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CNHS talks in November

Thursday 9th November: A biodiverse city
6:45 p.m. in the David Attenborough Building and online
Guy Belcher, Biodiversity Officer for Cambridge City Council, will talk about the City’s Biodiversity Strategy.

Thursday 16th November: Fieldwork: A Dendrochronologist’s
perspective on Science, Life, and Adventure

7:30 p.m. online
Paul Krusic will speak on the challenges of finding trees that have not been disturbed by humans, from which a pristine record of environmental change is captured in the annual variations of tree growth. Where do such forests exist and what does it take to get there? These forests are where he does his research, from the Himalaya to the
Tropics, using dendrochronology to learn more about environmental history and how it relates to climate change.

Thursday 23rd November: The life of the Cam: In sickness and in health
6:45 p.m. in the David Attenborough Building and online
Stephen Tomkins, from the Cam Valley Forum, will talk about what he has learned from trying to help improve our local river. Over abstraction and other changes have been harmful – we have a very sick river: abused by our own un-natural history. Wetland wildlife has a huge capacity to bounce back from near extinction, but that requires much more of all of us to help it improve.

Thursday 30th November: How the Andes influence Earth’s climate
7:30 p.m. online
Morag Hunter will talk about the interaction between the uplift of the Andes and carbon dioxide budgets in the atmosphere. She will describe the geology and outline the chemical weathering of the rocks found in the Cañete Basin, western Peru.

Talk Thursday 12th

Dr Mark Collins will give the first talk in the CNHS autumn programme on Thursday 12th October at 6:45 p.m.

The speaker is the author of Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World and Chair of the Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust. He will give an illustrated talk about the Trust’s conservation activities in Borneo, Bhutan, Fiji, Australia, Jamaica and elsewhere, news about an upcoming conference on the Apollo butterflies and their relatives worldwide, concluding with a detailed appraisal of the existential risks facing the British Swallowtail in the Norfolk Broads, and what options we have to keep the species safe.

This talk will be in person, in the David Attenborough Building, Pembroke St, Cambridge CB2 3QZ

It will start at 6:45 p.m. Please arrive in good time or you may not be able to get into the building.

ALL WELCOME Members free; non-members £2

The talk on Thursday 19th October will be online at 7:30 p.m.

People power for nature: the challenges and the opportunities

Peter Exley has worked for the RSPB, for over 25 years, on building peoples’ support for nature, from campaigns to communities. He is currently involved in making the charity’s 170 nature reserves more visitable. In his talk he will look at the barriers, issues and opportunities, and why understanding people is essential to saving nature, using examples of projects he has worked on, from saving seabirds on islands to creating new nature reserves in the Somerset Levels.

Online via Zoom. Members will be emailed login details nearer the time.

To be added the mailing list for events: email mailings [at]
To become a member: click here for details.

Climate action via citizen science!

We have been sent information about an Earthwatch Europe event at the Five Trees Tiny Forest in Chesterton. It’s on Friday 11th August, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and the organisers say “We will be counting bugs and butterflies, measuring trees and enjoying being among the young saplings! The data collected will feed into future understandings of urban tree planting and re-forestation, ensuring best practice is rooted in science.”

The Five Trees Tiny Forest can be accessed from Fen Road or Cheney Way. The exact location is : 52°13’16.6″N 0°09’11.2″E/

The event is FREE and can be enjoyed by children and adults of all ages. You can join for an hour, half an hour, or the entire event, it’s flexible and completely up to you.

For more details, and if you want to register, go to Eventbrite:

White Fen Bioblitz

On Saturday 8 th July, the National Trust are having a Bioblitz at White Fen, just north of Anglesey Abbey.

The idea behind a BioBlitz is for wildlife experts and the wider public to work together to find and identify in the area as many species of plants and animals as possible. The records collected during a BioBlitz form part of a genuine scientific survey of the area. The event is an informal and fun way for young people and other members of the public to learn alongside experts and
share and develop their enthusiasm for nature.”

From 8.00am – 4.00pm they will finding and recording wildlife with local experts and the wider public.

Activities timetable:
8am Moth and small mammal traps open.
10am Bird/Birdsong Walk
11:30am Dragonfly Walk
2pm Plants/Wildflower Walk

Access instructions (provided by the National Trust)

There is limited parking at White Fen – follow White Fen Droveway.
From B1102, drive through Lode village (Lode Road becomes High Street becomes Station Road becomes Fen Road), turn right along
White Fen Droveway (CB25 9HE) and follow to the ‘T’-junction at the end, turn right and you will come to a sign saying White Fen and
a line of bollards along the cycle path – parking is just beyond the bollards.

Why not cycle or walk to us – the Lodes Way (NCN11) crosses White Fen.
What Three Words:

June events

The Hobson’s Conduit Trust are holding their 5th BioBlitz on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd June. It will be at at Darien Meadow, bordered by Hobson’s Brook, by kind permission of the Master and Fellows of Emmanuel College. On Friday evening and Saturday morning Trustees will conduct guided walks along Hobson’s Brook and Conduit, while experts lead a programme of mini field expeditions.

