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Indoor programme

Meetings are held on Tuesday evenings starting at 19:45, at Pangbourne Village Hall, RG8 7AN or on Zoom where indicated. Members are invited to bring exhibits and share their observations. The Zoom link will be in our monthly newsletter or use the contact form to ask for one. If Covid-19 restrictions are reimposed, other meetings may also need to be on Zoom. Please check the website or contact a committee member.

Visitors welcome (£3 charge).

If you wish to become a member click here. Our full programme of field trips and informal walks takes place throughout the year.

To see all our upcoming activities please see our convenient calendar of events.

Winter 2023 – Spring 2024

3rd October (ZOOM) Dom Price (Species Recovery Trust)
The Species Recovery Trust
A brief talk outlining the work of the SRT, the species they are working to try and save, and some of the challenges faced in the world of endangered species conservation. Dominic Price is the founder and director of SRT and is one of the country’s leading species conservation experts and botanical authors.

17th October Rose-Ann Movsovic (Berks & S Bucks Bat Group)
Bats in Berkshire
After a brief introduction to UK bats, we will look at the species that can be found in Berkshire, including the types of habitats they use for roosting and foraging, where to go to see bats and how the local bat group is contributing to our knowledge.

7th November (ZOOM) Des Sussex (The Crown Estate)
The Windsor Estate
The wildlife and conservation work on The Crown Estate land at Windsor, extending across over 6500ha of varied land and habitats from the Castle, down the Long Walk through the Deer Park, and across to Swinley Forest in the south. The land includes over 3000ha designated as SSSI, SAC and SPA due to its exceptional conservation importance.

21st November Bob Cowley (Oxfordshire Mammal Group)
An Introduction to Tracks & Signs – the Naturalist’s Forgotten Skill
The ability to accurately identify and interpret tracks and signs relies on a body of traditional knowledge that previous generations of naturalists would have regarded as fundamental. Sadly, now it is largely unknown and untaught, but with the upsurge of citizen science, it is perhaps more relevant than ever.

5th December (ZOOM) Lucy Wilde (Wilde Ecology Dogs)
Conservation Detection Dogs
A brief talk about the use of conservation detection dogs, how they are trained, research being done with case studies, and Lucy’s personal experience of working with the dogs. Additionally, share how people can get involved and find out about formal training.
19th December
Christmas Party and Photographic Competition


2nd January (ZOOM) Keith Betton (Hants Ornithological Soc)
Saving the Stone Curlew
The Stone Curlew is a special bird of the North Wessex Downs where it breeds in small numbers. This summer migrant naturally chooses to nest on downland, but usually has to opt for arable farms instead. Keith Betton explains how efforts to help this rare species have worked and explains more about its secretive lifestyle.

16th January Matt Eade (Naturetrek Ltd)
Birds and Mammals of the Terai Lowlands
Nepal has greatly varying habitats, with eight 8,000m mountains, tropical forested hillsides, and Terai lowlands, which support a wealth of birds, plus the ultimate big cat – the Bengal Tiger. In this talk, Matt will discuss in detail the more remote regions of Nepal and the wildlife one can expect to find there.

6th Feb (ZOOM) Prof Jon Copley (Univ of Southampton)
Life at Deep-sea Hydrothermal Vents
This talk explores the patterns of life at hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, where chemosynthesis sustains colonies of deep-sea animals that often form partnerships with microbes. Because of their island-like nature, hydrothermal vents provide an ideal system to investigate processes of dispersal and evolution in the deep ocean that covers most of our world.

20th February Dr Brian Ferry (Royal Holloway College)
Flora of the Eastern Pyrenees
From 1990-2010 Brian made annual visits to the eastern Pyrenees where he made detailed studies of the flora. The flora is essentially Mediterranean in type, but with great altitudinal variation from lowland valleys, often dominated by evergreen oak forests, to high altitude beech and conifer forests, both forms of scrub vegetation derived from Man’s activities over millennia. As well as focusing on the plants, Brian spent time bird watching and moth trapping so these will get a mention too.

