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).*
February – April 2020
Thursday 27th February 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 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
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 28th May 2020 at 7.00pm
The Jovial Sailor, Portsmouth Road, Ripley, Woking GU23 6EZ – for drinks only.
Sunday 14th June 2020 at 12 noon
Picnic at Polesden Lacey. Meet at entrance. Bring your own food/drink. Picnic will be followed by a stroll around the gardens. (Please note there will be an entrance fee if you are not a member of the National Trust.)
PREVIOUS EVENING MEETINGS
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!
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.
Occasional walks are organised from time to time. They will be publicised here – so watch this space for further details!
Visit to Warnham Nature Reserve – Saturday 14 March
This excellent wildlife reserve is located off the A24 a few miles north of Horsham and is owned by the local council. The 92 acre site consists of a range of different grassland and marshes and woodland habitats adjacent to a 17 acre former millpond with reedbeds and islands. There are four bird hides, one of which is tucked into the wood where a range of feeders attract woodland birds. There should be a good number of wetland birds and the kingfisher is often seen (but no ‘money-back’ guarantee). For the energetic the nature trail continues around the lake.
Adult entry costs £2, children are free and there is a free car park. Most of the reserve is accessible by wheelchairs in dry conditions. The visitor centre has toilets, a café serving hot and cold drinks and snacks, a gallery, second hand book library, outside picnic tables and a harvest mice vivarium. It should appeal to children. There is a vibrant ‘Friends’ association which offers an informative website.
We would like to make a visit here as attractive to as wide a range of members as possible and so rather than make this visit a guided walk you might like to bring family and children/grandchildren, friends, etc. to enjoy it at your own pace. The reserve opens at 10am and we suggest that we meet up at 10.30 to get a feel for the site before moving off either together or independently.
Driving south on the A24, turn left at the roundabout towards Horsham on the B2237 (Warnham Road), and the reserve is located on the left (postcode RH12 2RA).
For information on the day, please call Alan Bowen on 07923 416992.
Seals and the Cleaner River Thames
I thought that I might continue with the general upbeat tone of Andy Stribley’s piece in the September newsletter as it’s heartening to have some good news about the revival of a species, particularly as so many of the reports we see these days relate to the unfortunate consequences of man-made changes to the environment and habitats.
A recent report from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) reviewed the status of the River Thames. In 1957 the ZSL had declared the river to be ‘biologically dead’. War damage and general disrepair combined with toxic discharges from industry, resulted in the tidal reaches of the river being compared to an open sewer. Recovery since then has been gradual and the result of repairs to the sewer system and tighter regulation on discharges, including the draining into the river system of fertilizers and pesticides from farmland. Oddly, one of the contributory factors in the gradual improving quality of Thames water has been the switch from film to digital photography, and the resultant decrease in pollution from toxic silver. Not quite the often quoted ‘butterfly’ effect but the relationship of cause and outcome is pretty remote: so, take a bow, you digital photographers.
One of the outcomes of this improved river outflow has been on the range of fish found in the estuary, now up to 120 species. The impact can be seen in the number of porpoises, dolphins and, recently, ‘Benny’ the beluga whale, being spotted. Additionally, this increase in the food supply has been found to have a significant impact on the seal population of the Thames estuary, and particularly on the breeding population of harbour (common) seals. A recent aerial survey recorded 1,104 harbour seals, including 138 pups, as well as 2,406 of the more common grey seal. The latter breed elsewhere and come to the estuary to feed, but the harbour seal is special in that it is able to breed in these tidal waters. ZSL says that this is because harbour seal pups can swim within hours of birth and so are unaffected by tidal movements: grey seal pups have to go through an initial moult before swimming and so the adults prefer to breed on dry sandy banks.
I looked at a few web pages about harbour seals and not one mentioned that the Thames estuary is one of their breeding sites. This gives some understanding of why ZSL is quite so buoyed up by the results of its recent surveys.