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Natural History

Meeting Details

What we do

During the summer months i.e. April to September inclusive, our meetings are held outdoors at varying locations, twice monthly on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. We gather at the agreed venue at 2.00 and plan to finish at 4.00–ish. We meet whatever the weather.

Winter meetings, from October to March, are on the second Wednesday of each month starting at 2;15pm, with refreshments at 1.45pm. Some members have opted to be winter members only.

We are all learning from each other; some members have a great wealth of knowledge and are happy to share. Our list of suggested topics is endless and we are looking forward to plenty of exploration and learning in the months ahead: do join us if you wish to learn or have expertise to offer – you will be very welcome.

It would be wise to check with Sarah Harvey re field trips in case there have been changes or if you need more information.


July 2017

Our busy and well-attended summer programme took us to CWT Brown Robin Reserve to learn about ancient ‘corduroy tracks’; ‘gatling trees’; that Small-leaved Lime trees ‘walk’ across fields and that the rare Rock Whitebeam grew here. N/Trust staff at St Catherine’s Footprint described how this unique eco building was assembled using straw and wool for the walls and insulation. An unusual Balsam grows here and is the food source for the rare Netted Carpet Moth. In May ‘Boglife’ project members showed us a Harvest Mouse nest, Slow Worms and the Ospreys nesting on the Roudsea Wood Mosses. Ingleborough NNR gave us stunning views and weather all day. Our expert leader showed us many botanical treasures including at least five species of orchid. We hope to use detectors to locate plenty of bats in Levens Park during our evening Bat walk; explore Burns Beck Moss with our own botanist Janet Antrobus and finish the programme in September with a fascinating fungus foray! Last summer outing: WED 13th SEPT to Cliburn Moss 10.45 a.m. (car share: leave 10.00 a.m. Morrisons)

Winter Programme at Castle Street Centre

11 Oct - ‘Talking trees’. Patricia Howell (Woodland Trust)

8 Nov - ‘The Seasons in the Lune Valley and Lake district’. Philip Cropper

13 Dec - Members’ Special (and mince pies!) Jan Wiltshire and Barbara Blatchford will treat us to ‘Out and About with a Nature Writer’ and ‘Beyond the Arctic Circle’.

March 2017

Monthly- April to Sept field trips (not August) usually Wednesday.

Details of car share points and suggested routes will be provided. All outings £2 unless when U3A members are leading.


Wed 12 Apr: Brown Robin CWT Reserve, Grange. Meet: 10am in Grand Hotel car park. 2hrs with Warden Tony Saunders then bird watching along the prom at high tide.

Wed 3 May: St. Catherine’s N/T ‘Footprint’, Windermere. Meet: 10.30am on site. Hear about this Centre’s unique ‘green’ construction and walk through the bluebell woods with Ranger Bruna Remessa.

Wed 24 May: Roudsea Wood Mosses. Meet: 11.00 a.m. on site. Join BogLife project members and N/Eng Warden John Dunbavin to learn about their valuable research in this unique habitat.

Wed 14 June: Ingleborough limestone flora. Meet: 11.00 a.m. Horton station. Locate the stunning Bird’s-eye-Primrose with N/Eng Warden Colin Newlands on a moderate 3 mile walk in beautiful countryside.

Thurs 6 July: EVENING Bat Walk in Levens Park. Meet: 9.00 p.m. at old A6 layby before Levens Hall. Join local Bat Group expert Shirley Martin. Use detectors to locate Daubenton’s bats. (Restricted numbers.)

Wed 19 July: Burns Beck Moss and Killington Reservoir. Meet: 10.30 a.m. on site. Member Janet Antrobus to show us around this SSSI-a rich area for bog plants.

Wed 13 Sept: Fungus Foray to Cliburn Moss. Meet: 10.45 a.m. on site. Mycologist Helen Speed to be our guide around this gem of a reserve.

Since the fascinating Xmas talks on fungi and the Burren, members have enjoyed two more well-attended lectures. The CWT Marine Conservation Team described their essential protection work in the Irish Sea zones and we learnt about Quahogs! In Feb we welcomed our local naturalist author Jan Wiltshire who transported us to the atmospheric Farne Islands with artistic close-ups of sea bird plumage and ‘Jackson Pollock’ eggs! We look forward to the last winter talk - a Virtual tour of the eastern CWT reserves (a ‘first’ for our group).

November 2016

11 Jan: Our Living Seas - Mari-Ann Park + colleagues (CWT Marine Training Manager)

8 Feb: The Farne Islands and Northumbrian Coast- Jan Wiltshire (local author, U3A member)

15 Mar: Virtual tour of the CWT Eastern Reserves, Hutton Roof and Smardale - Andrew Walter (CWT Reserve Officer)

July saw us using ferry boats to watch Grey Seals basking on South Walney. Piel Island provided fine views of sea birds and shoreline plants with a rare lichen growing on the castle walls which was identified by Mike Dewey. Then members enjoyed a ‘hands-on’ experience and hive demonstrations at the Lancashire Bee Keepers’ Apiary. We heard how the group was trying to reintroduce the rare native Black Bee, saw the famous ‘waggle dance’ and examined specialised queen cells. Our busy summer programme concluded with bird watching at Glasson Dock with the RSPB. Top of the list was Spotted Redshank and 500+ Golden Plover feeding along the coastline.

We began the winter talks with David Mower’s superb digital photography featuring our garden birds, and heard how to encourage and protect them. We look forward to Alec Greening’s ‘The Wildlife of Costa Rica’ and our Xmas Special with talks on ‘Fungi’ and ‘The Burren’ (and mince pies!) We welcomed 24 new members from the Sept open morning. (Do remember you are welcome to join just as a winter or summer member.)

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