5th March (ZOOM) Dr Tim Rich (BSBI)
The Difficult Plant Problem
There are many groups of plants which are difficult to identify, but relatively few botanists are interested in tackling them. This talk draws attention to some of the difficult groups, covers why they are difficult, and suggests ways that they can be identified. So, take up difficult plants – you can make a difference!

19th March
AGM and Members’ Evening

Archive of previous evening talks

Winter 2022 / Spring 2023

 4th October (ZOOM)                       Dr John Redhead (UKCEH)

Balancing biodiversity within economic farming systems

John’s research focuses on using land in a way that is sustainable, in terms of both protecting nature and ensuring human benefits. He will discuss the results of a ten year monitoring programme of agri-environment schemes on biodiversity and farm economics.

18th October    Emma Ashby (Berkshire College of Agriculture)

Exploring the behaviour and social networks of captive Grey Wolves

Emma’s talk will describe her research into Grey Wolves and the social interactions that took place between several groups of Grey Wolves in a captive environment. She will detail the type, frequency and meaning of these interactions within and across groups of wolves.

1st November      Dr David Williams (Natural History Museum)

Diatoms in the Ring of Fire

David is researching the systematics and biogeography of diatoms, especially in ancient lakes, and Circum-Pacific distributions. During the last decade he has concentrated his efforts on the role of fossils in determining evolutionary relationships in diatoms.

15th November (ZOOM)                               Matt Pitts (Plantlife)

Saving England’s Lowland Juniper

Juniper is facing extinction in Southern Britain with whole colonies dying out. Since 2009, Plantlife has been trialling in-situ techniques to catalyse regeneration from seed at trial sites including Aston Upthorpe (recently visited by RDNHS). Matt will explain this project and give an update on progress so far.

6th Dec (ZOOM)       Dr Fay Newbery (RHS/British Lichen Soc)

Fungi in Gardens: The good, the bad and the wondrous

A surprisingly large number of fungi occur in gardens. Some are ‘good guys’ helping to recycle nutrients. Some are ‘bad guys’, causing plant disease and destroying trees. Others live out their amazing life cycles within our gardens with or without us noticing that they are there.

20th December

Christmas Party and Photographic Competition


3rd January (ZOOM)                       Mick Jones MBE (BBOWT)

Dancersend: Cradle of Nature Conservation

Hear the extraordinary story of Dancersend Nature Reserve and its woods and chalk grasslands, how Charles Rothschild saved this valley rich in wildlife and his family later passed it to the Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) who have made it even larger. The story also illustrates changing ideas about nature conservation over the last hundred years since Dancersend was established. Mick has been the volunteer warden there for over 40 years.

17th January                                                     Jon Cole (BENHS)

A Survey and Review of Saproxylic Insects at Dinton Pastures Country Park

Saproxylic species are in decline. They are associated with dead or decaying wood, providing important ecosystem services such as nutrient recycling and carbon sequestration. This talk describes the perhaps surprising results of a long-term survey of saproxylic insects at Dinton Pastures Country Park.

7th Feb (ZOOM)    Prof Graham Martin (Univ. of Birmingham)

Diverting birds

Graham is an ornithologist with an international reputation built upon his research into the sensory worlds of birds. In recent years he has been investigating problems concerned with the functions of vision in foraging behaviour, and in understanding why some bird species are particularly vulnerable to collisions with human artefacts, such as wind turbines, power lines and fishing nets.

21st February                                         Imogen Cavadino (RHS)

For the love of slugs

Slugs are widely detested by gardeners, however they are represented by a diverse range of species in Britain and Ireland which play important roles in ecosystems. This talk will introduce you to the strange but fascinating world of slugs and the challenges they face in a changing world.

7th March (ZOOM)                                                       Derek Gow

Bringing Back the Beaver

Derek is a reintroduction expert, author, and farmer. Much of his land in Devon is under the process of rewilding (similar to the Knepp Estate) and he is well known for his work with Water Voles, White Storks, Wild Cats and Beavers. His talk will be about the history of the Beaver in Britain and its reintroduction.

21st March                                      AGM and Members’ Evening

Winter 2021/2022

5th October                        Matthew Oates (National Trust)
Discovering the Purple Emperor
This butterfly is a good news story. It is on the increase and we are getting better at looking for it. This talk explains what is happening, and why. It is based on Matthew’s new book ‘His Imperial Majesty, a natural history of the Purple Emperor’.

