Talks, Field Trips, Events & Activities

Showing 16 upcoming events

Sun with sunspot



The Sun and the Earth's climate

18th Sep 2014

Room A003, Ellison Building, Northumbria University, Newcastle.

We have been invited by the Institute of Physics to join them for this lecture about how changes in the Sun affect the Earth's climate and the implications for climate change.

In the late 1970s it was established that the Sun's energy output varies alongside other measures of activity such as sunspots - and thus the "solar constant" isn't constant. Over the most recent sunspot cycle, satellite measurements have shown unpredicted large variations at ultraviolet wavelengths. These have interesting implications for solar effects on the stratosphere and for the mechanisms involved in Sun-climate links.

Joanna Haigh is Professor of Atmospheric Physics and co-Director of the Grantham Institute (Climate Change and the Environment) at Imperial College London. She has been fascinated by weather since childhood and she has been lucky enough to follow a career in meteorology. Her particular expertise is in how solar radiation and heat interact with the atmosphere, how these processes are represented in climate models and the physics of climate change.



Bird migration at Whitburn Coastal Park, South Tyneside

20th Sep 2014
Saturday 20 September, 6.40am-10am.

Leaders: Jimmy Steel & South Tyneside Coastal Conservation Group.

We will be joining the bird ringers at Whitburn Coastal Park observatory to watch them in action and learn about their work. This stretch of coastline has an enviable reputation for migrant birds with Pallas’ Grasshopper, Greenish, Barred, Arctic and Yellow-Browed Warblers all seen last autumn! We will be mainly searching for migrant passerines but will also try our luck with seabirds if the weather conditions are good.

Meet at Whitburn Coastal Park car park, signed off A183 - turn right after entrance and drive to southern end of road (grid ref NZ410635).
Fly Agaric New Park Wood by Brenda Astley websize



Fungal Foray at Chopwell Woods

20th Sep 2014
Saturday 20th Sept
10am start (duration 2-3hrs)

Society members are very welcome to join OPAL for a fungal foray walk at Chopwell Woods guided by local mycology expert Dr Gordon Beakes. This event is free but booking is required. To book places email
Water shrew Gosforth Park Nature Reserve, © Mark Houghton



Small Mammals in Gosforth Park Nature Reserve

27th Sep 2014
Saturday 27 September, 10.30am (1½ hours).

Veronica Carnell

We will be examining bait tubes and Longworth live traps for signs and presence of small mammals (mice, voles and shrews), participants will be able to re-bait and reset the traps after examination if they wish. Accompanied children welcome. Please be prepared for muddy conditions underfoot. This event is part of our ongoing annual national survey for small mammals, which is being co-ordinated by the Mammal Society UK. Volunteers welcome, training provided.

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



Volunteer Work Party

27th Sep 2014
Gosforth Park Nature Reserve. Meet at the entrance.

Come along and give us a hand to improve habitats for wildlife. Please wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and suitable footwear (we recommend wellies), also bring with you any drinks or snacks to keep you going. Everyone is welcome, including friends and family, as long as you are able to carry out light physical work. If you have gardening gloves please bring them with you. We will go ahead in rain.
Black Panther



The Path of the Panther – reports of big cats in the North East by Ian Bond

3rd Oct 2014
Friday 3 Oct, 7-8pm.

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

Scores of people claim to have seen a big cat in the North East; in some places it almost seems to have passed into local folklore. But could that really be what they saw, are big cats still at large and might we one day admit them to our mammal fauna?

Ian Bond is a full-time ecologist, some-time wildlife writer and compiler of Northumbria Mammal Group’s “Big Cat Diaries”.
Geology talk image 10.10.14



From faulting and fluids to mineralisation and magma; A new genetic model for the North Pennines Orefield by Dr Edward Dempsey

10th Oct 2014
Friday 10 Oct, 7-8pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

This talk will reinvestigate the North Pennines Orefield from both structural point of view using stress inversion
modelling and a geochemical stance using Rhenium-Osmium isotope geochemistry. We will discuss the timing
and origin of the ore-field and its place in a much larger Northern European story.

Dr. Edward Dempsey is a Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Earth Sciences at Durham University
Brown hare by Thomas Bewick © Natural History Society of Northumbria



Hidden Treasures: The Drawings of Thomas Bewick by Keir Davidson

11th Oct 2014
Saturday 11 Oct, 1-2pm
Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

Preserved in our archives is a remarkable collection of drawings saved by Thomas Bewick’s children from the floor of his wood engraving workshop around the turn of the 18th century. On tiny scraps of paper, these drawings represent Bewick’s initial moments of inspiration and studying them in this talk will give us an insight into the artistic vision of England’s greatest wood engraver.

