Forthcoming Events


Blacktoft Sands RSPB Reserve

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Friday 1 March 2024 at 09:30

RSPB Blacktoft Sands Nature Reserve, Ousefleet, Goole, DN14 8HL

Booking Link

Blacktoft Sands is part of the exciting complex of habitats around the Humber estuary. The tidal reedbed is the largest in England and is important for its breeding Bearded Tits, Marsh Harriers and Bitterns. It is also home to the largest concentration of Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings in northern England as well as hundreds of species of rare and specialist insects. The reserve has saline lagoons, which are rare in Europe and are an ideal habitat for a variety of breeding and migrant waders, including Avocets. The grazing marsh is important for wintering ducks and breeding waders and the willow scrub provides food and nest sites for Tree Sparrows and Whitethroats. Over 270 species of bird have been recorded on the reserve and 60 of these have bred. The reserve has six observation hides, a reception centre, a picnic area, toilets and a car park.
Booking is by email annmiles70@gmail.com. Further details from Ann Miles 07710383586
This can be combined with trip to Far Ings Reserve on Saturday

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Far Ings National Nature Reserve

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Saturday 2 March 2024 at 09:30

Far Ings Road Barton-upon-Humber North Lincolnshire DN18 5RG

Booking Link

Far Ings is situated on the south bank of the Humber Estuary, a major east-west flyway for migrating birds. The sight and sound of a skein of geese flying over is spectacular.
The pits and reedbeds at Far Ings and along the Humber bank are a legacy of the tile and cement industry which flourished between 1850 and 1959. Thanks to pioneering management by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, the reserve is now rich in wildlife and one of the UK strongholds for bittern. It is possible to hear them ‘booming’ in the spring from around March. A good location to try is the double decker hide at Ness End Farm, bitterns are seen from here on a regular but infrequent basis – they are very shy birds and good at hiding.
There is car park, toilets and visitor centre
Booking by email annmiles70@gmail.com. further details AnnMiles 07710383586
This can be combined with the visit to Blacktoft Sands on Friday

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Slimbridge WWT Reserve

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Tuesday 12 March 2024 at 09:30

WWT Slimbridge, Bowditch, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, GL2 7BT

Booking Link

WWT Slimbridge is a wetland reserve situated close to Slimbridge village near to Dursley, Gloucestershire. It was the first Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) to be opened, on the 10th of November 1946, due to the vision of Sir Peter Scott.
Slimbridge Wetland Centre cares for and studies ducks, geese and swans of the world and offers excellent opportunity for bird watchers and photography.
it covers 3 square kilometres of which 500,000 square metres has been landscaped and is open to the public. Some of this has captive wildfowl but there are large areas of wild habitat with Kingfishers, Water Rail and all kinds of other wild birds to observe and photograph. Our visit coincides with a Spring tide so the waders etc should be pushed up towards the hides giving good photographic opportunities. .
Ticket With Gift Aid Without Gift Aid
Adult £17.50 £15.90
65+, £15.75 £14.31
Group entry if more than 12 paying people in our group £13.50
Booking and Enquiries by email to David.Oneill_NH@outlook.com

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Verulamium Park, St Albans

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Saturday 16 March 2024 at 08:00

Westminster Lodge Car Park, Holywell Hill, St Albans, AL12DJ, Hertfordshire

Booking Link

Verulamium Park is a public park in the City of St Albans, Hertfordshire. Along with being a wide open area for recreational purposes, the park includes all that is left of a Roman settlement from which the park takes its name. The park is one of only a few places to see close-up views of nesting grey herons in the eastern region though the population has decreased in recent years. There is also a sizeable population of Coots and Moorhens who at this time of year squabble endlessly for the best breeding sites. Obviously each year is different but for the last three years herons have been active at the nest site on this equivalent weekend.
We will meet in the park by the lakeside. I intend to arrive at 8 am to get the early light but I will send you directions and a map to find the lake etc so you can arrive when you wish. Booking email Ann Miles
Image: Penny Reeves


