Upcoming Events September 2019- April 2020

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

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


September 2019 – April 2020


Thursday 26th September 2019

Gilbert White: His Garden & His Natural History illustrated talk by David Standing

The speaker has degrees in geography and environmental planning, and has been the Head Gardener at Gilbert White’s house, Selborne for 38 years, retiring in May 2017. He has been giving talks on Gilbert White’s eighteenth century garden and related subjects for the last 35 years.


Thursday 24th October 2019

A Chemist’s View of the Earth Atmosphere illustrated talk by Professor David Phillips, CBE, FRS

The earth atmosphere, unique in the solar system and beyond, is mainly nitrogen [78%], with 20% oxygen and minor components, including a crucial 0.04 % carbon dioxide. How the atmosphere developed over geological time will be described briefly. The way in which the structure of the current atmosphere depends upon these constituents and their interaction with sunlight will be described in lay terms and will include discussion of the protective role of ozone, and the man-made changes with consequent harmful effects, such as urban pollution including photochemical smog, and climate change.
Professor David Phillips, CBE, FRS is Professor Emeritus at Imperial College London, where he served formerly as Head of Chemistry and Dean of Natural Sciences. He was President of the Royal Society of Chemistry 2010-2012, and was awarded the Michael Faraday Medal and Prize of the Royal Society for his contributions to the public understanding of science.


Thursday 28th November 2019

Short AGM followed by a celebratory drink and cake to celebrate 40 years of the West Surrey Natural History Society! There will also be a display of members photos.


Thursday 12th December 2019

The Work of ‘Trinibats’ – Improving Perceptions of Bats in Trinidad and Tobago illustrated talk by Ross Baker

Ross is chairman of Surrey Bat Group and has been involved in bat research, not just in Surrey but in Trinidad, Brazil and Zambia for over 30 years. This talk will focus on the work of the Trinibats Group and the work they have done to increase public awareness and legal protection of bats in Trinidad and Tobago. As well as illustrating some of the varied bat species found there, this talk will also feature some other spectacular wildlife.

The talk will be followed by festive mulled wine and mince pies! Members £3 Non-members £5


Thursday 23rd January 2020

A Woodland Year illustrated talk by Simon Ginnaw

Join Simon as he takes us on a walk in the woods following the seasons, to discover beautiful butterflies, plentiful birds, and the mysterious creatures of the nigh

Simon has been working and volunteering in and around conservation and wildlife education for several years now for the RSPB, Forestry Commission, and as a Country Park Ranger. He runs his own small company as an ornithological consultant, guest speaker, tutor, and wildlife tour director & guide. Simon has worked across the UK, widely through Europe, and further afield. The talk will burst with Simon’s own photos, sound recordings, and the occasional piece of music.


Thursday 27th February 2020

Farming and Wildlife: Conflict, Compromise or Coexistence? illustrated talk by Dr. Jemma Batten

Jemma has been a farm-environment consultant since 1999 and works for private farm and estate clients, and with local and national conservation organisations in a farmer engagement role. In 2011, with the farmers of the Marlborough Downs, Jemma developed the first farmer led landscape- scale conservation project funded by Defra. This was a great success, delivering genuine grass roots action and inspiring both GWCT’s Farmer Clusters and Natural England’s Facilitation Fund. Seven years later the Marlborough Downs group continues to thrive, and Jemma’s portfolio now includes two more farmer groups.


Thursday 26th March 2020

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

A talk by Penny Williams who is the BTO Regional Rep for Surrey. Penny will talk about the surveys that she organises and/or participates in. The surveys not only include birds but other species too. Penny will also be talking about 2 holidays that she took in 2016; the first in Tibetan China and the second travelling from Ascension Island via St Helena to Cape Town.


Thursday 23rd April 2020

The Outer Hebrides with dog! illustrated talk by Anna Stribley

This talk will cover our adventures in the Outer Hebrides from The Isle of Lewis to Barra in our campervan in 2014 and 2015. Wildlife, scenery, a snatch of megalithic history and the occasional photo of Nelson, the dog!



Thursday 28th February 2019

Swifts – The Birds You Can Help – illustrated talk by Edward Mayer

In 2003 Edward Mayer pioneered “Swift Conservation”, an approach to preserving the future of the Common Swift (Apus apus) through advice, talks and the encouragement of widespread volunteer action.  Advice is offered via its website and Edward gives training sessions to various organisations.  Free leaflets and nest box designs are available, as well as recordings of Swift calls for attacking the birds to new nest sites.  There is now an extensive “Swift Local Network” across the united Kingdom

Thursday 28th March 2019

Raptors of the UK – illustrated talk by Mary Braddock

A talk about resident raptors and those that migrate to the UK.  Included are details of habitat and prey and some of the other wildlife found where they exist.  This talk explores the rise and fall of raptor populations, their fight to survive and some of the issues surrounding these amazing hunters.  Mary has been a volunteer with the RSPB for 24 years and is currently concentrating her efforts at Farnham & Hazeley Heath Reserves where they are working hard to manage heathland for the rare species that depend upon that type of habitat.  Mary uses all her own pictures to illustrate her talks.

Thursday 25th April 2019

Pangolins: the most illegally trafficked mammal in the world – illustrated talk by Jo Elphick

Jo is the education manager for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, a conservation charity based in Shalford, funding key wildlife conservation projects across Africa and Asia.  One of the animals that they support is the Pangolin.  Relatively unknown to many, it is the most illegally trafficked mammal in the world.  Find out more about this shy, elusive creature, what makes it such a special animal and why it needs our help.  Jo will also tell us about the work of The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.



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



September 2019 

Over centuries, Britain has lost many keystone species. These species (the beaver, for example) have a role as ecosystem engineers and are essential to a flourishing natural environment. Top predators, such as the lynx and wolf, drive ecological processes from the top of the food chain to the bottom. This is known as a trophic cascade. The discovery of trophic cascades shows that living systems can’t function properly where large animals are missing and there is now active consideration being given to the introduction of wolves to certain parts of the British Isles. Clearly, reintroductions should not happen unless there is widespread public support and consent, and it probably will not come as a surprise that such a move is not greeted with widespread enthusiasm; sheep farmers in particular are not too keen. The final decision will have to be taken with local communities and landowners and the reintroduction of some species may be a decision for future generations.

There have been some successful initiatives, though. The Red Kite is a well-known example. The rarity of the Red Kite had made it a prime target for egg collectors and bounty hunters, who robbed up to a quarter of nests each year. After it was hunted almost to extinction, a decision was taken by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee in 1989 to reintroduce the bird to various parts of the UK, starting with the Chilterns. A similar endeavour has just begun with the Hen Harrier in the southern parts of England – Salisbury Plain for example – although not without some vociferous criticism. The Hen Harrier is dangerously close to extinction in the UK because of habitat loss and illegal persecution on the grouse moors in the north of the country.

Salisbury Plain is also the venue for the reintroduction of Great Bustards, formerly very much part of British wildlife until the 1840s, when they became extinct due to collectors and changes in agriculture. After a reintroduction programme started in 2004, the numbers are up to 75 and seem now to be self-sustainable. A success story, then.

Whilst the introduction of non-native species and trees with disease are both clearly unwise, to say the least, the careful nurturing of our native animals is essential for the future of our ecosystem, and care of the habitat is becoming more widespread as more and more farmers embrace methods likely to enhance the wildlife on their land. There is still a very long way to go, though.