This is joint event with the Bewick Society. Keir Davidson is a landscape designer, author and lecturer for the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Society.
Migrating geese



Autumn Birds on Holy Island

12th Oct 2014
Sunday 12 Oct, 10am-3.45pm

Ian Kerr, author of The Birds of Holy Island, will help us track down migrating birds and if conditions are favourable we hope to find some of the rarer species. At this time of year wintering wildfowl and waders will also be arriving along with associated birds of prey. This is an all-day event so you will need a packed lunch.

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



Ancient lime woods in the UK: genetics reveals their history by Dr Kirsten Wolff

17th Oct 2014
Friday 17 Oct, 7-8pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

Small-leaved Lime and Large-leaved Lime are endemic to the UK and northwest Europe. Recent molecular genetic research is revealing how different the two tree species are and how frequently hybridisation and clonal reproduction occurs. Genetics has also aided those working to restore historic ‘linden lanes’.

Dr Kirsten Wolff from Newcastle University is an evolutionary geneticist with a broad interest in population genetic diversity and adaptation in plants. Her skills using DNA markers allow her to play ‘the plant detective’ and 4 years ago she initiated, with her PhD students, the first genetic research into lime trees.
greater yellowlegs druridge bay michael eccles



A birders story by Richard Crossley

24th Oct 2014
Friday 24 Oct, 7-8pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

Richard Crossley’s story of lessons learned while growing up in the British birding scene; from travels around the world to living in Cape May, USA. This is a fast-paced story told with humour and depth, through a camera lens that loves colour and art.

Richard is an internationally acclaimed birder, photographer and the award winning author of “The Crossley ID Guide” series and co-author of “The Shorebird Guide”. Richard’s dream is to help popularise birding and so promote conservation. He is co-founder of the global birding initiative “Pledge to Fledge” and the Cape May Young Birder’s Club and is working on other diverse projects.
Blue Tit chick in its nestbox



Make Your Own Bird & Halloween Bat Boxes

27th Oct 2014
Monday 27 Oct
10.45am, 11.30am and 12.15pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

The Society’s nest box expert Geoff Lawrence will help you to make your own bird and bat boxes. This is a family event and all materials are provided but boxes cost £3 (birds) or £5.50 (bats) and are limited to one per family. There will be 3 sessions (each one lasting 30 minutes) on a first come, first served basis.
Red Squirrel, ©Terry Cavner



Red Squirrels at Woodhorn Museum

29th Oct 2014
Wednesday 29 Oct, 11am-3pm

Woodhorn Museum, Ashington, Northumberland

Thanks to some dedicated conservation work Red Squirrels have been making a come-back in the Ashington area and Woodhorn Museum is a really good place to see them. We are teaming up with Red Squirrels Northern England, Morpeth & District Red Squirrels and the museum to help you learn more about our native squirrels. There will be squirrel spotting walks starting at 11am and 1pm, plus bird of prey displays at 12am and 2pm. Entry to the museum is free; car parking is £3.50.

The museum entrance is signposted from the A189 just northeast of Ashington has details of public transport.
Nomada marshamella, solitary wasp © Louise Hislop websize



Social and antisocial behaviour in parasitic wasps by Dr Ian Hardy

31st Oct 2014
Friday 31 Oct, 7-8pm

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

Wasps can be a nuisance when they steal our food and drink, but these are the social wasps. There are many more species of beneficial parasitic wasps. In this talk Ian Hardy from the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham will introduce parasitic, or ‘parasitoid’, wasps, of which there are many thousands of species worldwide. He will go on to discuss species in which adult wasps fight each other directly for vital resources and outline what determines which contestant wins. His talk will also consider some very unusual parasitoids that do not fight, but instead several mothers look after broods of offspring communally (termed quasi-sociality). Both fighting and non-fighting wasps tend to produce mainly females in their offspring groups. The reasons for biased sex ratios in fighting wasps are well understood but the sex ratios of quasi-social wasps require explanations that are novel among parasitoids.



Grey Seal pups on the Farne Islands

1st Nov 2014
Saturday 1 Nov, late morning (exact time tbc)

We will have good views of Grey Seals and their new pups on this boat trip from Seahouses to the Farne Islands. One of the National Trust Wardens will join us to help locate the seals and answer any questions. We also hope to see winter seabirds such as divers and auks. Please wear clothing and footwear suitable for all weathers.

Cost for the boat is £20 per person. Please contact the Society Office to book.

Leader: Ann Wilson



Introduction to Winter Waders & Sea Birds

23rd Nov 2014
Sunday 23 Nov, 1pm-4pm

Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve, Northumberland

We will watch a good selection of waders and wildfowl on the mudflats at Fenham as the tide rises. Depending on the weather we will move to either Ross Back Sands or Bamburgh, where we should see Long-tailed Duck, Slavonian Grebe and Red-throated Diver and with a bit of luck some of the less common species. Please come dressed for the winter and bring a telescope if you have one.

Meet in the bird hide at the end of the minor road past Fenham-le-Moor and please park sensibly on the verge (grid ref NU097398); coming from the south turn right off the A1 just before Buckton.

Leader: James Littlewood

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.