All posts by Monica Frisch

Talk Thursday 19th

The talk on Thursday 19th October will be online. It will be given by Peter Exley of the RSPB and the title is People power for nature: the challenges and 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 this 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.

The talk will start at 7:30 p.m. promptly.

Those on the CNHS mailing lists will be sent details of the Zoom link, which is different each meeting. If you want to receive the link, sign up by emailing

You will join the meeting in a waiting room and will be let in at 7:30pm.  Your video and audio will be off when you join.  You will be able to use chat or Q&A to ask questions at the end of the talk, or you can raise a virtual hand from “reactions”.  The event may be recorded and Society members who cannot join the event on Thursday will then be sent a link to allow them to hear it at their leisure.  If you are not a member this is a good reason to join. Membership details here.

12th October: Swallowtails talk

The CNHS Autumn Programme opens on Thursday 12th October with a talk Swallowtails: Keeping them safe at home and abroad.

A British Swallowtail
photo © Mel Collins

The speaker, Dr Mark Collins, 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.

Members free; non-members £2
To be added the mailing list for events: email webmaster [at] To become a member: click here for details.

Autumn events

Field studies

The field studies in the Great Kneighton area,including Hobson’s Park and the Addenbrooke’s site, continue but there have been some changes to the dates. They now are:

September 24 – field studies, galls & lichens, 2pm
October 15 – field studies, fungi, 2pm
November 5 – field studies, bryophytes, 11am

Details of meeting places will be circulated to those on his mailing list by Jonathan Shanklin. To join the mailing list please email him via webmaster [at] to be added to the list. He points out that Outlook has started to reject CNHS emails as spam for several members. If you are not receiving our weekly emails it is up to you to check with your service provider and adjust your settings.

In addition to the field studies, there is a Fungal Foray at the Botanic Gardens on October 14th.

Autumn talks

These will recommence with an in-person talk, in the David Attenborough Building, on October 12th. More details will be posted soon.

Talks will then be alternately on-line via Zoom and in person. The in-person talks are October 12th and 26th, and November 9th and 23rd.

A Seasonal Social is being planned for December 7th.

104th Conversazione Friday 14th & Saturday 15th April

The Cambridge Natural History Society’s annual Conversazione, takes place in person in the Elementary Laboratory of the Department of Zoology. Displays from local organisations and naturalists will be set out, in the Elementary Lab of the Department of Zoology, with most exhibitors present in person to discuss their displays with visitors.

ALL WELCOME, suitable for all ages, DO COME ALONG – admission free.

Opening times:

Friday 14th April 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Saturday 15th April 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

April events

The main natural history event in April is of course the Conversazione, our 104th, with displays on a great variety of natural history topics. It is open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday 14th and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday 15th April. It takes place in the Elementary Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Downing St, Cambridge.

Photos from the 2019 Conversazione and previous ones can be seen on our Facebook Page – Click Photos, Click Albums, Scroll down to and click on e.g. “Conversazione 2019 Photo Album” to see a record of a joyous and fascinating event.  Or click on

It’s not too late to say you want to exhibit! More details and booking forms are here.

Slightly later in April is the Cambridge Literary Festival 19-th -23rd April. The programme includes “six fantastic events focusing on environmentalism, sustainability and the clumate which are sure to be of interest! The events are diverse, ranging from Gaia Vince‘s discussion of migration in light of the climate emergency to Sarah Raven‘s advice for those who wish to grow their own food to Peter Wohlleben‘s children’s event about the natural world around us.”

The future of historic landscapes: the limits to rewilding

The Museum of Cambridge are hosting a virtual talk by Tom Williamson of UEA.

The title of the talk is ‘The Future of Historic Landscapes: The Limits to Rewilding’ and it’s on Wednesday 22nd March 2023 at 7pm.

Tickets are ‘donate as you feel’, and all goes towards supporting the Museum.

The link is here:

Museum of Cambridge 2-3 Castle Street, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom, CB3 0AQ Tel: +44 (0) 1223 355159

Forthcoming talks

Members will be emailed login details nearer the time. To be added the mailing list for events: email webmaster [at]

Thursday 16th March at 7:30 p.m. on Zoom

Climate stories from yew trees

Tatiana Bebchuk will talk about her PhD project which is using tree rings in sub-fossil yew trees to reconstruct environmental and climate conditions in the past. She hopes this research will help to explain why yew trees disappeared from the records in south eastern England 4000 years ago.

Tatiana and sub-fossil yew trees

Thursday 23rd March at 7:30 p.m. on Zoom

Lost chalk streams of Cambridge and Newmarket

Kevin Hand will talk about chalk streams in Cambridge and Newmarket, where they are now, where they used to be and what may happen to them in the future.

Thursday 30th March at 7:30 on Zoom

Cool as a caterpillar

Esme Ashe-Jepson will talk about her research into how caterpillars cope with temperature change and why this, and related research by her colleagues, is important for butterfly conservation.

Conversazione back in person

We are delighted to announce that the Conversazione will be in-person on 14th & 15th April 2023 in the Department of Zoology.

For over a hundred years, Cambridge Natural History Society has held an annual exhibition in the Department of Zoology. It is traditionally called ‘The Conversazione’ because it is a social event where those attending can not only look at displays but also talk to the exhibitors.

At our 100th event in 2019 we had over 100 exhibits, from about 70 members and mainly local organisations. They covered the whole range of natural history topics, ranging from Biodiversity of Mediterranean montado (wood pasture) landscapes to Wildlife in my garden, a diversity of fauna, including bees, earthworms, larks, leaf-miners, moths, snails, and snakes. Other displays related to the work of local organisations, the NatHistCam project whose book has now been published, trees on the Science Park, edible exotic fungi and much more. The programme, and those of previous events, can be downloaded here.

As the first in-person Conversazione since 2019 we want to make it a really great event, with lots of hands-on displays. Please put the date in your diaries and start thinking about things you could exhibit.

Autumn events

Now the summer holidays are – almost – over many organisations are starting to promote their autumn programmes. Brief information will be added to the CNHS Diary but fuller details will be on the organisations’ own websites.

Cambridge Geological Society talks are all going to be in person, on the 2nd Monday of every month from September 12th onwards. They will be at a new venue: Hall 1 in St Andrew’s Centre Histon  at 7:30pm (doors open at 7:00 pm). Non CGS members are charged at £3.00. Their list of events can be found at

The first autumn talk organised by the Cambridge Group of the Wildlife Trust will be at the end of September, probably online.

Cambridge Natural History Society’s own programme of talks will start in early October and will include the 3rd online NatHistFest.

Summer excursions

As well as the monthly field studies visits to sites in central Cambridge, Jonathan has arranged a couple of evening visits.

On Thursday June 30 we will visit Magog Down and on Thursday, July 28 the destination will be Wandlebury.

The Magog Trust bought 66 hectares of arable land near Wandlebury in 1969 and have been converting it back to chalk grassland and enhancing it for nature conservation ever since.

Wandlebury Country Park is owned and managed by Cambridge Past Present and Future. It includes an Iron Age hillfort and the stables from an 18th century mansion.

Both sites provide many opportunities for walks and are rich in wildlife, with areas of chalk grassland, woodland and other habitats.

Jonathan will send details of these meetings nearer the time to those on the CNHS mailing lists .