Category Archives: News

Seasonal NatHistFest

As we were not able to hold its annual Conversazione and NatHistFest in April we are planning a small online Seasonal NatHistFest at 7:30 pm on 10th December 2020. This will take the form of short, 5 minute, talks, and a quiz. It will also launch the online NatHistFest on the new CNHS website.

Please email events@cnhs.org.uk if you would like to give a short talk – there will only be time for three or or four talks (by Zoom).

NatHistFest exhibits can be a set of up to six photos with captions or a poster in the form of a pdf. The subject of your display should relate to natural history but does not have to be seasonal or specifically Cambridgeshire. Each exhibit will have its own page on the website with the title of the exhibit, name of exhibitor and any other details you wish to make public. Photos and pdfs should be sent as files smaller than 5MB.

The NatHistFest will be ‘opened’ on 10th December and then remain accessible. As NatHistFest will remain open until at least the end of 2020, exhibits will continue to be added during December. Please send them to website@cnhs.org.uk as soon as they are ready so they can be added to the website, but they will not be made public until 10th December.

We look forward to seeing a great variety of displays!

The science of pollination Thursday 26th November

The next talk will be given by Hamish Symington. He points out that around a third of our food depends on pollinating insects, but they are in decline, while the global population is estimated to hit 10 billion by 2050. In his talk he explores how food relies on insects, and how research at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge aims to make flowers more efficient at being pollinated.

The talk is ONLINE via Zoom from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Members will be emailed login details nearer the time. To join the Society click here, or contact webmaster [at] cnhs.org.uk to be added to the email list for notification of events. Please make sure that your spam filter (yahoo email addresses in particular) does not reject the messages.

The NatHistCam Project 23rd November

The Cambridge Group of the Wildlife Trust BCN announce that they will be starting a series of online talks later this month. These will be hosted over Zoom and cost £2.50 for all Wildlife Trust members and £4.00 for non-members, with all profits going to the Wildlife Trust. The first talk will be on Monday 23rd November, starting at 7.00pm and is titled “Online talk: The NatHistCam Project, with Mark Hill“.

You will need to book this in advance via the Wildlife Trust BCN events page.   Mark will explore some of the new findings of the NatHistCam Project around Cambridge. NatHistCam was set up in 2016 to study the Natural History of Cambridge. From 2016 to 2019 the project recorded and collated data on a wide variety of organisms, including mosses, vascular plants, birds, butterflies, moths, dragonflies and mammals. It also surveyed the weeds of Cambridge gardens and the plants growing in streets and on walls. We are now writing up the results and this talk will give a flavour of what we found!

Mark Hill came to Cambridge in 1946 and can remember when the New Bit of Coe Fen was covered in Nissen huts to house the families of Polish airmen. He is a botanist and ecologist with a particular interest in mosses. He was president of the Cambridge Natural History Society from 2014 to 2016 and during that time proposed that we should study the natural history of the city.

CNHS AGM 2020

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

Highland Wildlife 22nd October

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.

Crested Tit

CNHS Autumn update

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.

NEOWISe & Noctilucent clouds

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.