2017-20 Meetings

With the exception of January, meetings are held on the University Of Cumbria Campus, Ambleside, on the second Thursday of the month at 7:30pm. The precise location of the next meeting is given on the home page.

12 October 2017

Endangered or Vulnerable – lessons from snow leopard research in Kazakhstan

Dr Ian Convery and Dr Volker Deeker (University of Cumbria)

Snow leopards have recently been downlisted from endangered to vulnerable status. Illegal killing has decreased in many area, but declines in prey abundance and climate change continue to pose threats. Using camera trap data combined with environmental modelling a team of University of Cumbria researchers set out to investigate the state of a snow leopard population in Kazakhstan’s Ile Alatau mountains.

9 November 2017

Arctic charr:  the Cumbrian ecology and status of an Ice Age relict

Dr Ian Winfield (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Natural Environment Research Council)

The Arctic charr was one of the first fish species to colonise what was to become the UK after the last glaciation.  Having now been with us for c. 10,000 years and being of recognised biodiversity and fisheries importance, its Cumbrian populations nevertheless face a range of environmental threats.  This presentation will describe the local ecology of this remarkable fish and discuss its future conservation.

14 December 2017

Architecture in the Lakes through the centuries

Andy Lowe (former Buildings Conservation Officer, LDNPA)

Andy Lowe will look at the detailed design of buildings from medieval times to the twentieth century and how they contribute to making the Lake District such a special place.

25 January 2018

Jacobs Join supper and Annual General Meeting followed by showing of members’ best natural history photographs taken during 2017 (no more than six each, brought on a memory stick).

Ambleside Parish Centre, St Mary’s Church, Ambleside LA22 9DH

This meeting begins at 7:00pm. Note also the change of location.

8 February 2018

Marine mammals and tidal turbines: what are the issues of concern and how are they being resolved?

Professor Ben Wilson (Scottish Association of Marine Science).

Renewables offer a solution to many of the UK’s energy problems. Among the more attractive options is to harness the predictable energy contained in the tides. Accordingly tidal turbines, a submarine equivalent to wind turbines, have been developed and tested to the point of being deployable in coastal seas in their tens or even hundreds. Putting new technologies into the environment always brings the risk of unintended harmful environmental impacts. In this illustrated presentation Prof. Ben Wilson will introduce the potential interactions that might occur between tidal turbines and marine mammals (seals, whales, dolphins and porpoises), describe the research that his team have been doing to address the concerns as well as other efforts going on in the UK and further afield. He will also describe some of the interesting insights into marine mammal behaviour that have resulted from research in the high energy sites of interest to renewable energy developers. The talk will be illustrated with pictures and sounds.

8 March 2018

Using drones for monitoring biodiversity & mapping the environment

Dr Paul Scholefield (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster)

Dr Scholefield will talk about the wealth of information obtainable about habitats using sensors on drones. This helps us understand how landscapes change over time and how they are affected by people.

12 April 2018

Images From a Warming Planet

Ashley Cooper (photographer)

Ashley Cooper has spent the last thirteen years travelling to every continent on the planet to document the causes and impacts of climate change and the rise of renewable energy, the only photographer to have done so. This epic journey around the planet has taken him to over 30 countries, from close to the North Pole to the Antarctic, from 18,000 feet in the Bolivian Andes to sinking coral atoll islands in the South Pacific. His new book “Images From a Warming Planet” contains 500 of the best images from the project and has come out to critical acclaim, Jonathon Porritt called the book “An extraordinary collection of images and a powerful call to action”. Ashley is an award winning photo journalist whose work is used in newspapers, magazines and books all around the world.

17 May 2018

Evening visit to the National Trust Nature Reserve at Sandscale Haws to explore the unique dune habitats and to observe the colony of natterjack toads.

Because the toads only start calling after sunset, we will leave Ambleside in the late afternoon, have a 1-2h walk followed by a beachside picnic followed by a visit to the breeding ponds at dusk. Bring a water bottle, waterproof, walking boots (or comfortable wellies) and appropriate clothing. For the picnic, please also bring some finger food to share.

We will be meeting in the lower car park on the Ambleside campus at 16:00hrs. Alternatively you can meet us at the car park at Sandscale Haws, LA14 4QJ, at 17:00hrs.

A small number of members greatly enjoyed this visit on a glorious evening with superb views of the distant Lakeland fells. After a shared picnic supper we were lucky enough to hear from a lone natterjack toad. Photos taken during this visit can be viewed at https://photos.app.goo.gl/9CL4ikJCmv3eZ95W7

2018-9 Meetings

11 October 2018

This lecture is supported by the Ambleside Natural History Society, the Ambleside Conservation Society (our student society), the University of Cumbria and a bequest by Jean and Morison Harding.

Living with Elephants

Lizzie Daly (Wildlife biologist and BBC presenter)

Join Lizzie for a talk on her time in Kenya where blurring the line of elephant and human habitats can lead to fatal clashes between both species. She spent 2 months in the heart of Laikipia where human – elephant conflict is a daily occurrence leaving her to ask the question can we actually coexist alongside elephants for the future? Hear Lizzie’s tales of wildlife, places and people and find out how her experiences on the ground have shaped her research.

8 November 2018

A Tourist Guide to the Universe

Stuart Atkinson (Secretary, Eddington Astronomical Society, Kendal)

A tour of the fascinating worlds of our solar system and beyond, to other stars and galaxies to appreciate our place in the universe, using the very latest photos from space probes and telescopes, computer animations and imagery.