19th October                     Stephen Powles (Freelance wildlife reporter)
Tawny Owls coming to a wood near you        (ZOOM Meeting)
Tawny Owls are often heard but rarely seen. This presentation describes the lives of these fascinating birds, much of it gleaned from a wild Tawny Owl that Stephen spent many hours observing and photographing over a fifteen-year period.

2nd November                   Dr Chris Foster (University of Reading)
Britain’s ground beetles: diversity, ecology and change
This diverse group of beetles contains some of our largest and most spectacular insects, as well as many more mysterious species. The talk will explore the distribution and ecology of Britain’s ground beetles and what they can tell us about landscape change. Joint meeting with BBOWT.

16th November                  Rob Stallard (RDNHS)
Local walks on the wild side
Rob has walked extensively in the local area. This talk will give an overview of the historical background to the intricate network of local routes which now provide vital wildlife corridors. It will include many photographs of the wildlife delights that can be seen along the long-distance paths that run through the area.

7th December                    Dr Brian Ferry (Royal Holloway College)
Plant communities of the Canary Islands
By chance in 1991, Brian became acquainted with the flora of Tenerife when asked to help run a field course for his university department. That trip opened his eyes to the remarkable flora of the island, a view which has since been expanded to cover the other six Canary Islands.

21st December
Christmas Party and Photographic Competition


4th January (ZOOM meeting)       Rajan Jolly (Naturetrek Ltd)
Exploring the wildlife of India and Sri Lanka
Rajan will be talking about Naturetrek’s two most popular tours to Sri Lanka and India: Sri Lanka – Wildlife and History (a 17-day wildlife holiday which also includes cultural tours) and India Tiger Direct! (an exciting tour taking you straight into the heart of tiger country).

18th January                       Prof Helen Roy (CEH)
Biological invasions: learning from the past and looking to the future
Biological invasions can threaten biodiversity and ecosystems, particularly through their interactions with other drivers of change, such as climate warming. Sharing knowledge on invasive non-native species between countries is essential to advance understanding and enable successful implementation of management strategies. The talk provides an overview of the ways in which this information can be used to inform science, policy and conservation.

1st February                       Prof Martin Bidartondo (Imperial College and RBG Kew)
Fungi and plants working together in a changing world
Fungi helped plants to colonise land and ultimately dominate it. New findings are changing our views of how plants establish and grow with fungi. Martin will discuss examples ranging from the liverworts that carpet the ground to the orchids of the forest understorey and to the conifer and broadleaf trees that make up our woods. Joint meeting with BBOWT.

15th February                      Mia Ridler (ARK)
Local rivers and the fascinating life of the European Eel
Mia is a project officer at Action for the Kennet, a local charity which helps to protect and restore the rivers in the Kennet and Pang catchments. Her talk will include the work being carried out to help the long-term survival of the European Eel.

1st March                             Dr Tom Walker (RDNHS/Conchological Society)
My journey into shells 
Shells are everywhere around us, many of them so small that we are unaware of their presence. Tom will discuss his entry into this world and talk about some of the non-marine shells that can be found in our gardens and countryside, and what we can learn from them.

15th March                            AGM and Members’ Evening

Winter 2020/2021

6th October                                          Ken White (RDNHS/BTO)

First impressions of Patagonia

Three weeks of austral summer on Patagonia through the eyes of a Darwinian birdwatcher and botanist.

3rd November              Dr Brian Ferry (Royal Holloway College)

Vegetation patterns on the Dungeness shingle

Dungeness is the largest shingle landscape in Europe, with a sequence of several hundred shingle ridges extending several kilometres inland. The natural succession of vegetation change associated with ridge age will be described. Much of the landscape has been disturbed by man, resulting in a rich secondary flora. Scattered over the area are wetlands, some natural and others man-made, which add further to the diversity. These various elements make Dungeness one of the richest sites for plants in Kent.

1st December                                     Dr John Thacker (RDNHS)

What has DNA ever done for us?

DNA provides the information to construct and maintain the identity of each organism. Access to this information is revolutionising our ability to describe and understand ourselves and other organisms, but how useful is DNA analysis in the identification, recording and conservation of wildlife?

