2017 AGM

Don’t forget our Annual General Meeting at 10:30a.m on Saturday 29th April.
It’s at Christ Church hall in Cheltenham, on the junction between Malvern Road and Christ Church Road. The post code is GL50 2JH for those with satnavs and map ref SO940223 for those without. Or you could just ask someone.

Peregrine, Christ Church Cheltenham, April 2017

I’d go to the Raptors talk if I could find a babysitter…

The speaker is Andrew Bluett of the Gloucestershire Raptor Monitoring Group, giving us an update on the county’s raptors.
Afterwards you might get a sight of the local Peregrines flying around the church tower. Once again, they are incubating a clutch of four eggs


On Wednesday 23rd November Mary Colwell is in Gloucester talking about Curlews and their severe decline.

Mary is a writer and produer for the BBC Wildlife Unit who has recently undertaken a 500-mile sponsored walk around the UK and Ireland to draw attention to the plight of this species.

Not only have Curlews seriously declined in the UK and Ireland, but we have a large proportion of the worldwide population anyway.

Weds 23rd November, 7:30pm at the Gala Club, Fairmile Gardens, Gloucester GL2 9EB, just off the A38.
Admission free, but donations welcome on the night.

Red Listed

Turtle Dove Richard Tyler

Turtle Dove                                                                          Richard Tyler

This Saturday (16th April) sees the African Bird Club AGM at the Natural History Museum in London.  There are half-a-dozen associated talks, and the event is open to members and non-members alike.

Of particular interest to us here in the Cotswolds is a talk on Turtle Doves in their wintering grounds in Senegal by Niki Williamson. Fewer and fewer of these birds visit the UK in summer.  They are now scarcely seen in Gloucestershire and no longer breed in the county at all.

Curlew Richard Tyler

Curlew                                                                                         Richard Tyler

And closer to home, don’t forget our own AGM this Weds (13th April) at the Farmers Arms, Guiting Power at 7:30.  Our guest speaker is Mike Smart, the county’s previous BTO rep, on ‘The Decline of the Curlew’  – very topical with members of the Society involved in the RSPB Curlew survey at the moment.

Indoor and Outdoor Meetings

New Bridge Lane

New Bridge Lane

We have an outdoor meeting at Bourton-on-the-Water gravel pits this Sunday. The winter wildfowl are beginning to come in, and the Red Kite are increasing. Meet up at the Rissington Road lay-by at 9a.m. We’ll probably have a look at the marshland near New Bridge Lane as well (see photo). Likely to be muddy.

There are also a couple of good indoor meetings in the area (or in Gloucestershire at least). Most, I think, are a couple of pounds for non-members.

On Thurs 5th November Painswick Bird Club host a joint meeting with the Gloucestershire Naturalists Society at Painswick Town Hall (7:30). Jim Almond the wildlife photographer talks about Bird Reserves of the north Norfolk coast – a hot-spot if ever there was one.

On Fri 13th November Gloucestershire Naturalists Society’s speaker is Chris Sperring MBE (Hawk and Owl Trust) on British Owls, their natural history and conservation. This is at Watermoor church hall  (no.4 on map), Cirencester at 7:30.

The next day members of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust hold their AGM at the University of Gloucestershire (Park Campus) in Cheltenham. Adam Hart, Professor of Science Communication is the keynote speaker there.

We also have an indoor meeting at the Farmers Arms, Guiting Power on Fri 27th November for a skittles evening.

Come and Talk about Birds in the Pub

Join us on Wednesday 15th October at the Golden Heart, Nettleton Bottom from 7:30pm.

As well as catching up on the gossip, we’ll be talking about common birds and how well we feel they’re doing here in the Cotswolds.  Sure, it’s unscientific, but it might pop out a couple of questions about species that we should look out for or survey more rigorously.

The Golden Heart is here on the A417 between Cirencester and Gloucester (thanks OpenStreetMap). For satnavs the post-code is GL4 8LA and map ref SO943137.

Nest Recording

An excellent talk from Ed Drewitt on Urban Peregrines last night at our AGM. Also a chance to meet various Forest of Dean volunteers from the RSPB’s Peregrine site at Symond’s Yat – thanks for making the long trip, and all crammed into a single car!


You looking at my nest? You’ll need a Schedule 1 licence                                          Photo: Dave Pearce

Our own (‘our own’…!) urban Peregrines in Cheltenham are progressing well this year with four eggs laid in early April. We will be watching closely for developments in the nest over the next few weeks, and putting video clips on this website.

Recording what happens in nests gives a whole new view of birds that you don’t get from simply spotting them. Date of laying, clutch size and nestling survival rates give an insight into a bird’s breeding biology, and also shed light on the environment around it.

It’s even better if you happen to have a huge database stretching back many years to compare with. The British Trust for Ornithology’s Nest Recording Scheme is 75 years old this year (NCOS has been contributing to it as a group for 10 years). As well as looking at how different species are doing at present, it means the team is able to look back and chart timelines. UK Peregrines, for instance, declined through the 1950s and 1960s: they laid the same number of eggs as before, but fewer hatched. This led to the examination of the nests and eggs, and the discovery of thinner eggshells, and then to the link with pesticides in eggshells. They recovered later (same number of eggs but more hatched) and started moving into urban areas around the millenium.

Anyone can record nests, whether in the countryside or in your back garden nestbox, and this is the time of year to get involved. Check out NRS News: this is the 2013 breeding season – why not contribute to the 2014 version?

2014 Meeting Programme

Each year I tell myself I should get the meeting Programme out before December. Each year the time taken to finalise it seems to expand to fill the space between the initial draft and the final version.

Goldfinch, Gawcombe

Finally the 2014 programme is complete (bar a deferred decision on where we go this time next year). Members will be receiving their copies shortly. If you are not a member and are interested in seeing what we have planned there is a summary here. Details will be posted on that page as the events approach. If you are interested in coming along, please contact the Membership Secretary who will be pleased to give you more information.



I refuse to talk about mists and stuff. Instead, go over the site and see what’s in store this month. This includes a walk in the Fairford/Quenington area; an informal gathering to discuss population trends in our region; and a plea to those birding near water to keep an eye open for colour ringed Canada Geese.

Any bright ideas for next year’s field meetings?

I would have liked to have begun this by saying something along the lines of now summer’s drawing to a close, but I can’t remember when it was – 10.17 three weeks ago last Wednesday? Anyway, it’s that time of year when our thoughts turn to next year’s meeting programme.

We’ll shortly be starting the process of arranging next year’s field programme. If there are areas you think might be of interest to members and that we should visit, we’d like to hear your suggestions (including the best time to visit). Don’t worry – suggesting a site won’t necessarily mean you have to lead the outing!  We’d also be interested in suggestions for the annual August “away day”. Or any other ideas.

If you have ideas please leave them in the comments or email the Society at info (at) ncosbirds.org.uk