6 December 2018

Wild Ennerdale: into the Future Natural

Tom Burditt (General Manager, National Trust, North Lakes)

Wild Ennerdale is widely considered to be one of the premier “wild land” partnerships in England. We are now into our 16th year towards delivering our ambition of “Ennerdale as a wild valley for the benefit of people, relying more on natural processes to shape its landscape and ecology”.  This talk will look back at why the Wild Ennerdale partnership was formed, how we work, and what some of our achievements have been to date. I will discuss the real world challenges and issues we face, and look forward to what our ambitions and aspirations are for the future.

24 January 2019

Jacobs Join supper and Annual General Meeting followed by showing of members’ best natural history photographs taken during 2018 (no more than six each, brought on a memory stick).

Ambleside Parish Centre, St Mary’s Church, Ambleside LA22 9DH

This meeting begins at 7:00pm. Note also the change of location.

14 February 2019

Working with pine martens

John W Martin (Myotismart Ltd., Wildlife Surveyors)

The talk will describe the species and history to date in the U.K.  It will include the work he has been involved with annually in the Galloway Forest since 2003.  The population recovery generally and specifically in Cumbria will be covered.

14 March 2019 – Meeting cancelled

Changing land management for public payment for public goods

Andrew Herbert (Lake District National Park)

What could “Public payments for public goods” from land management mean for the Lake District and Cumbria? It is one of the key principles in the UK Government’s new policies for land management and the environment. Andrew will describe what people in the Lake District and Cumbria are doing to understand what this could mean and how we are taking forward local action in Cumbria and contributing to national policy development.

11 April 2019

Swifts – the Magic, the Mystery and the Tragedy

Peter Moreton (Project Coordinator for Swifts in the Community)

Swifts engender enthusiasm and imagination like few other birds. This is a talk about how remarkable swifts are, how much we are only just understanding about them and how much we still don’t know. It is also about the plight of swifts, with numbers falling dramatically in recent years,  and how much we can do to ensure they continue to grace our skies.

12 May 2019 (Sunday)

Visit to Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve

Foulshaw Moss is an excellent example of a raised lowland peat bog with unique flora and fauna managed by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust. It is about 20 miles from Ambleside on the left-hand side of the A590 going south just past the Levens turn-off.Information about the reserve can be found at


About a dozen members had a splendid visit with a Jacob’s Join picnic lunch. The Moss has improved enormously in recent years as it slowly returns to its natural state and a wide variety of wildlife is visible.

Highlights of our visit included a sedge warbler singing to us on the raised platform, one of the nesting osprey flying circling overhead and an adder found under almost the last shelter we uncovered. 

Some photos taken during our visit can be found at Foulshaw photos

Photo credits: JB, Jack Ball and RJA, Rebecca Julianne Ashmore.

2019-20 Meetings

10 October 2019

Back on our Map: Species Restoration in South Cumbria

Jo Sayers (University of Cumbria)

ANHS is joining with the University of Cumbria for a presentation evening, at the start of the new BOOM Project led by the University.
Back on Our Map (BOOM) has a new team in place and will be working to restore species to the distinctive lowland fells and coast of south Cumbria. We will work to engage communities in partnership with landowners in practical species re-introductions, reinforcements and habitat improvements. Working across 5000 hectares, project partners Morecambe Bay Partnership, the Forestry Commission, Natural England and Cumbria Wildlife Trust, we will focus on 12 species of plants, mammals, birds and invertebrates.
Come and meet the team and talk to us about how you might like to get involved, refreshments provided.

This evening is free to members and visitors.

14 November 2019

South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project

Philip Monro

The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project aims to reinforce the small, isolated and vulnerable population of Golden Eagles in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway. Through a series of translocations over a period of 5 years, we will look to increase numbers and prevent the loss of this majestic bird from Southern Skies.

12 December 2019

Morecambe Bay – an underwater safari

Gordon Fletcher (Diver and photographer)

It is easy to think the waters of Morecambe Bay are just cold, muddy and almost lifeless when it is in fact a rich and dynamic environment fed and driven by some of the highest tidal ranges around the UK and home to a multitude of often colourful marine creatures. This talk uses underwater photos taken in the Bay with first-hand experience to give an insight into the variety and lifestyles of many of these creatures.

23 January 2020

Jacobs Join supper and Annual General Meeting followed by showing of members’ best natural history photographs taken during 2019 (no more than ten each, brought on a memory stick).

Ambleside Parish Centre, St Mary’s Church, Ambleside LA22 9DH

This meeting begins at 7:00pm. Note also the change of location.

13 February 2020

Land management in an iconic upland landscape

Pete Barron (John Muir Trust)

John Muir Trust, through its commitment to protect and enhance wild land, has taken a lease for the management of Glenridding Common (Helvellyn) and aims to add value to previous management of the site through footpath maintenance, enhancement of the arctic-alpine flora and juniper woodland and other special qualities with opportunities for volunteers and education through the John Muir Award

12 March 2020

The return of beavers to Cumbria

Heather Devey (Beaver Project Officer, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Haweswater)

Eurasian beavers will be returning to Cumbria, with approval of the enclosed release of beavers onto the Lowther Estate near Penrith. Evidence from trials elsewhere in the UK show that they offer great benefits, including flood risk alleviation, improved water quality, habitat creation for other wildlife and increased revenue for the local economy through nature-based tourism. This is the first trial in an upland area in the UK.

There will be an opportunity to ask questions about beavers and the Cumbria reintroduction project after the talk.

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