Hares on Havergate Island

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Friday 22 March 2024 at 10:00  —  Sunday 24 March 2024 at 16:00

Orford Suffolk

David O'Neill has organised trips to Havergate Island on Friday and Sunday , primarily for those who booked last year and could not go across to the island due to the weather conditions. However there are a few places still available and also the possibility of a second boat on Sunday. If you would like to come on the trips please email David as soon as possible, stating which days you are free
Here are the details: As a private group booking we have been offered the RSPB members price of £19 per head for a group of 12, but are expected to fill the boat.
This is a private booking where we will be free to explore the hides and trails at our own pace.
After the 20 minute boat journey from Orford Quay we will spend around 5 hours exploring this unique island in the Alde-Ore estuary before returning by boat to Orford.
Hares can be seen all year round, but there may be opportunities to see a variety of ducks, gulls, terns and wading birds in spring with the possibility of early arriving spoonbills which have recently started breeding on the island.
The RSPB recommends stout footwear, warm clothing, wet weather clothing and sun protection at all times of year.
You need to have a reasonable level of fitness for this trip because it requires getting on and off the boat and a lot of walking on uneven and sometimes muddy ground on the island.
There are no refreshments available on the island and we each need to bring our own food and drink for this trip. There is one public toilet on the island.
The RSPB boat 'October Storm' will depart Orford Quay at 10am and will return to Orford Quay by 3.20pm.
Please ensure you arrive at Orford in good time and leave your car at the pay-and-display car park situated close to the quay.
Organiser: David.Oneill_NH@outlook.com
Image: Hares on Havergate Ann Miles

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My Wood

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Saturday 23 March 2024 at 16:30

Zoom

David Tipling

Booking Link

David will tell the story of how he has transformed his 4 acre wood in to an outdoor photographic studio for bird photography. Then in 2022 he built an artificial badger sett and adopted six orphaned badgers. Not everything went to plan, David will recall the highs and lows of releasing the badgers into the wild and his subsequent photographic project as he attempted to document their lives.
He is one of the World’s most widely published wildlife photographers renowned for his artistic images of birds. TV and film work have seen appearances in front of the camera on Springwatch and The One Show, while David has worked behind hhe camera making short films and with author Jonathan Franzen on the documentary Emptying the Skies.
For 16 years David was a judge for the British Birds Bird Photographer of the Year and was a judge for Bird Photographer of the Year (BPOTY) for 6 years. He currently judges Wild Art Photographer of the Year (WPOTY).


Photographing Spring Flowers

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Saturday 6 April 2024 at 10:00

Cambridgeshire etc

Booking Link

An opportunity to learn or practise flower photography at the best time of year for isolating plants from backgrounds and softer light. The locations will be decided nearer the time but will include Cambridgeshire Boulder clay woodland, home of the Oxlip a species that otherwise grows in the Burren in Ireland or the Alps. If it is an early year there should be insects active and the Pasque flower on the chalk downland may also be in flower. Please register interest on the booking link


RPS Nature AGM and Exhibition

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Saturday 20 April 2024 at 10:00

Smethwick Photographic Society, Old Schoolhouse, Churchbridge,Oldbury

Robert Thompson FRPS

10:00hrs Doors open, tea and coffee available
10:30hrs Welcome and Introduction by RPS Nature Group Chair, Duncan Locke ARPS
10:40hrs Presentation by Natural History Photographer, Author & Conservationist and NG
Member Robert Thompson FRPS FIPF
12:15hrs Break for Lunch and to look at the Exhibition
13:15hrs 48th Annual General Meeting of the RPS Nature Group
Agenda:
1. Apologies for Absence
2. Minutes of the 47th AGM 2023 (printed in Issue 146 of ‘The Iris’ - Summer 2023)
3. Matters arising
4. Chair’s Report
5. Treasurer’s Report
6. Secretary’s Report
7. Programme Coordinator’s Report
8. Any Other Business
9. Date and Venue of the 49th AGM 2025
14:00hrs Opening of the 2024 Nature Group Exhibition
Presentation of the Awards
Projection of the accepted images
16:15hrs Close


