London Natural History Society The place for wildlife in London

London Natural History Society - The place for wildlife in London

LNHS Events - Online Only

The LNHS has suspended its indoor and outdoor events to follow the guidance of the UK Government which has introduced social distancing measures to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19). We will continue to monitor the situation and LNHS events will resume when this is compatible with the advice issued by the UK Government. We will publicise resumption of events using the LNHS social media channels (including email groups). Your patience is appreciated and we hope everyone will stay safe.

In the meantime, please check out our new Virtual Natural History Talk series.

The LNHS events programme is one of the most varied and active of a natural history society. Its field and indoor meetings encourage the interaction of beginners and experienced naturalists.

The LNHS programme for Mar 2020 to Sep 2020 can be downloaded as a PDF format file.

Indoor events

These usually consist of talks, slide shows or discussions. Indoor meetings are held at several venues:

  • Burgh House, Hampstead, is a new venue which the Bird Club are using for indoor meetings. See the map here, and their website. Handy tip - If you want to visit the Burgh House museum and exhibitions first, and maybe the charming little garden and The Buttery Cafe, but realise that there is an hour and a half between the house and cafe closing and first arrivals for the talk at 6.30pm (for a 7pm start), there is a very civilised pub (The Wells) opposite the house, not to mention the delights of the rest of Hampstead (inc. the Heath if you fancy an evening walk), just minutes away.
  • Seminar and Learning Centre, Sherfield Building, Imperial College (South Kensington, SW7 2AZ) is labelled as building no.20 on this Map. Walking from South Kensington Underground station, take the pedestrian tunnel that leads towards the museums. Follow the tunnel to its furthest extent. On leaving the tunnel in Exhibition Road, turn left to reach the college campus.

Outdoor events

These are field meetings or guided tours. Lunch and Tea should be brought on all whole-day meetings. You do not need to have a car - where the programme says 'cars needed' this is to remind drivers they will need to pick up people at the station or meeting point. At meetings involving cars, those receiving lifts are expected to contribute to the cost of petrol used.

Coach trips

These go to well-known wildlife sites in the South and East of England. Bookings must be made in advance using the booking form that is mailed to members. It can also be downloaded here. Members can bring guests (at the same rate per person) so long as they are included on the booking form. The coach trip organiser is Neil Anderson Tel: (020) 8578 2464.

Members are asked not to travel to coach meetings independently, although in some cases the organiser may be prepared to allow this if application is made in advance.

Coaches normally leave from the road alongside the south entrance to Embankment Underground station. Occasionally they can pick up at a second point en route on the outskirts of London (check with organiser). Bear in in mind that engineering work and weekend line closures are taking place on the Underground - please check in advance whether your route to Embankment station will be affected.

The LHNS hold field events on most weekends and occasionally mid-week. Some are half-days, some are full-days. They are an excellent place in which you can try out, develop and hone your identification skills. There is no fee payable to the LNHS. But some sites may require non-members to pay an entrance fee. The large majority of the field meetings are held at sites which can be reached fairly easily using public transport. Beginners are very welcome. 
The field events cover a wide range of natural history topics and the LNHS programme <insert hyperlink> should be viewed for more details.
Some of the field events are published in the quarterly LNHS newsletter. A few extracts from these published trip reports have been provided below to provide a flavour of what is to be expected. All of the extracts below are from the winter quarter to reinforce the point that London and its environs are surprisingly good for biodiversity all year round. 

Botany, September, London Bridge

‘…….. After we had lunch seating on benches surrounding a dry pool in Little Dorrit Park (a location that added only a lonely Tomato Solanum lycopersicum to the list) we made our way to Wellar Street and Bittern Street. Here there were some large containers planted with vegetables. While we were examining the weeds growing between the sweet potatoes, the courgettes and the spinach, we were approached by the person who had planted them, Auntie Doris. She was surprised to be told that the weed she had disposed of, Common Chickweed Stellaria media, was itself an edible plant. Indeed in Japan Chickweed (Hakobe, in Japanese) is one of the seven herbs of spring that are traditionally eaten on 7th January in the Nanakusa no sekku (the Seven herbs Festival). We had quite a long conversation with Auntie Doris because we were momentarily abandoned by our leader Nick who had realised that he had left his mobile on the bench where we had lunch and had to frantically retrace his steps to recover that essential modern life device. On leaving Auntie Doris we had to queue up because she wanted to hug all of us one by one.
With our leader happily re-joined with his mobile, we moved along Great Suffolk street, noticing at a garden’s edge a seedling of Golden Rain tree Koelreuteria paniculata. The parent tree was nearby, with its distinctive three-parted inflated bladder-like fruits. We sped through some more housing estate green areas, stopping only to pay our respects to an old friend of our leader, a straggling seedling of Black Mulberry Morus nigra. Apparently Nick has known this individual seedling for a decade but, because it is regularly hacked by over-enthusiastic gardeners, it is still hardly a metre tall. We entered St. George’s churchyard gardens, where we found the sharply keeled leaves of Three-cornered Leek Allium triquetrum, the supposedly more-strongly stinging Annual Nettle Urtica urens and finally Vervain Verbena officinalis with its tiny flowers. This last plant was highly thought of in older times, as it was believed that it possessed medicinal and even magical powers. In Latin ‘officinalis’ means ‘of the apothecary’s shop’……’

London Bird Club, October, Two Trees Island

The tide was coming in quickly as we ate lunch at the pillbox at the east end of the island, bringing Brent Geese, Grey Plover, Curlew and around 50 Little Egrets closer to us. We stopped at the hide by the reedy lake and appropriately saw at least three Reed Buntings. The tide was such that there was no mud at the slipway and we did not linger there but carried on to the hide overlooking the lagoon at the west end of the island.
There was already a good gathering of waders but they were almost immediately disturbed by a Short-eared Owl flying over. Our first view was perhaps the best but during our hour or so in the hide it appeared three or four more times over the sea wall on the mainland side of the creek. The most numerous waders this year were Dunlin and Ringed Plover with Knot only flying in later. There were also good numbers of Grey Plover and Lapwing. Perhaps because of the owl the waders seemed quite jumpy though the 10 or so Snipe adopted the alternative tactic of hiding in the vegetation.
The regular rearrangements gave us a good chance of finding all the species present. Most of the Avocets stayed in a group of around 50 at the far end of the lagoon but a few more active ones were scattered around. There were at least 12 Greenshank, a single Bar-tailed and several Black-tailed Godwits. A few Golden Plover looked particularly handsome in the low afternoon sun.

Ecology and Entomology, October, Spider Foray in Gunnersbury Triangle

‘…….Some blue webs of Amaurobius sp. and the ‘spokes of a wheel’ web of Segestria senoculata were immediately pointed out on the hut itself. The group walked down the path into the reserve and soon found some large well-marked Garden Spiders (Araneus diadematus) on their orb webs, as well as some smaller Metellina segmentata web-spinners; both sexes of the latter were found sharing a web, as is often the case. There was some discussion of the difference between the sexes in spiders, and some members of the group were horrified to have it confirmed that after sex some female spiders kill and eat their mates, but were quietly amused to learn that in other species the low nutritive value of the males mean that she doesn’t bother……’