Upcoming Events September 2018- April 2019

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).*

Programme of Evening Meetings

September 2018 – April 2019

Thursday 27th September 2018

The Wonderful World of the Wildlife Aid Foundation – Illustrated talk by Simon Cowell MBE

The Wildlife Aid Foundation is dedicated to the rescue, are and rehabilitation of sick, injured and orphaned wild animals.  Established in 1980, the Charity’s veterinary wildlife hospital in Leatherhead, Surrey deals with more than 20,000 wildlife emergencies every year.  Their dedicated aim is to return every patient to the wild once they have recovered.  Wildlife Aid Foundation is now embarking on what will be its biggest and most exciting project ever.  Our natural world needs all the help it can get and Simon hopes this project will just do its ‘little bit’ to make a difference.

Members £3.  Non-members £5*

Thursday 25th October 2018

The Wey and Arun Canal  The story so far – illustrated talk by Graeme Lewington

Graeme is currently a skipper for the canal boat trips and also on the speaker panel for the Trust.  The talk covers a little about the history of canals in the south and the restoration challenge for the Trust on the Wey and Arun Canal and will include information about the various species found in and beside the canal.

Thursday 22nd November 2018

Surrey Small Blue Project – illustrated talk by Fiona Haynes

This Project started in July 2017 and is focused primarily on improving habitats for some of our rarest butterflies and moths on the section of North Downs between Guildford and Dorking.  The Small Blue butterfly is now restricted to a few colonies around Merrow and Guildford and a good colony at Box Hill.  Through appropriate management it is hoped to encourage this species to spread, as well as other rarities including the stunning Adonis Blue.  Fiona joined Butterfly Conservation in July 2017 to manage this project and also as a part-time Moth Conservation Officer, working primarily on the very rare Barberry Carpet Moth.  The talk will be preceded by a short AGM.

Thursday 13th December 2018

Return to Spitzbergen – illustrated talk by Audrey Olley

After retiring from her banking career, Audrey started her adventures trailing in the late 1960s crossing the Sahara by Land Rover.  Since then she has travelled extensively around the world particularly in the Far East, India, Africa, South America, the Arctic and Antarctic.  This talk is a spectacular journey up to the Arctic Circle to find polar bears and walrus with wonderful scenery viewing glaciers, bird cliffs, whales and reindeer.

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

Thursday 24th January 2019

All about Badgers – illustrated talk by Dave Williams

Dave was one of the founder members of West Surrey Badger Group, which began as part of WSNHS, and is currently Field Officer and Secretary.  He has worked for badgers for 30 years, was Chairman of Badger Trust for 10 years, and was Mammal Officer for Surrey Wildlife Trust for 12 years.

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

Members £3 Non-Members £5*

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.

Previous evening meetings

Thursday 22nd February 2018

The Jewel Hunter

Illustrated talk by Chris Goodie    The talk details the adventures involved in trying to see all of the world’s 32 species of pitta (or Jewel Thrush) in a single year.  It includes the derring-do details of being chased by an Asian Sun Bear in Sumatra, narrowly avoiding being bitten by a Wagler’s Pit Viper in Sulawesi, and running out of petrol on a small boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Along the way the Jewel Hunter encounters a stunning array of birds (including pittas), animals, people and places during a year spent travelling to the most beautiful rainforests of southeast Asia, Australia, Uganda and Zambia.  Chris has been birding since he was twelve years old.  A lifelong RSPB member, in 2009 he followed his dream and went to the rainforests of Asia, before returning to write the story of his adventures.  His book entitled “The Jewel Hunter” was published in August 2010.  A beautiful book about beautiful birds, it’s no wonder “The Jewel Hunter” was one of the best-selling titles at the 2010 British Birdwatching Fair.

Non-members £5*

Thursday 8th March 2018

(NB:  Please note date!)

Fungi make the world go round

Illustrated talk by Professor D L Hawksworth CBE    David is a mycologist and environmental scientist, and a recognised world authority on the diversity, systematics and ecology of fungi, especially microfungi and lichens.  He is particularly known for studies and surveys of fungal diversity, and the bio-indication of air pollution.  In his talk David will explain the importance of fungi in diverse aspects of human well-being and also ecosystem processes from the global to the local level.  David is married to Forensic Ecologist and Palynologist Professor Patricia E J Wiltshire.

Non-members £5*

Thursday 26th April 2018

Studying the deep ocean 
lllustrated talk by Martin Angel
This talk explores how we research the deep ocean, and by taking a photographic journey down to depths of 5000m shows how the characteristics of the plankton and fishes change with increasing depth. Martin Angel will dispel the myth that we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the deep ocean. Some of the commoner species that inhabit the water will be illustrated and their natural history explored. Survival in a boundless, 3-D, dark environment poses very different problems to those we encounter on land.



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



September 2018

Last year unleashed some catastrophic weather across the world. At the beginning of 2017, Australia experienced one of the hottest summers on record in Sydney and Brisbane, followed by a killer summer heatwave across southern Europe and wildfires triggered by heat in several places worldwide. This has been eclipsed by this year’s weather, with out-of-control fires in many parts of the world, in Canada, USA, Australia, Greece, Portugal, etc. At the same time, the 2017 monsoon season brought considerable rains to the Indian subcontinent, and resulted in devastating floods in parts of India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh (one of the most flood vulnerable countries in the world), causing more than 1,000 deaths, but this has been much worse this year, with scenes of utter devastation and suffering, especially in Kerala, Southwest India.

Let us not confuse the difference between weather and climate; briefly, the difference is time. Weather is the conditions in the atmosphere over a short period of time. Climate is how the atmosphere behaves over a longer period of time. When we talk about climate change, that generally means changes in long-term averages of daily levels of temperature and rainfall. So we may see a change in average or typical weather over a number of years, but we can still experience extremes in any one year.

We had some very heavy rains in the spring and this meant that farmers delayed sowing early crops, (very few swifts arriving) and then the early summer period of very dry and hot weather meant that there was not enough moisture for these crops to grow. There was no grass for the animals to eat and farmers have had to break into their winter storage far too early for comfort. Scotland this year has had its highest ever recorded temperature of 33.2C degrees in Motherwell.

The highest temperature I have ever experienced was when I visited Lisbon in the 1960s with my parents where it reached 120F (49C) with forest fires in the surrounding hills. Then an unprecedented event but this has been happening every year in Lisbon over the past few summers. The summer drought has brought devastation to many gardens and lawns and many a quiet wish and prayer was invoked for some ‘much needed rain’ for the sake of the gardeners and farmers. I remember a pithy pearl of wisdom from the pulpit in my youth where the priest said “When you pray for rain, take great care to specify how much.” As I write this, the rain is falling and we have had some very heavy downpours recently, with new fears that what’s left of the harvest might be ruined.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, an international body set up to assess the science of climate change, we can continue to expect an increase in the average global temperature. That means we will be experiencing warmer years in the future, so this is the state of affairs we must get used to; increasing temperatures will give rise to heavier rainfall events, with increased risk of flooding; higher sea levels, with larger storm waves putting a strain on the UK’s coastal defences; more and longer-lasting heat waves.

On the other hand, if the increasing temperature continues to melt the polar ice caps, the cold Labrador current down the eastern seaboard of America could become weaker, thus affecting how it forces the Gulf Stream into the North Atlantic Drift and our climate could become much colder, more in line with that of New York, for instance.

None of this is likely to happen tomorrow, however, but governments need to recognise and absorb that extreme weather across the globe is likely to become more common and start to adapt accordingly, rather than treat it as a shocking one-off event. Otherwise we risk increasing loss of life and environmental damage in the future.

Andy Stribley