Now that lockdown measures have eased, we will be having a mixture of indoor and online Zoom meetings. Please check out our newsletters or website for details.
Meetings are held in East Horsley Village Hall on the 4th Thursday of the month and are free to members and £3 for non-members
(except for events such as the Christmas Mulled Wine evening, when alternative price details will be advertised).
More information and details of how to get to East Horsley Village Hall are in the “About” section on this website, as well as membership details.
23 June 2022 (East Horsley Village Hall 8.00pm)
Beavers in London – an illustrated talk by Elliot Newton
Elliot is lead officer of biodiversity for Kingston upon Thames and is going to talk to us about his work and the abundance of wildlife and habitats in his charge.
22 September 2022 (East Horsley Village Hall 8.00pm)
Caring Fish, Uncaring Fish – an illustrated talk by Dr Jonathan Green, University of Oxford
27 October 2022 (Zoom meeting 8.00pm)
Wintering: A Season with Geese – an illustrated talk by Stephen Rutt
24 November 2022 (East Horsley Village Hall 8.00pm)
Return of the Greater Horseshoe Bat – an illustrated talk by Martyn Phillis of the Sussex Bat Group Greater Horseshoe Project
15 December 2022
26 January 2023 (Zoom meeting 8.00pm)
The Unfeathered Bird: From Art to Zoology, a Story of Evolution – an illustrated talk by Katrina von Grouw, University of Cambridge
23 February 2023 (Zoom meeting 8.00pm)
The Natural History of Upper Teesdale – an illustrated talk by Andy Sands
23 March 2023 (East Horsley Village Hall 8.00pm)
Forensic Botany and Allied Sciences – an illustrated talk by Prof Patricia Wiltshire
The Society occasionally organise outdoor walks and other events. Please check this website for details.
15 July 2022 (Walk 10.00am)
Guided tour around Tice’s Meadow (http://www.ticesmeadow.org)
This is a newly developed nature reserve on the site of the former Farnham Quarry, located between Badshot Lea and Tongham in Surrey. Meet at 10h00 at the main entrance on Badshot Lea Road. Directions and further information will be posted on this website nearer the time. There will be no charge but donations are always welcomed by the team looking after the site.
Otters – Coming to a River Near You – an illustrated talk by Stephen Powles (26 May)
Having spent his early life in Africa and his working life as a vet in the UK, Stephen Powles retired early in 2019 to concentrate on conservation in a beautiful part of Devon. He devoted his days and nights to studying, photographing and filming otters on a tributary of the River Exe near Tiverton and, while doing this, he also photographed and filmed himself to create a record of his activities so that, eventually, he might write a book on this period of his life.
Otters are members of the Mustelidae group of animals, which include polecats, mink, beavers and badgers, etc. He described how otters compare in size with mink (7-12kg versus 2kg!) and that their fur is incredibly dense, with an amazing 50 thousand hairs per square centimetre (compared to a human head which only has 100 thousand hairs in total!). We also learnt that otters rely heavily not only on light and clear water but also their whiskers to hunt and detect prey. The US has obviously decided that the science of their whiskers can be applied to military equipment, and an article in The Economist described attempts to invent “whiskers” on navy SEALs to help detect submarines through the vortices of spinning water that they create in their wake!
Horsell Common – an illustrated talk by Rupert Millican (28 April)
Rupert is Chief Ranger for Horsell Common and talked to us about the development of the wetlands and their wildlife, the conservation status of the common and implications for land management, the habitat and the grazing management. The Common is a 355-hectare (880 acre) open space near Woking, owned and managed by the Horsell Common Preservation Society. An area of 152ha (380 acres) is an SSSI and part of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. There are Bronze Age barrows, heathland, thousands of trees and a large volume of wildlife.
Dormice – an illustrated talk by Kathryn Killner (24 March)
The hazel dormouse is one of the most endearing small mammals in Britain. Unfortunately it is also a rare and endangered species. Their numbers have dropped by 75% over the last 25 years and they are now protected by law. Surrey is lucky enough to have a small thriving population of them, and Kathryn told us more about the work of the Surrey Dormouse Group.
A Pond Comes to Life
The builders dug us a hole for a back garden pond way back in the autumn. It was only at Christmas that we got around to the final shaping and lining. Then we filled it with tap water. It is better to use rainwater if possible but we wanted to supervise the settling of the flexible lining.
Thereafter it sat there, with the water slowly turning pea green and as the weather warmed up blanket weed began to grow – so not quite devoid of life, just the wrong sort. In mid March we at last got around to buying some water plants. Marsh Marigolds already in flower cheered things up and Yellow Irises, Water Mint, Bog Bean and an exotic Rush also went in around the edges. I lowered to the bottom, about a metre down, some Water Milfoil, an oxygenating plant. A week later I added Water Forget-me-not and another oxygenator, Mares Tail.
It was amazing. Adding the oxygenating plants had an immediate effect. The green water colour began to fade and the blanket weed stopped spreading. Now, in mid-April, we can see the bottom and there is no blanket weed floating about.
I advertised on the local WhatsApp group for frog or toad spawn but none was forthcoming, and I couldn’t find any in a local, accessible pond. Someone offered more Marsh Marigolds from their pond which I collected. A week after putting them in my pond two Water Skaters appeared. Did they come with the imported plants or did they fly in? There are now lots of them.
The birds have been enjoying drinking and bathing. We have had five Wood Pigeons drinking at once. A Magpie was determined to bathe alone and leapt out to chase away a Wood Pigeon that landed on the sprouting wildflower meadow, just three metres away, before returning to finish his toilette.
We have had very occasional Goldfinches and Pied Wagtails in the garden over the years. Now we see them at the pond most days. What will be next thing to show up?
Update: A month on and water boatmen are dashing about underwater and a host of what I think are mosquito larvae are literally hanging about, from the under surface of the water, round the shallows and wriggling like crazy when disturbed. And duckweed has appeared round the edges. I have also seen three pond snails: one large and two medium. Did they come in with the plants, I wonder? Evidently all that is needed is patience and things arrive.
That wonderful between time
I had plans to do all sorts of things over Christmas in the break between all the usual dates in the diary. Needless to say I did very little except enjoying some tranquillity and watching the jackdaws on the roofs opposite. They had nested in the capped chimney pots and now strut around the concrete surrounds or busy themselves searching the gutters. Hours of entertainment!
Sometime before Christmas, I looked out and was amazed to see a flock of starlings had decided that a good resting place was a couple of the neighbours toast-rack television aerials. Beautifully spaced, one per slot, they suddenly took off in unison – I have no idea how this synchronised exodus was started, by sound or quick reactions – but it was a joy to watch. They wheeled and swooped as one, then disappeared from my view. And of course, by the time I had found my camera (i.e. phone), there was not a bird in sight! Just thinking, it might have been that which set them off……
Something I did manage to photograph were three (slow moving) snowdrops at Wisley, now an annual event, the Post-Christmas Snowdrop Hunt. These stayed still for me to photograph!
And a Happy Continuation of the New Year to you all!