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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.


May 2019

Monthly – 2nd Wednesday

April to Sept Wednesday field trips (not August)

Details of car shares and suggested routes will be provided. Start time 10.30 on site unless otherwise stated and walk duration 3hrs max. All outings £2 except when led by U3A members.


Wed 3 Apr: Brigsteer Woods daffodil walk and bird watching at Park End hide. Join U3A member Jenny Kelly for a quiet woodland amble.

Wed 8 May: Kentmere Valley bird watching with RSPB volunteers: Ian Tallon and Mike Roberts. (Strict car share. Max 8 cars in private parking. Charge £3 per car.)

Wed 29 May: Pond-dipping id session at Plumgarths, Kendal. 1.00 – 3.00 p.m. with CWT Education Officer Jamie Normington. (Places limited to 20. Book through Sarah.)

Wed 12 June: Join U3A member Janet Antrobus for an EVENING flower walk along Scout Scar. Meet: 6PM.

Wed 24 July: Learn all about Bumble Bees with expert Dr Julia Piggott on her bee reserve at Brigsteer. Refreshments will be provided! (Numbers limited to 24. Book through Sarah.)

Wed 11 Sept: Fungus Foray at Hay Bridge Nature Reserve, Bouth with local mycologist Helen Speed. (All day visit.)

Our Xmas lecture by U3A geologist Mike Dewey transported us to the Galapagus Islands where we learnt about ‘kleptoparasitism’ and the 154 species of birds recorded there including Boobies with red and blue feet! This year the talks began with fascinating photos of the Northern Lights in Iceland, how they are formed and about geothermal activity. Ken Taylor described the many myths and legends surrounding this phenomenon. In Feb. Bob Cartwright from the Red Squirrel Society talked about recovery plans for this beautiful little mammal in Cumbria and how the work of many volunteers is playing a role in restoring the population before it is too late. For our last winter lecture we look forward to welcoming Swift experts Tanya and Edmund Hoare with their talk about ‘Our Disappearing Swifts.’

(This group is closed to new members until this Sept but we have a waiting list so contact Sarah.)

November 2018

Co-ordinator - Sarah Harvey
Monthly - 2nd Wednesday 1.45 for refreshments, talks begin 2.15 (later if clash with Midday Concert)
Venue - Castle Street Centre, Kendal

Fifteen butterfly species were found on the rich Smardale reserve in July with the help from expert C.Winnack. The unusual Northern Brown Argus fed on Common Rock-rose while the rare Scotch Argus, at its northern limit, was attracted by Purple Moor-grass. We ended the summer programme with a visit and talk at the Armitt Museum where many of Beatrix Potter’s fungi paintings were the subject of a fascinating insight into her life and work. This October Prof. Lee spoke about flora of the Yorkshire Dales and the history of the protection and gradual recovery of Lady’s Slipper Orchid in our limestone countryside. Before Xmas we look forward to talks about ‘Birding in the Cairngorms’ and ‘Wildlife in the Galapagos Islands’ with U3A speakers Jan Wiltshire and Mike Dewey.

Winter Programme at Castle Street Centre

9 Jan 2019: Iceland, Land of Fire and Ice – Ken Taylor (NB: later start 2.25)

13 Feb: Red Squirrel Recovery – Bob Cartwright

13 Mar: Our Disappearing Swifts – Tanya and Edmund Hoare

We welcomed 10 new members from the Sept meeting but the group is now closed until next autumn. (Contact Sarah if you wish to be on the waiting list.)

August 2018

A busy summer programme began with panoramic views from Eycott Reserve. A prime example of how agricultural land can successfully be transformed into thriving multi-habitat land within ten years. Cranberry, Marsh Cinquefoil and the tiny fungus Pleated Inkcap topped the bill. The Barkbooth bluebells were at their best in May with the unusual Parsley Piert located the following day. A bird watching visit to Barbondale produced sightings of 25 species in two hours. Close views of Red Starts and Pied Flycatcher were memorable. A searing hot day on the limestone pavement on Little Asby Common near Orton did not deter us. We were rewarded with specialized ferns followed by orchids and Ragged Robin in the lush water meadow at Tarn Sike. We look forward to a butterfly visit to Smardale in late July. Last outing: Private viewing of Beatrix Potter’s fungi paintings with the curator at The Armitt Museum, Ambleside on WED 12 Sept. 10.15am. We still need 20 people for this list so this event is open to all other U3A groups. Please contact me.

Winter Programme at Castle Street Centre

10 Oct- ‘The flora of the Dales and Search for the Lady’s Slipper Orchid’- Prof J. Lee

14 Nov- ‘Nethy Bridge, Gannets at Spey Bay and Abernethy Forest’- J. Wiltshire

12 Dec- ‘Wildlife of the Galapagos Islands’- M. Dewey

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