Talks, Field Trips, Events & Activities

Showing 14 upcoming events




Geodiversity – shaping the North East by Lesley Dunlop

30th Jan 2015
Friday 30th January, 7-8pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

Geodiversity is the variety of rocks, minerals, fossils, landforms and soils, together with the natural processes that shape them. Geodiversity is a foundation for life and our society. It influences landscape, habitats and species as well as our economy, historical and cultural heritage, education, health and well-being.

Why does protection of geodiversity matter? In England a ‘Charter for Geodiversity’ has recently been published and this illustrates how the shaping of the land over the last 700 million years has led to a rich and diverse country. The Charter can be used by groups, industry and individuals to help inform and protect geodiversity resources.

The effects of geodiversity to life and society are very visible in the north east with strong links to early development, land use, defensive sites, building materials and social history to name a few. From the strategic position afforded by the Whin Sill, minerals mined from Carboniferous strata, and splendid building stones the north east has a rich source of resources and this talk will look at some of these and links to diversity.

Lesley Dunlop is at the Department of Geography, Northumbria University and also an Associate Lecturer for the Open University. She is Chair of the English Geodiversity Forum and GeoConservationUK and has particular interests in economic mineral deposits in the UK and Portugal and in widening understanding and appreciation of local geodiversity.

This talk is a replacement for the previously advertised talk by Prof Jon Gluyas about "Energy security for the UK; can we keep “the home fires burning”? Unfortunately Prof Gluyas is unable to give this talk.
Dolphin © John Carnell



Status of Marine Mammals in Northumberland by Simon Laing

6th Feb 2015
Friday 6th Feb, 7-8pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

Marine mammal populations are threatened by human activities including entanglement in fishing gear, vessel and propeller strikes, noise and environmental pollution. Northumberland coastal waters offers a range of habitats from those exposed to industry around the Tyne and Blyth to more pristine areas in north. The area attracts a range of marine mammals with a year around presence of Harbour Porpoise, White-beaked Dolphin, Minke Whale, Grey and Harbour Seal. In this lecture the ecology, threats and status of these marine mammals will be presented and discussed in relation to fisheries and renewable energy developments.

This talk was originally advertised as being given by Dr Per Berggren. Unfortunately Per is now unable to give this talk.
P1010127 ©Paul Drummond1



Introduction to Winter Tree Identification

7th Feb 2015
Saturday 7th February, 1 - 2.30pm

Would you like to learn how to identify the different trees found in our woodlands? The reserve warden, Paul Drummond, will lead you on a walk in Gosforth Nature Reserve and teach you how to tell the different trees species apart in winter.

Free but booking is required to manage numbers. Please contact the Society Office to book.
Iceland Gull



Birds of the Tyne Estuary

8th Feb 2015
Sunday 8th February, 9.30-11.30am
The mouth of the Tyne Estuary in winter is a great place to view gulls, waders and seabirds. Dan Turner will help explain the different species and if we are lucky we may come across Glaucous or Iceland Gulls at the fish quay. Dan will also explain about some of the history and geography of the area. The walk will be around 1 mile, mostly on paths but dress for the cold. This is also a great place to buy fish & chips or fresh fish! These events are free but booking is required to manage numbers. Please contact the Society office.



History of Beavers in the UK by Prof Bryony Coles

13th Feb 2015
Friday 13th February, 7-8pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

After an introduction to European Beavers and their activities, this talk will outline the types of evidence which can be used to identify their presence in former times, and their history in Britain from the end of the last Ice Age to the probable time of their extinction, including recent evidence found in Northumberland. People hunted Beavers from early times, for food and fur and medicine, and questions to consider will include the extent of human contribution to their extinction. With the trial release of Beavers and their establishment in Scotland the pros and cons of reintroducing this native species throughout Britain will also be considered.

Bryony Coles, Emeritus Professor at Exeter University, is an archaeologist with particular interests in prehistory, wetland archaeology and the long-term interactions between humans and their environment. In 2004 she won the Earth Watch Balloon Debate at the Natural History Museum in London as advocate for Beavers, and in 2006 she published Beavers in Britain’s Past.
blue tit chick



Make your own bird box

16th Feb 2015
Monday 16 February, 10.30am-12.30pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

It’s National Nest Box Week, so why not join our expert Geoff Lawrence to assemble your own bird box and take it home to put up in your garden. This is a family event and all materials are provided but boxes cost £3 and are limited to one per family on a first come, first served basis. Children under 6 years will need adult assistance.
Beluga 1903 © Natural History Society of Northumbria



Archive Roadshow

19th Feb 2015
Thursday 19 Feb, 10am-3.30pm.

