Meetings are held at Haslemere
Educational Museum, High Street, Haslemere and with the exception
of the AGM, are open to both Museum and Natural History Society members without charge.
Click here for directions to Haslemere Museum.
Guests are always welcome, and the Society would be grateful for a donation of £4.00 from non-members.
**** Our Museum meetings cannot be held during the Covid emergency, but we are making some of our talks available on-line via Zoom. ***
If we have a member's e-mail address, an invitation will be sent prior to the meeting to enable the talk to be viewed. Do e-mail us if we don't already have your current e-mail address.
REPORTS OF RECENT EVENTS
Saturday 24th April
AGM and TALK
TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF DORMOUSE CONSERVATION
Ian White, Dormouse and Training Officer, People's Trust for Endangered Species
23 members logged on to Ian’s presentation on Zoom.
Ian manages the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme and has developed training courses for volunteers as a licence is needed to check this protected species (they are on the Biodiversity Action Plan list). Dormice are a key indicator of the quality of the environment, but being nocturnal and arboreal it is difficult to count the population and their range has shrunk to only southern counties in UK. However, comparing statistics for 1990 and 2018 there has been a huge increase in the number of sites being monitored, boxes and records.
They need a connected tree canopy with an understorey of early stages of woody vegetation with bramble; continuous, dense hedges; and, ideally, a mosaic of coppicing.
Dormouse bridges have been used over roads and on underpasses. In any reintroduction programme their health has to be determined, enthusiastic volunteers needed and a suitable release site found.
Saturday 13th March
Rupert Soskin, Professional Photographer and Author
Rupert, nature photographer, presenter and naturalist, gave a virtual Zoom presentation from his home in southern France to 30 participants. His book entitled “Metamorphosis” took three years to write.
In his study he has photographed sequences of instars of various insects by providing controlled, precise environmental conditions (light, heat, humidity). His photographs included instar growth of Giant Atlas and European Swallowtail butterflies and a shield bug’s larva with dramatic colour changes. He showed the life-cycle of a solitary wasp that collects mud to make mud pots in which she lays a single egg. She then catches up to 20 tiny spiders for each pot which she paralyses to provide food for the larva.
Rupert’s tenacity and patience to follow day by day and hour by hour the metamorphic sequences seen in his beautiful photographs astonished and impressed his audience.
Saturday 13th February 2021
REPERCUSSIONS OF COVID-19 AND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH NATURE
Dr. Tony Whitbread, President Sussex Wildlife Trust
The talk was held on Zoom with 32 people logging on. Tony (formerly CEO of Sussex Wildlife Trust, now President) accompanied his talk with beautiful wildlife photographs from the Trust.
During the three national lock-downs nature seemed to be recovering and people noticed more wildlife. All around the word skies were clearer of pollution, air quality improved and there was questioning of our relationship with nature.
There needs to be a move from exploiting nature to regenerating ways to work with nature. We need to treat nature as assets. Tony believes there cannot be an economy without nature and we can act by lobbying local councillors and national influential people.
Two areas where there have been improvements in the environment: an increase in provision of landfill sites in the UK; a soon-to-be implemented by-law to protect the kelp forest off the Sussex coast to enable the marine environment to recover.
Tony recommended the following references and links relating to his talk:
First is a link to his “Your Better Nature” webinars,
where they are recorded – this is the first in the series of 3:
The books he referred to were:
“Doughnut economics” by Kate Raworth
“Dead zone” by Philip Lymbery
“The economics of biodiversity” by Prof P Dasgupta, and here’s the link - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/final-report-the-economics-of-biodiversity-the-dasgupta-review (he suggests you just look at the “headline messages”!)
Saturday 9th January
INTRODUCED INVASIVE SPECIES _ Increased Biodiversity or Conservation Nightmare?
Dr Colin Ryall, retired Principal Lecturer in Environmental Management - Kingston University, London
This was held on Zoom with 42 people logging on.
An alien species is one that has been introduced by man to a new location for form a self-sustaining population. In UK there are more than 3000 non-native plants and animals, with about 40% being flora introductions.
About 10% of introduced species present a problem and are known as Invasive Alien Species (IAS). These are a result of man’s activities globally and the second most serious cause of upsetting biodiversity. Often without a predator, they can proliferate to out-compete endemic species, modify habitats, hybridise, and bring in diseases. Colin showed many examples of these.
Globally IASs have wreaked havoc in Hawaii, Galapagos, New Zealand and other countries. A dramatic example is on the island of Guam where most bird species have been made extinct by the accidental introduction of the brown tree snake.
On-going and future surveillance with international cooperation is needed and there are various organisations dealing with this. Colin suggested that should members come across and wish to notify any unwanted species they can use various apps which are listed here.
Saturday 14th November 2020
THE PLIGHT OF THE BUMBLEBEE
Dr Nikki Gammans FRES, Project Manager, Short-haired bumblebee introduction
This PowerPoint presentation was presented on Zoom. 26 members logged on. Dr Gammans was one of the writers of “Bumblebees – an Introduction.”
There are 278 species of bees in UK of which 250 are solitary bees, one species is the non-native honey bee and 27 species of bumblebees (although 3 are thought to be extinct).
Bumblebees (which include cuckoo bees) have 50-400 workers with only the queen surviving the winter. They forage for shorter distances than honeybees and with a long tongue they can pollinate a wide range of flowers.
Nikki has worked on The Short-haired Bumblebee Project since its start in 2009. The last recorded sighting had been at Dungeness in Kent in 1988. In 2016 204 queens were brought to Kent from Sweden. On-going monitoring is still taking place.
Ways to help bumblebees: go to bumblebeeconservation.org to see their list “Flower Finder” which suggests plants that flower at different times throughout the year; provide a south-facing bee-hotel for solitary bees; join Bumblebee Conservation’s monitoring programme “Bee Walk” to ID and record on a transect between March and October.
Saturday 31st October 2020
HASLEMERE FLORA PROJECT
Dr Andrew Swan, HNHS President
To ensure that the Zoom procedure would run smoothly for the Winter Talks to be held in November 2020 and January, February and March in 2021, our President, Andy Swan, said he would give a power-point presentation. The subject was “The Haslemere Flora Project,” his own project, and was held on Saturday, 31 October. 26 members logged on.
Andy’s aim was to record the changes that have taken place and why; to ID important locations; and to establish a database to assist with any future conservation project.
The scopes considered were: biological to include vascular plants; and geographical, that is within 10km of Haslemere and therefore encompassing parts of three counties.
His sources of information were: Laura Ponsonby’s 1978 published lists and unpublished archives; and the county floras of Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey.
The current list has 1257 species. Changes since 1978 reveal: an increase of 6 native and 13 non-native species; a decrease of 19 native and 13 non-native species; and 21 probable local extinctions*.
Andy thanked HNHS members who have been assisting him, especially Judith Kusel who was pivotal in getting the project started. Andy hopes that the findings will appear as a HNHS publication “The Flora of Haslemere and the Surrounding Area” in 2021.
* Click for list of likely extinctions. Any new information on these species would be very welcome – please e-mail us if you can help.