Talks, Field Trips, Events & Activities

Showing 15 indoor events




Active tectonics of the central Apennines. Talk by Prof Ken McCaffery

4th Dec 2015
Friday 4 December, 7pm-8pm
Great North Museum: Hancock

The historical record of Italy shows that many destructive earthquakes have taken place in central Italy. This talk will highlight ongoing work to understand activity on the normal fault systems that are responsible for the present-day active tectonics and to discuss implications for seismic hazard in the region including Rome itself.

Ken McCaffrey is a Professor in Earth Sciences at Durham University. He has made significant contributions to the fields of continental tectonics, particularly basement inheritance and igneous intrusion and fractured reservoir description.



Lichens in northeast England. Talk by Dr Janet Simkin

15th Jan 2016
Friday 15 January, 7pm-8pm
Great North Museum: Hancock

The study of lichens has a long history in the North East, starting with Winch in the 18th century. This talk will introduce us to some remarkable characters, and will also consider how the lichen flora of the area has changed over the years. Rarely seen herbarium specimens, books and archive material from the natural history society’s collections will be on display. This is a joint event with the British Lichen Society
Adder in Upper Coquet Valley



Adding Adders in County Durham. Talk by Anne Porter

22nd Jan 2016
Friday 22 January, 7pm-8pm
Great North Museum: Hancock

The Heart of Durham Adder Project was set up in 2011 in response to alarming reports from the south of the UK of Adders being found with genetic mutations. “In breeding depression” was the explanation put forward by scientists as the cause, which was also leading to declining Adder populations in some places. How were Adders in County Durham faring? Over the last four years Durham Wildlife Trust has been trying to find out. In conjunction with Sunderland University, volunteers have been collecting “sloughs”, shed skins which are contributing to a genetic database. In 2016 the project is aiming to map the location of reptile hibernation sites.

Anne is the Project Officer for Durham Wildlife Trust’s Heart of Durham Project. She will give an overview of Adder ecology and the project so far and explain why locating these hibernation sites are crucial, especially on the moorland of County Durham.



Quaternary Fluvial Archives: a new paradigm. Talk by Prof Dave Bridgland

29th Jan 2016
Friday 29 January, 7pm-8pm
Great North Museum: Hancock

Work over the past few decades has pulled together geological and geomorphological records from rivers in the Quaternary Period that show interesting patterns of similarity and difference, which can be related to climate, its zonation and fluctuation, and to crustal provinces. Quaternary ice ages have influenced our landscape far beyond the immediate reach of the ice sheets themselves.

David Bridgland is a Professor in the Department of Geography at Durham University, with research interests in Quaternary environmental change and fluvial history, with reference to palaeontology and archaeology. Until recently he was President of the Geologist's Association.
normandy landing



Geology & War

30th Jan 2016
Saturday 30 January, 1pm-4pm.
Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle

The unequal global distribution of geological resources (including hydrocarbons, industrial minerals and water) is partly to blame for many wars. Once conflict erupts, terrain, bedrock geology and ground conditions become key military considerations - wars are won and lost ‘on the ground’. In the aftermath, geologists can advise on remediation of contaminated ground and the safe disposal of nuclear weapons and other toxins. Looking forward, can geology help with conflict avoidance?

Join Peter Doyle, Noel Worley and Andrew Morrison to explore Geology and War. This is a free joint event run in partnership with the Yorkshire Geological Society. A more detailed programme will be available here closer to the event.
Shag © Anne Wilson



Foraging strategies of Shags breeding on the Farne Islands. Talk by Liz Morgan

5th Feb 2016
Friday 5 February, 7pm-8pm
Great North Museum: Hancock

Shags are sometimes overshadowed by their more colourful and aggressive neighbours on the Farne Islands but Liz will show us that the Shags are just as remarkable as the terns and Puffins! This talk will highlight some of the fascinating patterns uncovered by recent research, primarily from fitting individual Shags with tracking devices. This research aims to answer questions such as: Do individual birds have favoured feeding locations? How flexible are their feeding habits? Are there differences between the main Island groups? Understanding the answers will help assess how local birds could respond to changes in the marine environment.

