Upcoming Events in 2021

EVENING MEETINGS – Thursdays at 8pm in Ripley Village Hall.

All meetings free to members (except Mulled Wine evening) – £3 for non-members payable on the door (unless otherwise stated).*


Coronavirus Update

Although we are unable to have our usual indoor meetings, the committee are pleased to announce that they have now arranged
for some meetings to go ahead online, via Zoom.

If you are a member of the WSNHS, this service is free of charge and we hope you will be able to join us.

If you are not a member, and would like to participate,
there is a charge of £3 per meeting.
However, Single Membership is only £7 per annum,
so this is well worth considering!
Please contact our Secretary, Cally Harris, for details on:
cally.harris@creating-connections.com or 01372 459082.


22 April 2021 (Zoom meeting 8.00pm)

Countryside Management in Surrey – illustrated talk by Ben Habgood

Ben is Conservation Manager for Surrey Wildlife Trust for the Thames Basin Heaths area.
His talk will focus of the importance of the work that SWT and other wildlife organisations do on the landscape and he will explain about the social, historical and environmental significance of these habitats from a local to European level.


27 May 2021 (Zoom meeting 8.00pm)

Wildlife of Sydney and the Blue Mountainsillustrated talk by Nick Martin

Nick is an amateur wildlife photographer with a passion for nature and the countryside. He gives a range of talks, walks and workshops. Across four visits to Sydney, he has accumulated many images of this wonderful area and its nature, from vibrant fairy wrens to noisy cockatoos, frogmouths to fruitbats, with which to enchant us.


24 June 2021 (Zoom meeting 8.00pm)

Social Meeting – with “Chat Rooms”

Including a presentation by Barbara Jones entitled “Things are not what they seem”.


22 July 2021 (Watch this space)



Occasional walks are organised from time to time. They will be publicised here – so watch this space for further details!



25 March 2021 (Zoom meeting)

A Year in the Life of a Regional BTO Rep – illustrated talk by Penny Williams

Island Hopping in the Middle of the Atlantic!

Our March Zoom talk was given by Penny Williams, who is the BTO Rep for Surrey and South West London. Penny used her presentation to describe the many surveys that she is involved with, both those that she organises herself for the BTO, but also other surveys that are carried out by organisations such as RSPB, The Surrey Wildlife Trust and Bird Track.

She also gave us a photographic glimpse of two fascinating holidays she took with her husband several years ago; the first to the Qinghai Province of China, which is spread across the high-altitude Tibetan plateau. and the second to Ascension Island, in the centre of the Atlantic.

(Extract from Cally Harris’ review)


25 February 2021 (Zoom meeting)

Interesting ways plants have adapted – Illustrated talk by Prof Mark Chase

We learnt that plants can be mean, selfish and deceptive!

We were enthralled by this talk on the development of flowers and their relationship with the insects that fertilise them.

The talk started by comparing the first appearance of flowers (150 million years ago) with pines (350 million years ago!)   We were also told that bees evolved later than beetles and flies.

We learnt that some flowers have doubled their genomes and those with double develop to be more attractive, more floriferous, and, in the case of the example of the strawberry, much larger!

(Extract from Cally Harris’ review)



The Flipflopi

In a project supported by the UN Environment Programme, a group of enterprising Kenyans have gathered waste plastic and built a boat with it, in order to raise awareness of the environmental impact of plastics.

Built by Lamu-based master craftsman Ali Skanda and his team, the colourful dhow was made entirely from around ten tonnes of plastic waste collected by volunteers, mainly from the beaches of Lamu itself. Ten metres long and weighing about seven tonnes, the Flipflopi’s keel, ribs and structural elements were all made from recycled plastic, including bottles and bags, whilst the colourful panels covering hull and decking were made from about 30,000 re-purposed flip flops. In spite of the unusual materials, construction was undertaken by local craftsmen using traditional methods.

Once seaworthy, the team sailed the Flipflopi from the historic island of Lamu on the east coast of Kenya, stopping at towns and cities along the coast, then across 500km of the Indian Ocean to Stone Town in Zanzibar, in order to publicise the plastic recycling project and convince people that single use plastic doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Later this year, they are intending to take the Flipflopi around Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater fishery in the world. Of the 40 million or so people living around the lake, some 200,000 fishermen are catching nearly one million tonnes of fish a year. Research in 2015 showed 20% of fish tested had microplastics in their guts. Other local people mainly get their income from tourism, agriculture or transportation. The Flipflopi team aim to talk to communities about their plastic use, and give them practical demonstrations of how they can recycle their plastic, so that it doesn’t end up in the lake.

Liz Kingston  (Source: http://www.theflipflopi.com)


As a relative newcomer to WSNHS, I am frequently surprised by the expertise of members of the society, and the wonderful topics they have come up with to share with us on Zoom during lockdown! I hadn’t realize that Eastern Europe had so much to offer on the natural front, between Ewa’s talk on plants and Roger’s on the wildlife, it just has so much to offer. I am now torn between the Eastern (now fragmented) bloc and the Luangwa Valley (after Andrew Kingston’s travels) for my next holiday!

I hope you’ve had a good time with the bird count, keeping warm and most of all swapping stories about your vaccinations! On one idle (unjabbed) weekend, I thumbed through the paper from masthead to crossword and happened upon this reader’s letter, which rather tickled my fancy and thought you might like to share! Apparently this was but a fragment of a lively correspondence regarding pet-flaps:

Sir – I have a smart user of a cat flap. No, not my young cat [he took two weeks to learn to use it], but a hedgehog, bored with hibernating in a comfy nest in a hollow tree lined with bracken that I supplied. It has taken to nipping through the cat flap at night. One adventure took it up 16 stairs to the bathroom. It leaves again as dawn approaches.
After my initial disbelief, I rather applauded its cheek.
LD, London N2

I really hadn’t put London, N2 down as a likely habitat for a hedgehog, and evidently a bright one at that. Not so daft after all as there’s probably a dearth of badgers nearby, which I understand are very partial to a spiky snack.

Christine Tollman