Category Archives: News

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.

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:

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

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.

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.

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.

Seasonal Social

The Cambridge Natural History Society Seasonal Social will take place on Thursday 8th December in the David Attenborough Building from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

It is an opportunity to catch up with your fellow members and guests over a glass and light snack.

Tickets costing £5 are now on sale – email to reserve yours.

The David Attenborough Building is on the New Museums Site, off Pembroke St, Cambridge CB2 3QZ. There is no car parking on site, but plenty of cycle racks.

To reach the David Attenborough Building enter the site through the archway on Pembroke Street and go up the flight of steps in front of you. The entrance to the DAB is on your right, past the entrance to the cafe.

The Seasonal Social will be in the Common Room on the first floor.