First Ever Ancient Tree Survey

20th March                             AGM and Members’ Evening

Winter 2010/2011

5th October                                             Graham Saunders (Presidential Address)
Ancient Medicine

19th October                                          Catherine Side and Ray Winger
The Islands of the Hauraki Gulf

2nd November                                        Paul Stanbury
Wildlife of Madagascar

16th November                                       Dan Carpenter

7th December
Christmas Party and Photographic Competition

4th January                                            Peter Spillet
Peru, Land of Incas, Earthquakes and Biodiversity

18th January                                          James Butler
An Evening on Safari

1st February                                           Samantha Cartwright
Conservation of the Mauritius Kestrel

15th February                                         David Cliffe
As we were – 130 years of the RDNHS

1st March                                                Dr Malcolm Storey
The Seashore

15th March                                        Members’ Evening, AGM and Book Sale

2009 Winter

Date Title Speaker
6th October Presidential Address – AncientGardens: Graham Saunders
20th October Antarctica to Ascension: Martin Sell
3rd November Flowers and fumigants – a brief history of botany at Kew: Prof. David Mabberley
17th November The Darwin Conspiracy / Wallace: Roy Davies
1st December Diatoms and Red Tides: Prof. Jane Lewis
15th December Christmas Party and Photographic Competition n/a

2010 Spring

Date Title Speaker
5th January Beavers:  Derek Gow
19th January Eels – a threatened species?: Dr. Brian Knights
2nd February A botanist’s view of a tourist destination – the Canarian flora: Frances Watkins
16th February Swift conservation: Edward Mayer
2nd March Glow-worms: John Tyler
16th March Members’ Evening, AGM and Book Sale

2008 Winter

Date Title Speaker
7th October Presidential Address: SU76 Finding the butterflies in a 10K square. Jan Haseler
21st October Mr Toad, Ratty & Mole. Rod d’Ayala
4th November Otmoor, a new RSPB reserve. Dr Alan Parfitt
18th November Aspects of the natural history of the Arctic. Prof. Peter Worsley
2nd December Work towards a new Flora of Morocco. Dr. Stephen Jury
16th December Christmas Party & photographic competition.

2009 Spring

Date Title Speaker
6th January (Mis)adventures in Tien Shan. Prof. Chris Bucke
20th January Pollen and archaeology. Dr. Michael Keith-Lucas
3rd February The wildlife of Peru and Ecuador. Andy Tucker
17th February The fall and rise of farmland birds in Britain. How can we make agriculture work for wildlife in Britain? Prof. Keith Norris
3rd March Mad March Hares. Prof. Stephen Harris
17th March Member’s evening, AGM & book sale.

2007 Winter

Date Title Speaker
2nd October Moor Copse – the Wildlife Haven on our Doorstep Jan Haseler
16th October Coral Reefs – the Jewels of the Sea Dr. David George
6th November The Ridgeway John Tyler
20th November St. Kilda Alastair Mackay
4th December Bengal Tigers James Butler
17th December Christmas Party

2008 Spring

Date Title Speaker
8th January Bird Watching Identification – a New Approach Terry Bond
15th January Fungi of the Rain Forest Prof. John Hedger
5th February The Natural History Museum – an Insider’s View Stuart Hine
19th February Stop Climate Chaos David Nobbs
4th March Greenham Common Andy Phillips
17th March AGM and Members’ Evening

2006 Winter

Date Title Speaker
3rd October Presidential Address – December in Patagonia Prof. Chris Bucke
17th October Purple Emperor mythology & Silver-studded Blue Matthew Oates & Grahame Hawker
7th November The New Forest Mike Read
21st November Fungi of Wales
(Fungi of the Rainforest by Prof. John Hedger postponed at short notice)
Dr Gareth Griffith
5th December Christmas Party (including photo competition)

2007 Spring

Date Title Speaker
2nd January The Nightjar Philip Palmer
16th January Namibia & its flora Dr Michael Keith-Lucas
6th February The Galapagos Islands Prof. Sir Ghillean Prance
20th February Moths Martin Harvey
6th March The Hedgehog Dr Pat Morris
20th March Member’s Evening (including AGM & book auction)

2006 Spring

Date Title Speaker
3rd January Butterflies of the Harris garden Jan Haseler
17th January South Africa – Land of contrasts Barry Oxley
7th February The importance of ponds Dr Stephen Head
21st February Flowers & wildlife of Iran Ian Green
7th March Bat conservation in Oxfordshire Reg Tipping
21st March Member’s evening
(including AGM & book auction)

2005 winter

Date Title Speaker
4th October Footprints in the mud (Java) Prof. Chris Bucke
25th October Lundy – Island of contrasts
(N.B. 4th Tuesday not 3rd Tuesday)
Prof. Jennifer George
1st November European Dragonflies Graham Vick
15th November Returning wild flowers and better farming to the countryside Charles Flower
6th December Christmas party
(including a photo competition)