The Library on 2nd floor of the Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle.

The Natural History Society has a collection of natural history artwork, photographs, letters and notebooks dating back to the 18th century. We are keen to receive new donations about the Hancock Museum and natural history in the North East.

If you think you may have something of interest then bring at along, like the BBC's Antiques Roadshow, and June Holmes, Archivist for the Natural History Society of Northumbria will have a look at it with you.

There will also be a small display of archive material to look at.



What does the Past tell us about Climate Change in a Warmer World? by Prof Ulrich Salzmann

20th Feb 2015
Friday 20th February, 7-8pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

Our understanding of future global warming relies heavily on the prediction of climate model simulations. Although progressively more sophisticated, climate models have many uncertainties. One approach to explore these uncertainties and understand mechanisms of potential future climate change is to look at time periods in the past for which geological and palaeo-botanical data are available.

Professor Salzmann will present results from an international programme focussing on the global reconstruction of vegetation and climate of the warm late Pliocene world, ca 3 million years ago, using geological data and models. The late Pliocene period is widely regarded as an example of a world that may be similar to the Earth in the late 21st Century. The talk will present global reconstructions of Pliocene vegetation, sea and land surface temperatures, soils and lakes. Challenges of reconstructing and quantifying a Pliocene warm world with data and model will be discussed.

Ulrich Salzmann is Professor of Palaeoecology at the Department of Geography, Northumbria University Newcastle. He is palynologist and biogeographer with a particular interest in past vegetation and climate change of the tropical and polar regions.



Rocks from space: the geology of Meteorites by Dr Alan Cayless

27th Feb 2015
Friday 27th February, 7-8pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

In 2013 a huge fireball streaked across the sky near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk - a dramatic reminder of the fact that space is not empty, and of the objects that occasionally fall to Earth.

Meteorites are rocks from space and can be fragments of asteroids, pieces of our planetary neighbours, and even remnants of the original primordial material from which the Earth and the solar system were formed 4.5 billion years ago. Some meteorites are therefore older than even the most primitive rocks and are indeed the oldest objects to be found on the surface of the Earth.

Alan will describe the different types of meteorites, their origins and how they come to fall to Earth. He will also examine what can be learned about the origins of the solar system and of the Earth itself, and about the most likely places in which meteorites are to be found.

Alan Cayless is a physics and astronomy lecturer with the Open University and also a former chairman of the Stirling Astronomical Society whose activities include preserving an observatory in the centre of the city.



Twite Conservation by Jenny Oldroyd

6th Mar 2015
Friday 6th March, 7-8pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

Twite, or Mountain Linnet as they were also known, was not an uncommon breeding bird in the uplands of Northumbria in the 19th century but its population has been declining ever since and it is now a rare breeding bird in our region and could become locally extinct. The RSPB and Natural England have embarked on a project in the South Pennines to develop conservation techniques that could reverse its fortunes. Jenny is the Twite Project Officer and will give an overview of Twite ecology, distribution, behaviour and migration and will talk about the conservation work that is being done and what has been learnt so far.
red kite



Reintroducing Milvus milvus: A Performed Abstract by Rachel Magdeburg

6th Mar 2015
Friday 6th March 8.30pm-9pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

Visual Artist Rachel Magdeburg will narrate her written script: ‘Milvus milvus: The reCAPTCHA.’ This lyrical fiction applies linguistic devices, comedy and anthropomorphism to tell a tale of revenge, an analogy to xenophobia and a comment on commercialisation.

This chronological story uses rhyming text and word play and traces the Red Kites near annihilation during the 19th century by Humans and then their ‘moral’ restoration due to guilt. The Red Kites seek vengeance for their destruction and ‘assisted translocation’ and retaliate by taking over the UK through brand domination and monopolising Business, Leisure, Technology and Enviro-Tourism sectors.

Embedded within the narrative are views surrounding immigration (contrasted to bird migration). It also topically addresses the current discussions regarding the proposed Anthropocene and Rewilding; the question of what is a ‘native’ or ‘invasive species’ and Human creation of ‘wildness.’

Rachel will read the script as a ‘performed abstract’ and incorporate props and a PowerPoint slideshow of images drawn from animation and advertising.

Rachel is an artist and writer based in Gateshead.
Crossbill, Harwood Forest © Peter Fawcett



Birds of Kielder Forest

7th Mar 2015
Saturday 7th March, 9.30am - 3pm

Weather permitting, March can be a good month to look for some of the specialist bird species found in our coniferous forests such as Goshawk and Crossbill. We will also keep an eye out for Red Squirrel and look for Mandarin Duck.

Free but booking is required to manage numbers. Please contact the Society Office to book.