Liz Morgan is a PhD student at the University of Leeds, supervised by Prof. Keith Hamer. As part of her research project, she has spent the last two breeding seasons studying the behaviour of Shags on the Farne Islands. Her work is carried out in collaboration with Newcastle University and the National Trust, and is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
John Hancock



Rare, Extinct and Unusual Specimens - Collections Tour

10th Feb 2016
Wednesday 10 Feb, 1.30pm-3pm.
Discovery Museum, Newcastle.

The Natural History Society of Northumbria is fortunate to have some amazing items in our collections. Passenger Pigeon, Slender-billed Curlew, Great Auk and Hawaiian Crow are just some of the rare and extinct specimens that are kept in storage in the basement of the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. Dan Gordon is the curator of the biology stores and he has kindly agreed to lead a tour based on some of our rare, extinct and unusual items. This will cover birds and mammals and include taxidermy, skins, bones and eggs and the fascinating stories behind them. Free but booking is required to manage numbers. Please contact the Society Office to book.
Water Vole © David Gibbon



Re-introducing Water Voles to Kielder. Talk by Kevin O'Hara

12th Feb 2016
Friday 12 February, 7pm-8pm
Great North Museum: Hancock

The ‘Restoring Ratty’ project has the principle aim of re-establishing a viable, self-sustaining population of Water Voles in the Kielder/north Tyne catchment of Northumberland. This will be through the reintroduction of captive bred animals sourced from wild donor stocks from viable northern British populations. The added aim of any such substantial release would be to restore a complete Water Vole meta-population system and to maintain the whole catchment free of breeding American Mink which is the end goal of the project. The project hopes to expand its boundaries and practices throughout the Tyne catchment with the ultimate goal of restoring Water Voles to the entire Tyne catchment.

Kevin is Conservation Officer for Northumberland Wildlife Trust where he has worked for over 16 years, principally with wetlands and their associated species such as Otter. He has worked on the re-establishment of Water Voles to the region for the past 10 years establishing a regional working group and regional management strategy for the species. He has managed the Restoring Ratty project since 2013 and hopes to see it to fruition by 2021.
alnmouth botany trip



Genetic insights into plant diversity. Talk by Professor Pete Hollingsworth

19th Feb 2016
Friday 19 February, 7pm-8pm
Great North Museum: Hancock

Telling species apart can be difficult. Some species look similar but aren’t; and sometimes closely related individuals can look different. Furthermore some plant groups and some areas of the planet have simply had inadequate attention to characterise the diversity they contain. Using examples from the UK and elsewhere, Professor Hollingsworth will summarise how DNA data is helping tell plant species apart. He will also give an overview of the International Barcode of Life project: a large-scale international initiative building a DNA reference library of life on earth.

Pete Hollingsworth is Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Sea_Ice_North_of_Fairbanks © NASA



The retreat of the North Sea Ice lobe: New seafloor evidence from the Britice Chrono project. Talk by Dr Dave Roberts

26th Feb 2016
Friday 26 February, 7pm-8pm
Great North Museum: Hancock

The ice sheet history of the east coast of the UK and western North Sea has long fascinated geologists. During the last glacial cycle the North East was overrun by the British-Irish Ice Sheet (BIIS) flowing eastwards and southwards. In recent years it has become evident that several ice streams including the Tweed, Tyne, and Stainmore Gap ice streams, as well as the late stage North Sea Lobe, played a role in shaping the landscape. Understanding the flow phasing of these ice streams is important for understanding the dynamic behaviour of the BIIS and ice sheet collapse patterns. Here we present new data from the seafloor collected during recent work undertaken by the BritIce Chrono project in the North Sea.

Dave Roberts is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography at Durham University. His research interests centre on glacial sedimentary processes, subglacial processes and controls on ice sheet and ice stream dynamics, in Greenland and the UK.
Herbarium plant



Herbarium Tour, Newcastle

27th Feb 2016
Saturday 27 February, 11am-12pm
Discovery Museum, Newcastle

The Natural History Society of Northumbria’s important collection of dried plant specimens is held in special stores in the basement of the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. Our herbarium contains over 15,000 plants from the North East and beyond collected from the 1800s to the present day, including a great number from John, Albany and Mary Hancock. Our Botany Group has been diligently working on this collection for two years, documenting, remounting, photographing and preserving this important collection. They have kindly offered to talk to members about the collection, some of the interesting items in it and about herbaria generally and why they are important. Meet at the reception desk at the Discovery Museum, Blandford Square, Newcastle NE1 4JA.
Hen harrier male in Riddsdale © Mike Reid