15th December

Christmas Party and Photographic Competition

The photographic competition will be held online this year – see website for details. Results to be announced at the party, which may also be held via Zoom.

19th January 2021                  Dr Jim Asher (Butterfly Conservation)

What’s up on the Downs?

For many years, local Butterfly Conservation volunteers have been carrying out survey and conservation work in a valley system on the Aston Upthorpe Downs. In this fully illustrated talk Jim will describe the valley, its wildlife, especially butterflies and moths, and the work done by volunteers.

2nd February                    Dr Lucy Woodall (Oxford University)

The deep sea: what does it do for you?

What does the deep ocean look like? This presentation will share the delights and challenges of exploring the ocean’s deep reef communities. It will also highlight why these places are important to humanity and what we can all do to help them stay healthy.

16th February                    Prof Owen Lewis (Oxford University)

Exploring Rainforest Biodiversity

Tropical rainforests support an extraordinary diversity of species, but are threatened by high rates of deforestation and degradation. Based on my experience researching rainforest biodiversity on three continents, I will discuss why rainforest diversity is so high, why it is threatened, and how we can maintain it.

2nd March Keith Betton (Hampshire Ornithological Society)

Return of the Peregrine

Peregrines in the UK declined to just 350 pairs during the period 1940-1970. Since then they have increased to 2000 pairs – and have nested in several Berkshire locations. A new trend is nesting on buildings and pylons. Keith Betton has studied their rise and shares his experiences of them – often nesting in boxes that he has supplied.

6th March

AGM and Members’ Evening

Winter 2019/2020

1st October                                                                                   David Cliffe

Presidential Address:                             Midsummer on Gotland

An account of a trip made to this Swedish island in the Baltic in 2006, illustrating the rich and varied flora. Something of its history and archaeology will crop up along the way.

15th October                                           Dr Jonathan Mitchley (Univ. Reading)

He’s singing our song!   Dr M’s guide to British Grasses

Grasses are considered difficult to identify but the Poaceae is a very important family, many are ecological indicators of site condition and it is also very satisfying to be able to identify at least common grasses. This talk will include examination of living material and will provide tips for a better understanding of grasses green and wonderful.

5th November                                                    Dr Phil Baker (Univ. Reading)


Hedgehogs are one of our most loved British mammals but are in serious decline. Their future depends on our help, but just how far are people prepared to go to help our spiny friends? Joint meeting with BBOWT.

19th November                                                                         Ailsa Claybourn

Cockatoos and Kookaburras: The birds of Sydney suburbs

Australia’s birds are impossible to ignore: frequently colourful, large, abundant and often unafraid to be literally “in your face”, they are very much a part of everyday suburban life in Sydney. Why are they so different from our usually smaller, more melodic and less conspicuous birds? Joint meeting with Reading RSPB Group.

3rd December                                                      Dr Ben Woodcock (C.E.H.)

Neonicotinoids and bees

This talk will discuss the impacts and implications of the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on both wild and honey bees in Europe.  The talk focuses on explaining some of the evidence base underpinning the recent EU ban on these chemicals that were used on  wheat and oilseed rape in the UK. Rescheduled from last year.

17th December

Christmas Party and Photographic Competition



7th January                                                                                   Ken White

Bird migration

This is a review of global bird migration with an emphasis on raptors, whose numbers are monitored at key migration hotspots. Visual counts, satellite and tagging results are presented to describe the phenology and remarkable feats these and other birds achieve on an annual basis.

21st January                                                   Dr Jon Robson (Univ. Reading)

The day after tomorrow – is the Gulf Stream set to shutdown?

A common popularisation of extreme climate change is that the Gulf Stream, a fast-flowing ocean current in the North Atlantic, will ‘shutdown’ with radical implications for the UK’s weather and climate. But how likely is this scenario, and is it even possible? Dr Robson will review the science and the possible implications.

 4th February                                                                Dr Carol Ellison (CABI)

Himalayan balsam: can biological control with a rust fungus bring an end to ‘balsam bashing’?

Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is a non-native plant species that has become highly invasive across the UK. Ministerial approval has been given to trial a rust fungus from the Himalayas to manage this weed.  Dr Ellison will be discussing the current status of the rust release programme in the UK.

18th February                                                   Jill Butler (Ancient Tree Forum)

Knepp Wildland – is wilding good for wildlife?

Since 2001, most of the historic Knepp Estate, once intensively farmed, has become a rewilding project where grazing animals drive ecological succession to ‘free’ nature. Rare species like turtle doves and purple emperor butterflies are now breeding; and common species numbers are rocketing. Is this the way forwards for many more areas of the UK? Joint meeting with BBOWT.

3rd March                             Dr Camilla Lambrick (Oxfordshire Flora Group)

Rare Plants I have known

‘Think global, act local’ – the slogan was given teeth by the 1992 Earth Summit, so a Rare Plants Group was started and was asked to investigate Creeping Marshwort. Then they started studying other local rarities – including Fen Violet and Green Hound’s-tongue. Some have since flourished, others are in trouble – Creeping Marshwort has been re-graded as Critically Endangered, and its Flora Guardian is still finding out new things about it.

17th March                                      AGM and Members’ Evening

Winter 2018/2019

2nd October 2018                   David Cliffe

Presidential Address:          The nature diaries of T.W.Marshall

In this talk, our President will be using the diaries of a past President to show what has changed since the 1930s, and what remains the same – habitats in our area, species and attitudes to nature conservation. Illustrated with some 1930s photographs.

16th October                         Graham Scholey (Environment Agency)

Conservation of the Riverine Environment

A general synopsis of the work of the Environment Agency with respect to river ecology and conservation, the sorts of issue we deal with in our regulatory and advisory role, and some examples of local collaborative initiatives such as Fobney Island Wetland Nature Reserve.

6th November                       Adrian Lawson (Reading tree warden)

The Shady Side of Town – Reading’s trees.

The Shady Side of Town is a book of stories about some of Reading’s trees. In writing the book, the author was restricted to a handful, and many favourites were left out. The talk will be about some of the trees that met the editor’s axe.  [*NOTE * Rescheduled from 4th December]

20th November                     Rose-Ann Movsovic

An introduction to British bats

Joint meeting with BBOWT. A brief introduction to British bats followed by an account of the National Nathusius’ Pipistrelle Project and the contribution the Berks & South Bucks Bat Group is making to our knowledge of this rarely encountered and little understood migratory species. Live bats on display.

4th December                   Dr. Sarah Ball (Univ. Reading)

Wild flowers in Eastern Andalucía

We will be taking a short virtual excursion to the coasts and mountains of Eastern Andalucía, exploring the wild plants and their adaptations to extreme environments. We will ‘visit’ wild places, botanic gardens and other sites to consider impacts of climate change and conservation needs. [*NOTE* Rescheduled from 29th January]

18th December

Christmas Party and Photographic Competition

15th January 2019                          Prof. Mark Fricker (Univ. Oxford)

The magic of slime moulds

Slime moulds thrive in damp woodlands and normally spread over rotting logs, eating bacteria and fungi. They are also unusual in being single giant cells that show remarkably sophisticated behaviour considering their humble form. This talk presents a little vignette of the science behind these curious beasts.

29th January                                Dr. Ben Woodcock (C.E.H.)

Neonicotinoids and bees

This talk will discuss the impacts and implications of the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on both wild and honey bees in Europe.  The talk focuses on explaining some of the evidence base underpinning the recent EU ban on these chemicals that were used on  wheat and oilseed rape in the UK. [*NOTE* Rescheduled  from November 6th]

5th February                           Prof. Tim Guilford (Univ. Oxford)

The Shearwater’s world

Shearwaters are amongst the most elusive creatures on earth, spending most of their lives far out to sea and coming on land only to breed.  From navigating trans-global migrations to understanding the threats to their future existence, I will introduce Oxford Navigation (OxNav) group’s research into the shearwater’s world. ​Joint meeting with Reading RSPB group.

19th February                          Dr. Karsten Schonrogge (C.E.H.)

Of pests, disease and climate change: Oak in the 21st century

Trees and forests are and will be subject to sources of stress, such as climate change, pests and diseases which are forecast to increase in the future. I will summarise some of the current research aiming to mitigate such impacts with a focus on oak health research at CEH. Joint meeting with BBOWT.

