Posts for September, 2023

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  1. 5th November 2023

The Scottish Highlands have some exceptional wildlife – which is why we are all here! Some of the birds and mammals are very different from what we are used to elsewhere in the country. And it can feel like being thrown into the deep end trying to identify these beasties. So, in this Mike will introduce the birds (and some mammals) we all want to see, with particular emphasis on how to identify them at this time of year (late autumn). Expect ID tips for eagles, grouse, divers, grebes, sea-ducks, auks, Crested Tit and some LBJs, as well as seals, dolphins and the not so challenging Red Squirrel…

Bird migration – why, where, when and how. Or do they migrate at all? A look at early theories of bird migration, the development of our knowledge through bird observatories, ringing and most recently, radio/satellite tagging. Perhaps we shall never quite understand the marvel of migration but it is fascinating to try.

This popular talk takes us back in time drawing on visits to Egypt and China. We go back some 3000 years BC for our first look at man’s association with birds depicted in some amazing tomb paintings, moving rapidly through to the 17th and 19th centuries and the resulting changes in land use. Finally we look at the changes in our relationship and appreciation of birds over the last 100 years or so using sites from the UK to Antarctica as examples.

Mya will talk about her first trip abroad, which happened to be a birding visit to Colombia in South America last Summer. She will give a summary, day-by-day, of the amazing variety of birds she saw, accompanied by a selection of her photographs. The talk will give a unique perspective of birding in the country with the highest diversity of birdlife, and definitely encourage you to put it on your bucket list!

The area around Tarifa and Gibraltar is both bottleneck and a migration spectacle when conditions are favourable with literally thousands of birds passing overhead. There are also many other local sites of great ornithological interest as well as the straights of Gibraltar acting as a cetacean hotspot. This talk will look at them all.

The Hortabagy National Park is in the Great Plain in the centre of Hungary and is a critical stopping off place for species on their migration southwards. Dotterel can be present in large numbers and Montague Harriers hunt the grasslands. Sakar Falcons seek out Susliks before they hibernate. Winters are long and cold and many species move into towns to find food including Long-eared Owls and several species of woodpeckers. Hawfinches are common in the old woods feeding on hornbeam seeds. Man-made fishponds are dotted with wildfowl including huge numbers of geese including Red-breasted and the endangered Lesser Whitefront. White-tailed Eagles compete with Otters and gulls.Perhaps the most memorable sights and sounds is thousands of Common Cranes coming in to roost after feeding in the fields against the setting sun, a real avian spectacular.

This talk by retired wildlife tour guide Paul Rogers, looks at the mammals preparing for winter, such as Grizzlies and Black Bears, the rutting season for the Elk and the effects of the wolf introduction in the parks. Birds are also starting their migration to warmer climes. Moose are feeding in the wet meadows, at this time full of spectacular autumn colours. Fast flowing rivers attract otters, ducks and geese. As well as the wonderful wildlife there are hundreds of hot springs, steaming pools and erupting geysers including Old Faithfull. This southern end of the Rockies is spectacular for its scenery, its wildlife and its colours.

Over 12 months Alan walked over the 13,000 acres of Dupplin Estate near Perth. His written and photographic record is a culmination of a lifetime’s knowledge of wildlife and the country environment, and his talk will take you to share the many precious moments of his journeys.

In Abundance: Nature in Recovery, Karen Lloyd travels across Europe to find out what people are doing to restore habitats and nature. From the Transylvanian Carpathians to the Cairngorms and from the Hungarian Steppe to southern Spain, Karen’s talk – based on her Wainwright Prize longlisted publication for writing on conservation – Abundance is a book about deep hope for the natural world, detailing compelling stories of restoration, renewal and repair from those working on the front line in conservation and challenging the inevitability of biodiversity loss.

Swifts…. “A Screaming Success… or how to make a church goer out of a non-believer”. In this presentation, Nick will talk about his swift project with his local Church in Devon, Chagford Church, where they put up swift boxes, successfully recruited birds to the boxes and fledged young.

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