Hen Harriers and the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project. Talk by Dr Sonja Ludwig & Dr Catherine Barlow

4th Mar 2016
Friday 4 March, 7pm-8pm
Great North Museum: Hancock

One of the most controversial human-wildlife conflicts in the UK is between the conservation of Hen Harriers and the management of moorland for Red Grouse shooting. The Langholm Moor Demonstration Project (LMDP) is a partnership between the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Buccleuch Estate, RSPB and Natural England, and aims to demonstrate practical means to recover Red Grouse density in the presence of Hen Harriers, using diversionary feeding as the main mitigation tool.

The first half of the talk will present an overview about the project, its background and success stories, and discuss interactions between grouse and raptors. The second half of the talk will present some of the ways in which a community and education project running alongside the LMDP (Making the Most of Moorlands) raises awareness about this controversial subject - including sharing some insights into the lives of the Langholm Hen Harriers from birds fitted with satellite tags, and how you can help continue this vital work.

Sonja is the head scientist of the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project and Catherine is Project Manager for the Making the Most of Moorlands Project. Both are members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group.
fossil leaf thumbnail



Fossil Collections Tour, Newcastle

9th Mar 2016
Wednesday 9 March, 2pm-3pm
Discovery Museum, Newcastle

Sylvia Humphrey is the curator of the Natural History Society of Northumbria's geology collections, the majority of which are held in special stores in the basement of the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. This is a fantastic opportunity to see some of the fossils that have come to us via notable 19th century collectors such as William Hutton and Thomas Atthey. We will see examples of a variety of fossils, including fish and plants. Free but booking is required to manage numbers. Please contact the Society Office to book.
evolution wiki



Darwin's bulldog, Albany Hancock & the theory of evolution. Talk by Prof Wallace Arthur

11th Mar 2016
Friday 11 March, 7pm-8pm
Great North Museum: Hancock

Charles Darwin’s 1859 book, On the Origin of Species, changed our view of the living world. But the change only became widely accepted after numerous heated debates, which the evolutionists won. Darwin himself did not take part in these debates, mainly because of his recurring illness. But his ‘bulldog’, Thomas Henry Huxley, did. Indeed, he was the key figure in the fight for Darwin’s theory in public gatherings, such as the great Oxford evolution debate of 1860. Throughout the decades before and after this – the 1850s and 1860s – Huxley maintained a correspondence with Albany Hancock. Both men were experts on molluscs and their correspondence was based on how to interpret similarities and differences between various groups of molluscs such as sea slugs and squid. Huxley wrote about 40 letters to Hancock over 20 years, but he never once mentioned Darwin. Why not? In contrast, he did mention, many times, the infamous Richard Owen. Why? In this talk, we’ll look at what was really at issue in the correspondence between Huxley and Hancock; as a result, we’ll see the evolution debate from an interesting and unusual angle.

Wallace Arthur is a zoologist specialising in evolutionary developmental biology. He is Emeritus Professor of Zoology at the National University of Ireland, Galway and prior to 2004 he was Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Sunderland. He is one of the founding editors of the journal Evolution and Development, and has written several books on evolution.
Solomon’s Seal



A light-hearted meander through the botanical byways of taxonomic Latin. Talk by Chris Metherell

18th Mar 2016
Friday 18 March, 7pm-8pm
Great North Museum: Hancock

Latin names have been annoying laymen and scientists alike since well before Linnaeus in the 18th century. Why is the Oxford Ragwort called Senecio squalidus - 'dirty old man'? Why is there a beetle called Agra katewinsletae, not to mention a genus of fish called Batman. Why do zoologists like repeating themselves with names such as Gorilla gorilla gorilla? (no prizes for guessing the English name). Chris will throw a light-hearted spotlight into the dusty corners of scientific Latin (mainly botanical) and promises that there will be no test at the end! No need to polish your declensions or buff up your gerundives for this end of term amusement.

Chris is botanical recorder for vice-county 68 (North Northumberland), and is Honorary General Secretary of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.

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.

To download our talks programme click here.

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.