RSPB Sandwell Valley

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Sunday 21 April 2024 at 09:00

RSPB Sandwell Valley, Tanhouse Avenue, Great Barr, Birmingham, B43 5AG

Close to Smethwick where we are holding the 2024 AGM with a Lecture by Robert Thompson FRPS, a top-notch wildlife photographer, and showing the 2024 Nature Group Exhibition on the Saturday, so why not stay locally and make a weekend of it.
It has full visitor facilities and, with a rich variety of natural habitats, Sandwell Valley is home to a huge array of wildlife. In spring and summer, warblers and Reed Buntings nest around our lake. Fluffy Lapwing chicks make an appearance, while bees and butterflies make the most of the flowers in the wildlife garden.
(Image Dave Belton)


Potteric Carr Nature Reserve

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Wednesday 24 April 2024 at 09:00

Potteric Carr Nature Reserve Visitor Centre, Mallard Way, Doncaster, DN4 8DB

Booking Link

Potteric Carr is a wild oasis just waiting to be explored. Now nestling between motorway and railway, it's a remnant of the vast fenland that once stretched all the way across the Humber basin to the coast. Potteric Carr attracts a huge number of wetland birds and is especially exciting during spring and autumn with migrating birds passing through.
There are good facilities there open from 9am. Full instructions given to those who book a place on this trip
Email peter.ward448@btinternet.com to book a place.


Barnack Hills and Holes

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Saturday 11 May 2024 at 10:00

Barnack Hills & Holes National Nature Reserve 14 Saxon Road, Barnack PE9 3EQ

Arising from the rubble of a mediaeval quarry, Barnack Hills and Holes is one of Britain’s most important wildlife sites. Over 300 kinds of wild plant have been found on the Hills and Holes, including eight species of orchids. One of the rarest plants found here is the Pasque flower, which blooms in April and May, alongside more familiar flowers such as violets and cowslip. Orchids found last year include the Man Orchid, Early Spotted and Common Spotted Orchids etc. A leisurely day seeking out good subjects for photography and honing our flower and, hopefully if a warm day, insect photography skills. There is a pub in the village within walking distance for drinks and toilet facilities. (Image Mike Harris). To book or enquiries, email: annmiles70@gmail.com


St Aiden's Nature Park

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Sunday 12 May 2024 at 09:00

RSPB St Aiden’s Nature Park, Astley Lane, Leeds, LS26 8AL, West Yorkshire

https://www.rspb.org.uk/days-out/reserves/st-aidans

Booking Link

St Aiden’s is a large (nearly 900 acres) RSPB nature park between Leeds and Castleford, West Yorkshire. It was an open cast coal mine until it was finally closed in 2002. Towards the end of its working life the open cast mine would flood from the nearby River Aire. The site is now very well run by the RSPB but it is also a public park. They have a visitor centre/cafe and toilets. The reserve has marsh harriers, bitterns, bearded tits, hirundines, northern lapwing, shoveler, redshank, common terns and many other birds but their star attraction, the black-necked grebe also breeds here; around 25% of the national population.
I have chosen this date so that we have a chance to photograph these very smart birds with their chicks. I suggest we meet at the gates to the reserve early at 6am when the site opens. You will need your RSPB pass to park for free, otherwise there is a small charge – last time I looked it was £4 for the day. The full address is Astley Lane, Leeds, LS26 8AL
Please contact brucekendrick58@gmail.com if you intend to come along.


RPS Nature Group Summer Residential trip to Yorkshire including Diving Gannets and Bempton Cliffs

Wednesday 5 June 2024 at 09:00  —  Monday 10 June 2024 at 09:00

Dates: Wednesday 5th – Monday 10th June 2024
Contact jamesfoadlrps@proton.me
FULLY BOOKED

Featured Items


Winner of January's Competition

Congratulations to Brian Boyes on winning January's Monthly Competition with his excellent image Eurasian Otter Family, taken in November 2023 on Loch Na Keal, Isle of Mull.