The guided walk along the Hobson’s Brook, at 5pm on Friday 2nd June will be for those who wish to find out more about the Hobson’s Brook/Vicars Brook system and the problems of urban drainage.  It will be led by Dr. Steve Boreham, the expert in all local matters geological, hydrological, and ecological. Meet at Darien Meadow off Long Road. The full programme is here.

The Cambridge Flora Group have a visit to Devil’s Ditch planned for Wednesday 7th June. Details will be circulated by Jonathan Shanklin to those on his list.

On Saturday 17th June Guy Belcher and Vic Smith (Cambridge City Council Biodiversity Officers), and Iain Webb, (Wildlife Trust) will be leading a guided walk of the grassland restoration trials on Coldham’s, Barnwell, Stourbridge and Midsummer Commons. Meet at 2pm by the Cromwell Road /  Coldham’s Lane junction on Coldham’s Common, The route on foot will be a mainly off road loop between the sites. It will aim to return to Coldham’s by 4.30. People can obviously drop off or join as they wish.

The Cambridge Group of the Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs & Northants have their annual visit to East Pit to enjoy the chalk grassland flowers on Monday 26th June. More information on the Trust website .

Grassland restoration

On 17th June there’s a guided walk of the grassland restoration trials on Coldham’s, Barnwell, Stourbridge and Midsummer Commons. It will be led by Guy Belcher and Vic Smith (Cambridge City Council Biodiversity Officers), and Iain Webb, (Wildlife Trust) . 

Meet at 2pm by the Cromwell Road /  Coldham’s Lane junction on Coldham’s Common and walking a mainly off road loop between the sites. Aiming to return to Coldham’s by 4.30. People can obviously drop off or join as they wish.

2nd March in Geography Department

The venue for the talk THIS THURSDAY 2nd March has reverted to the Large Lecture Theatre in the Department of Geography not as previously announced Kings College.

The talk, on MOTHS, will start promptly at 6:45 p.m. Please make sure to arrive on time as there will be no-one on the door to let you in once the talk starts.

Mimas tiliae photo © Matthew Gandy

Matthew Gandy, Professor of Geography will introduce some of the cultural and scientific aspects to moths ranging from themes such as mimicry and literary representations to recent concerns with light pollution and mass invertebrate decline.

More spring talks

The spring programme continues on Thursday 16th February with a talk by Joshua Pike: Reconstructing past abrupt climate change in Patagonia. In it, he will explore how annually laminated sediments and tephra (volcanic ash) have been used to understand how the former Patagonian Ice Sheet responded to abrupt changes in climate during the transition from the Last Glacial Maximum into the Holocene.

This talk will be online by Zoom at 7:30 p.m. The link will be circulated to those on the CNHS mailing list. For online talks, your video and audio will be off when you join in order to give maximum bandwidth to the speaker. At the end of the talk chat will be enabled to ask questions, or you can raise your virtual hand.

The talk may be recorded and if so, members who cannot join the event, or who wish to hear it again, will be sent a link to allow them to hear it at their leisure.

Change of venue

The talk on Thursday 2nd March, on Moths by Matthew Gandy, will now be in the Audit Room, the Old Lodge, Kings College CB2 1ST (not the Department of Geography). The talk is at 6:45 p.m. and please make sure you arrive in time as it may not be possible for late-comers to gain admission. Enter by the porters’ lodge in King’s Parade, the Old Lodge is just two minutes away, on the left of the great lawn.

Spring talks

The CNHS programme of talks this spring will start on Thursday 2nd February with a talk by Mike Maunder, which will take place at 6:45 pm in the Lecture Theatre in the Department of Geography on the Downing Site. The talk will also be available online for those unable to attend in person. The link will be emailed to those on the CNHS mailing list.

The talk is entitled 500 years of exhibiting biodiversity: from cabinets of curiosity to interpreting today’s extinction crisis. In it he will explore how today’s biodiversity exhibits (museums, aquaria, botanic gardens and zoos) have evolved over the last 500 years and how they are responding to fundamental challenge of the collapse of nature. The lecture is based on Mike’s previous work as a conservationist working with institutions exhibiting biodiversity and his research for a book on this topic. As a society we are still drawn to the exotic composition and super abundance of biodiversity exhibits, yet those exhibitions are in a constant evolution as their scientific, business, ethical and cultural context is in constant flux.

The Department of Geography is easily reached from Downing Place. Click here for a map (in a new window) of the Downing Site showing the location. Parking is not available on the Downing Site.

The talk on Thursday 2nd March will also be in person in the Department of Geography when Matthew Gandy will talk about moths. The other talks in February and March will be by Zoom at the later time of 7:30 p.m.