The life and work of Brian Houghton Hodgson (1801-1894) by David Lowther

13th Mar 2015
Friday 13th March, 7-8pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

Although widely acknowledged during his own time Brian Houghton Hodgson has largely slipped into obscurity. A diplomat and officer of the English East India Company, he was posted to Nepal at a time when the fauna of the Himalaya was almost wholly unknown to European science. Between 1820 and 1844, he amassed a collection of over 10,000 zoological specimens and published 140 scientific papers, many of which described species for the first time. However, it is the thousands of watercolour illustrations of birds and mammals which represent Hodgson’s greatest legacy. Originally collected with the intention of publishing a work on Nepalese zoology, every image includes extraordinarily thorough notes about the species’ behaviour, ecology, and habitat, as well as painstaking measurements and anatomical sketches. Now stored in the archives of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), this set of stunning images remains one of the most important sources of knowledge about the indigenous wildlife of Nepal and Tibet available to modern ecologists and conservationists.

Owing to the number of globally threatened species in Nepal Hodgson’s work is of increasing significance. This talk assesses Hodgson’s work as a pioneering zoologist and his place in 19th century British, ‘imperial’ science, before turning to the collections and their status as a picture of a threatened ecosystem. 2015 marks the bicentenary of the establishment of Anglo-Nepalese diplomatic relations, and this talk is part of a wider program of events organised by Britain-Nepal 200 to celebrate the close links between the two countries and highlight current collaborative efforts to conserve its spectacular wildlife. David Lowther is a local artist, researcher and Visiting Scholar at the ZSL.
woodland May DNR



A photographic tour of the distinctive National Vegetation Classification types in the wilder parts of the North East by Dr Dave Mitchell

20th Mar 2015
Friday 20th March, 7-8pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

The North East is blessed with a diverse array of landscapes, each made up of broad habitats such as grassland, wetland, woodland and so on. Within each broad habitat, distinctive groups of plant species occur together, time and time again, to form recognisable vegetation types which are described in the British National Vegetation Classification (NVC). There are woodlands within woodlands, grasslands within grasslands, etc. such that the area is made up of a patchwork quilt of many vegetation types. These remain a mystery to many naturalists, and because the published books on the subject are very technical, this talk will take a photographic approach to recognising them. In fact Dr Mitchell has been developing a simple visual “app”, which he will illustrate, for mobile phone\tablet computer to aid the identification of NVC communities and sub-communities in the field. He will describe some of the more localised, fragile and distinctive vegetation types in the wilder parts of Northumbria.

Dr Dave Mitchell is Natural England’s Regulation and Enforcement Officer for specially protected sites in the North East. He is a qualified plant ecologist with a particular interest in the region’s vegetation. He developed a passion for the National Vegetation Classification whilst undertaking his PhD research 20 years ago and enjoys trying to make this subject more accessible to a wider audience.

About Talks, Field Trips, Events & Activities

Indoor Events

From October to March the Society invites regional and national experts in the natural world to give inspiring lectures to our members and the wider public.

Lectures are usually held every Friday evening, starting at 7pm, in the learning suite on the ground floor of the Great North Museum: Hancock. The museum is closed to the public at this time, so entry is via both side entrances.

Entry is from 6.20pm and tea, coffee and biscuits are available and the opportunity to socialise. Speakers give an illustrated presentation for 45mins-1 hour and then open the floor for questions and discussions.

On site parking is limited to blue badge holders only. There is a car park nearby on Claremont Road. The Museum is a 300m walk from Haymarket Metro and bus stations. For directions click here.

Non-members are very welcome to attend but we ask that they kindly make a donation on the night to support these lectures.

Outdoor Events

Throughout the year local experts lead field meetings to explore the natural world and magical landscapes of Northern England.

Outdoor events are free to members and their families. Some trips require us to hire boats or pay entrance fees and details of these costs are included in the information about the event.

For most events you can just turn up at the meeting place but some events must be booked in advance in order to manage numbers and this is stated in the information. You must make your own way to the meeting point. Please arrive early so that the event can start on time. Some activities last all day so you may need to take a drink and packed lunch with you.

In order to visit the best places our trips take place in natural landscapes that can be unpredictable. It is essential that you wear, or take with you, appropriate clothing and accessories to cope with heat, cold, wet, wind, biting insects and to walk on uneven, slippery or wet surfaces. Before you join any of our outdoor events it is essential that you read our Guidance.

Some events are run in partnership with other organisations or groups but otherwise our outdoor events are exclusively for Society members. If you are not a member and would like to attend an outdoor meeting then this can be arranged by contacting the Society office in advance and making a donation.