5th March                                           Vicki Boult (Univ. Reading)

The future of the African Elephant

Human population growth presents significant immediate threats to the persistence of elephant populations across Africa, whilst climate change may act in the long-term to compensate or exacerbate human-induced threats. What does the future hold for elephants and what options do we have to conserve them?

 19th March                                      AGM and Members’ Evening

Winter 2017/2018

3rd October                                                                  David Cliffe
Presidential Address:          The Photographs of Ken Grinstead
Ken was a committee member, editor of The Reading Naturalist and an excellent natural history photographer. Following his death in 2010, the Society received some 10,000 of Ken’s slides. This talk will show some of the slides, now in digital format, and make suggestions as to how they might be utilized.

17th October                                Dr. Tom Oliver (Reading Univ.)
Impact of climate change and land use on butterflies.
In the UK, we have a wealth of natural history data collected by dedicated volunteers which is very useful for understanding the impact of environmental change on butterflies. Dr. Oliver will show how detailed analysis of the data enables environmentalists to make informed decisions for butterfly conservation.

7th November                                Des Sussex (Natural England)
Damselflies and Dragonflies in Southern Lowland Britain.
The talk will cover both common and scarcer species of damselflies and dragonflies and their habitats, with particular reference to localities in Berkshire. Des will discuss their lifecycles, and include details of some conservation actions taken to help these wonderful insects. Joint meeting with BBOWT.

21st November                                                 Katrina van Grouw
A very Fine Swan Indeed: Art, Science and the Unfeathered Bird.
If you’d expect a book about bird anatomy to be specialized and academic, think again. The Unfeathered Bird is a unique combination of art and science aimed at anyone interested in birds. Join Katrina as she discusses her inspirations for the book, and the 25-year journey to create it.

5th December                                 Dr. Tara Pirie (Reading Univ.)
Leopards in South Africa.
Dr. Pirie will talk about South African leopards including general biology, her research and the methods used to identify them using their coat patterns. The talk will include information about the extremely rare strawberry/erythristic leopard captured on camera.

19th December
Christmas Party and Photographic Competition


 2nd January                                                                Tony Rayner
Conservation – my way.
Tony’s Presidential Address in 2003 was about creating a private nature reserve from scratch. 14 years on, this talk seeks to outline the development and uses of this Cholsey site. Expect to hear about education, cider and a book.

16th January                                           Dr. Michael Keith-Lucas
Climate Change – What will happen to your garden?
Our speaker will talk about the effect of climate change on the plants in our gardens, and how it is affecting agriculture and wild species throughout the year. Michael has made an in-depth study of this topic over many years, so come along to hear a very well informed talk.

6th February                                        Dr. Seirian Sumner (UCL)
Why you should love wasps.
Everyone loves bees and is awe-struck by ants but no-one loves wasps. Dr. Sumner’s mission is to make you think differently about these insects: there are 100 times more species of wasps than ants and bees combined, and their populations are declining at rates faster than bees. Without wasps your garden would be swamped with insect pests and spiders. But the main reason our speaker loves wasps is because their social behaviour is extraordinary and has many parallels with our own. Come along to find out!

20th February                                Lizzie Croose (Vincent Trust)
On the trail of polecats and pine martens, Britain’s most elusive mammals?
This illustrated talk will present information on the ecology of polecats and pine martens, and the trials, tribulations and pleasure of studying them. Joint meeting with BBOWT.

6th March                                  Prof. Richard Fortey FRS, FRSL
The History of a Beech Wood.
Prof. Fortey owns a small patch of Chiltern beech wood, and has spent several years researching its natural and human history to understand more about the origins and dynamics of our “ancient” countryside. Prof. Fortey is a paleontologist, natural historian, writer and TV presenter. Author of The Wood for the Trees.

20th March                                      AGM and Members’ Evening

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

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

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

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

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

15th December Christmas Party and Photographic Competition


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

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

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

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

 1st March                                    Erika Degani/ Samuel Leigh(Reading Univ.)
Can novel crop rotations enhance multiple ecosystem 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