The next talk will be on Thursday 12th November from 7:30 – 9:00 pm. Helen Moore will talk about some of the plants found in your garden which you might not thought of as being poisonous, wild plants which may be eaten or touched in error with harmful effects, and plants used in herbal/traditional medicines some of which have given rise to therapeutics used today.
ONLINE via Zoom. Members will be emailed login details nearer the time.
The CNHS AGM will continue on Thursday, October 29 at 7:30pm by zoom.
When you join you will be put into a “waiting room” and will not be allowed in until shortly before the AGM starts. When you are let in your audio and video will be off. Please do not try and switch them on, as this may interfere with the sound for participants who have low bandwidth connections. If you are a regular zoom user make sure that you are on the latest version – you can check for updates when you click on your icon in the top right corner – the latest version is 5.3.2. It will be possible to ask questions, either by using the “chat” feature, or by “raising your hand”, which can be done through the “participants” button at the bottom of the screen. When asked for your question your sound and video will be set to on for the duration of the question. If the attendance is low, audio and video will be switched on for all.
This meeting continues the AGM adjourned from 2020 April 30 and covers the year 2019 April to 2020 March. It is intended that the verbal reports will be no more than 200 words and the written reports are at ‘About CNHS‘ with password protection. The two reviews will be illustrated with images of or from events. Members are welcome to nominate additional members to the Council as there are several vacancies.
Apologies – these can be sent to Jonathan Shanklin by email Minutes of the 2019 AGM General Secretary’s report – Post vacant Membership Secretary’s report – Simon Mentha pp Hilary Pounsett Programme Secretary’s report – Post vacant Publicity Secretary’s report – Post vacant Treasurer’s report – Simon Mentha Election of Council and Officers. These are currently : Officers President: Duncan Mackay Vice President: Kevin Hand Vice President, General Recorder, Webmaster until new website launched: Jonathan Shanklin General Secretary, Publicity Secretary: Vacant Membership Secretary: Hilary Pounsett Programme Secretary: Vacant Treasurer : Simon Mentha Archivists: Monica Frisch (also Conversazione/NatHistFest Organiser), Henry Tribe Zoological Recorder: Toby Carter Botanical Recorder: Charles Turner Elected Members Harriet Allen Sam Buckton Anita Joysey Paul Mardon (Facebook Promotion, Assistant Conversazione Organiser) John O’Boyle CUNS & ARUWS representatives Sophia Upton (Anglia Ruskin University Wildlife Society) Alice Edney (Cambridge University Nature Society) Illustrated reviews Review of the outdoor events – Jonathan Shanklin President’s review of the Year – Duncan Mackay The new web pages – Monica Frisch AOB
The next online talk is on 22nd October when Roy Atkins, a guide with Speyside Wildlife based in the Cairngorms National Park, will give a talk on “Highland Wildlife” during which he will talk about and show pictures of the special birds, mammals and other wildlife of the highlands of Scotland.
We have continued with limited CNHS field studies over the summer, but these have been restricted to a group of six, so CNHS members have had first call.
With the restriction on numbers for events, regular notification of them only goes to members, so do consider joining the CNHS.
The restrictions will mean that there cannot be any CNHS meetings at the DAB this autumn, and we are planning zoom meetings as an alternative. Again these may need to be limited to members only.
The latest edition of Nature in Cambridgeshire was published in June and contains a wide range of articles and reports on local natural history. These cover microfungi, flora and bryophytes and the Devil’s Ditch, Fen Ragwort, Spotted Flycatchers, Adders and Slow Worms, Coe Fen, the Violet Carpenter Bee and Arthur’s Meadow amongst other topics. See http://www.natureincambridgeshire.org.uk/index.html for information about the publication.
A bright comet is becoming more readily visible from the northern hemisphere. It is named NEOWISE after the satellite that discovered it and is given the designation of 2020 F3 as it was the third comet to be discovered in the second half of March. It will be very easy to see with binoculars, which may help to find it at first, but you should be able to see it with no equipment at all. It has a tail several degrees long, which will make it obvious when you have spotted it. In the evening twilight (roughly 10:30 pm in Cambridge) it is low in in the north-north-west about 7 degrees up. It will remain visible all night until swamped in the dawn sky around 2:40 am when it will have moved round to the north-north-east. Each evening it will be a little higher in the sky and become visible a little earlier as the nights draw in, however it will also steadily get fainter. Because it is quite low down you will need a clear northern horizon to spot it.
Noctilucent Clouds, also known as Polar Mesospheric Clouds form at about 80 km up in the atmosphere. This part of the atmosphere is coldest during the summer months, hence allowing clouds to form. Because they are so high up, the clouds remain illuminated long after sunset (or before sunrise) and glow with a beautiful silvery-blue colour. The colour comes from scattering in the ozone layer (at about 20 km altitude) during the long path of the sunlight through the atmosphere. The clouds are most frequently seen low towards the northern horizon, though occasionally much higher up.
The clouds often can’t be distinguished from the bright sky background until an hour or more after sunset, so for Cambridge that means 22:00 – 22:30 in the evening at the moment. The chances of seeing them are even higher before sunrise, but you would have to be up at 2 in the morning. Another factor that improves the chances of seeing them is solar activity (or lack of it) and we are currently near sunspot minimum in the 11-year cycle which means that the atmosphere is a bit colder at 80 km altitude than it is at solar maximum. The season for seeing the clouds lasts until early August.
January 1. The traditional New Year’s Day outing took place under mild, overcast skies. There had been frosts in November, but December was generally mild and wet. Plants in flower were generally few and far between, with the most frequently flowering species being Veronica persica (Common Field Speedwell). We started around the information centre, pond and copse, somewhat surprisingly finding one plant of Erigeron acris (Blue Fleabane) still in flower. We walked along the spine road, then through Middle Green to the Martin Car Park area. By the pond we found the previously reported Isatis tinctorum (Woad) and a Teasel, which was not as previously reported D. pilosus (Small Teasel) but D. strigosus (Yellow Teasel). We had our picnic lunch in the Barn, then headed up Red Meadow Hill for a view across Cambridge. On the way down we added Sinapis alba (White Mustard) in flower. Continuing via the permissive tracks we eventually re-joined the spine road. A small group continued round Rowans Field and the Orchard, finding a couple more species in flower. By the time we returned to the information centre we had made 194 records of 133 species, of which 23 were in flower. This was the lowest total since we began counting species in flower, and well down on the 58 found last year, and the median number of 35.
The latest detailed Government guidance unfortunately means that meetings in May cannot go ahead. This means that the visit to Coton Countryside Reserve on May 27 is cancelled. CNHS will review the position again in June to see if the next meeting can go ahead or not.
Walks are allowed for exercise, so it is a good opportunity to make the most of your local environment without the distraction of the roar of traffic. Birds are nesting, butterflies on the wing and plants are coming into flower. If you do make records make sure that they get to your local recorder (see https://www.cperc.org.uk/links.php), or send them via iRecord (but make sure you use your real name rather than an alias) or to CPERC at https://www.cperc.org.uk/submit-records/
For botanical recording, see the information at https://legacy.bas.ac.uk/met/jds/cnhs/vc29.htm which includes recording guidelines, record cards, lists of species, both common and rare, found in Cambridgeshire, and more.
Cambridge Natural History Society has a new website but we are still working on this, so please accept our apologies for sections where information is incomplete and for any links that do not work. Please bookmark our website and do check back from time to time, as it is one of the ways we keep members and others informed of our activities.
If you find links that do not work, or if you have events you would like added to the diary, please email website(at)cnhs.org.uk