Please click here, or on the image above, to view a gallery of the high-scoring entries from the competition.

The results of February's competition will be published here in due course.


2023 Nature Group Exhibition

The 2023 Nature Group Exhibition is now online.  Please click here, or on the carousel above, to view it.


Winner of December's Competition

Congratulations to Stewart Haynes on winning December's Monthly Competition with his well-timed image Lilac-breasted Roller with Frog, taken in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia in May 2023.

Please click here, or on the image above, to view a gallery of the high-scoring entries from the competition.

The results of January's competition will be published here in due course.


Photographing Bats by Andrew McCarthy

This is the link to andrew McCarthy's excellent talk on Photographing Bats

https://youtu.be/ieGatwcxf_0


Winner of November's Monthly Competition

Congratulations to Gianpiero Ferrari on winning November's Monthly Competition with his image Hard Working Blue Tit.

Please click here, or on the image above, to view a gallery of the high-scoring entries from the competition.

The results of December's competition will be published here in due course.


Winner of October's Monthly Competition

Congratulations to Kevin Pigney on winning the inaugural Monthly Competition with his image Brown Hares Boxing.

Please click here, or on the image above, to view a gallery of the high-scoring entries from the competition.


Noise Reduction and Sharpening Talk

The Recording of the recent talk "Noise Reduction and Sharpening - The Sequel" by Ian Wilson ARPS is is now available on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/JX7G4VTB-Ac


IMPORTANT INFORMATION


You have been linked for Nature Group Events to what is now the Nature Group's main Portal for displaying our Events, and for Members to take part in lots of extra activities such as the Monthly Competition, a Lightbox for your images, Forums to exchange ideas, sell items etc and Critique groups. It is now ready for Members to Register so please go to Register and follow the prompts.

We hope you will all enjoy the new Members' area. (Canada Goose by Chris Holt)


Monthly Competition

The Monthly competition started in October, so watch this space for the monthly image voted the group's favourite

News and Information


Summer Leys February 2024

(Stonechat Male by Jane Moore

Eight members of the Nature Group braved the heavy rain and flooded roads to visit Summer Leys Wild Trust reserve on Sunday 18th February. The weather improved quickly with sunshine and the occasional shower for the rest of the day. We were aware that all the heavy rain would result in rising water levels later in the day as proved true!

We spent the lost of the  morning in the Pioneer Hide enjoying photographing an obliging pair of Stonechats and three not so confiding Little Grebes though we did get one opportunity when one of the trio came close and free of the  reeds.  
Some of the group walked up to the bird feeding station through ankle deep water but, as it was obvious the water was rising, others drove up the side lane and, certainly by the time we left early afternoon this hide was just about inaccessible. 
The time spent in watching the birds coming to the feeding areas was very rewarding with all the common species plus Siskins, an early singing Chiffchaff and a very acrobatic Sparrowhawk.

See Gallery RPSNature - Summer Leys February 18th 2024


Nature Group 2-Day Visit to Deeside

The two-day event Parkgate and Hoylake to witness the exceptional high spring tides event proved popular once again. Parkgate, on the Wirral coast of the Dee estuary is a favourite spot for photographers to capture some graphic images. The Dee estuary at Parkgate is now salt marsh. Hidden channels fill up with the tide but when these channels are full the incoming water overflows at speed. 
 
As we witnessed, especially on the higher tide on Monday, where it does spill over, it travels at a very fast walking pace and in volume. Rodents, in our case shrews, voles, mice, moles and even rats frantically swim to the safety of higher higher ground, the sandstone promenade, only to be picked off by their natural predators. Gulls, crows, egrets as well as raptors have a field day. 
 
Hoylake, on the other hand, 20 minutes away from Parkgate lies on the north Wirral shore and offers refuge for waders from all over Liverpool Bay. High tide hits these shores a good 45 minutes before Parkgate.  Large mixed wader flocks, up to 10,000 birds have been recorded, of knot, sanderling, dunlin and grey plover twist and turn before settling on what's left of the mud banks. When these are finally covered by these exceptional spring tides the flock will wait patiently, waiting for the tide to ebb, very close to the promenade at Hoylake. Unfortunately this grassy area is often used by dog-walkers though most heed the many notices along the promenade requesting them to let the birds settle and rest. 

Many thanks to Bruce Kendrick for organising this very successful event

See Gallery  RPSNature - Parkgate11/12 February           RPSNature - Hoylake 11/12 February 2024


Visit to WWT Reserve Cambridgeshire

On Sunday January 28th,  a party of 15 Nature Group Members and local nature photographers met  for a day photographing in the main hides overlooking the Ouse Washes and on a walk around Lady Fen. Those who arrived early had good views of Kestrel and Cattle Egrets on Lady Fen though the birds were more distant and not as abundant as in previous visits. This was true for much of the day. Once the Visitor Centre was open we spent the morning visiting the hides (just about all open for the first time in a couple of months with the high rainfall). As usual, plenty of duck activity to keep our cameras clicking plus a large flock of Black-tailed Godwit (Image by John Kirkelionis)

We returned to the cafe for a welcome lunch before returning to the reserve to explore and take more photographs. In the afternoon, some people revisited the Hides while others took a walk round Lady fen - unfortunately no hares this visit but Chinese Water Deer, a pair of Buzzards, and lots of Egrets kept us entertained.

Several returned to the hides for the sunset - some good colours on the water but not as good skies as we hoped. So overall an enjoyable day and certainly very sociable event with WWT very keen to make us welcome. See Gallery at RPSNature - Welney 28th january 2024


Wet and Windy Wicken Fen

The forecast for our visit to Wicken deteriorated as the day approached and most people decided to give the trip a miss. As I was already at Wicken, I continued the morning plan by hurrying between hides while the rain was a bit lighter and fortunately the wind was behind me. Lots of atmospheric shots of Coots, moorhens and ducks of various types battling the wind and horizontal rain.

In the afternoon, the rain had stopped and the sky started to clear but the wind was much stronger and, at times, was strong enough to make remaining upright a difficulty. Amazingly Kestrels, Marsh Harriers and Short-eared Owls were in the skies but mainly at a distance. As I was departing, at the height of the gale. john arrived and stayed through to sunset though by then the wind was too strong for much aerial activity.  Lots to photographincluding Herons, Goldfinches, Starlings, Jackdaws and, of course, the iconic Ponies.


North Norfolk Weekend

Seven members participated in one or both of the days at Hunstanton on Saturday and Titchwell on Sunday  18th/19th November. The forecast for the two days of frequent rain showers proved inaccurate as it was almost entirely dry though cloudy most of the time. Hunstanton was amazing for the sheer numbers of waders, gulls, geese, fulmars etc and the variety of wader species. Titchwell had a lot less to look at but there were star species to keep us happy such as a party of six Snow Buntings, a Goosander and Spoonbills.(Images by Bruce Kendrick and KevinPigney)


Bradgate Park Comes Up Trumps

For the first time in several years of running this annual visit to Bradgate Park we had perfect weather with a beautiful sunset on the Sunday evening followed by a misty sunrise on Monday. Lots of Rutting Red and Fallow stags bellowing and clashing antlers plus a few toadstools to direct the cameras at (Stag, Greg Lovett; Misty Sunrise, Dave Belton).


Abundant Fungi at Brandon


Spiders Enjoy Very Hot RSPB Lakenheath

A group of Nature Group Members visited Lakenheath on Thursday. With the temperature around 30 degrees, most insects and birds were sheltering  away fron the sun but the Dragonflies and, especially, the  Spiders relished the hot conditions. We watched the courtship rituals of the spiders some ending in disaster for the males but at least one successful attempt.