Tudor Birds of Prey Day – Saturday 17 August

OrganiserJohn Moore Museum
DateSaturday 17th August 2019
TimeFour sessions to choose from:
10.00am to 11.15am
11.45am to 1pm
2pm to 3.15pm
3.45pm to 5pm
VenueJohn Moore Museum, 41 Church Street, Tewkesbury, GL20 5SN
DetailsFalconry was an incredibly popular sport in Tudor times and was enjoyed by all social classes.  If you were rich, a beautiful, big and rare bird could be a status symbol to help display your wealth, provide you with sport, and secure you another interesting dish to serve at your table.  If you were poor, a goshawk could help you feed your family.  The hawks had to be used to people, and for this reason people carried them everywhere.   At a time when it was the height of bad manners to take your dog into dinner with you, hawking treatises advised owners to keep their birds on their fist at the table.

Henry VIII was a keen falconer and Anne Boleyn even had a crowned white falcon as part of her badge.  The Heraldic meaning of the Falcon/Hawk is One who does not rest until objective achieved and is often found on the coats of arms of kings and nobles.

Visit the museum and learn how important birds of prey were to the Tudors, plus you’ll meet a Kestrel, a Buzzard, a Peregrine Falcon, a Barn Owl, an Eagle Owl and a Little Owl.

A costumed falconer from Midlands-based J.R.C.S Falconry will tell you all about these amazing creatures, the ancient art of falconry and answer all your questions.

This is an ideal activity for families and especially those with children studying the Tudors at school.

Adults £6.00 / Seniors & Students £4.50 / Children £2
(Tickets include admission to the John Moore Museum & The Old Baptist Chapel).

Notes for editorsContact: Simon Lawton (Curator) – very happy to give interviews
E-Mail: [email protected]
Website: www.johnmooremuseum.org
Telephone: 01684 297174

Open Day – Prinknash Monastery Walled Garden – 7th August

Open Day with Activities for Children at Prinknash Monastery Walled Garden

Stroud Valleys Project will be holding an open day at Prinknash Monastery Walled Garden on Wednesday 7 August 10.30am – 3pm. Stroud Valleys Project have been working at the Prinknash Monastery Walled Garden for 6 months now and this is a superb opportunity to see all the great work that’s been done.

At the open day, Stroud Valleys Project volunteers will be working in the walled butterfly garden and will be joined by Butterfly Conservation (https://butterfly-conservation.org/) and Back from the Brink (https://naturebftb.co.uk/), and together we will answer all your questions on butterflies, plants and conservation. There will be activities for children and the monastery café will be open for lunch, drinks and cakes. It all promises to be a great event for the family.

This is a free event (just show up on the day) but donations are very welcome indeed.

Prinknash is off the A46, the road between Stroud and Cheltenham.

Launch of the Life Map in Gloucestershire – 23 April

On 23rd April 2019 at 2:30pm in the Collaborative Lecture Theatre, Oxstalls Business School, University of Gloucestershire we will be holding the launch of The Life Map for Gloucestershire as part of a programme of events across the UK.

The Life Map is able to provide information about the Sustainable Life Indicators and we will be presenting the base information regarding Life on Land. The Life Map is able to identify the resources for which each Community is responsible, how these resources can be assessed, and how achievements can be acknowledged. The Life Map provides the explanation as to why the bird counts for Gloucestershire are so important.

The Life on Land material provides a foundation for managing clean air, clean water & food and acts as a precedent for other Indicators addressing other land uses and the quality of human life (see further information attached).

Tickets (no charge) can be obtained by registering at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/national-launch-of-the-life-map-tickets-58424592529. Location details are available on the weblink and in the attached invitation.

Protection of ground-nesting birds

This year, as in 2018, we have been erecting signs to protect ground-nesting birds at popular places in the Severn and Avon Vales, asking ramblers and dog-walkers to keep to footpaths and to keep their animals under control. The signs have been produced with financial support from the Gloucestershire Naturalists’ Society. In February, we erected signs on Upton Ham in Worcestershire, with the support of the local farmers and the Upton Town Council. Articles calling on visitors to help protect the site have been published in the local newspaper and on the town Facebook page.

Now, in early March, signs have been erected on the Severn Ham at Tewkesbury, in Gloucestershire, in cooperation with the Tewkesbury Town Council. Both sites are riverside meadows, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, subject to flooding in winter, widely used and enjoyed by local residents and visitors from outside the towns. It is planned to put up similar signs on other sensitive sites in the Severn and Avon Vales.

Mike Smart

Letter from the Chair, February 2019

Dear Members

In my previous Letter from the Chair, I mentioned that there would be a change in the make-up of the Society’s Executive Committee after the forthcoming Annual General Meeting; there are candidates for the vacant posts on the Committee but, as noted in my previous Letter, other members are free to stand. As yet, I have not received any proposals, but there is still time before the meeting (on 22 March, at the Gala Club, Gloucester) to put your name forward. I can now announce that the principal speaker at the AGM will be a very long-standing member (indeed an Honorary Member of the Society, and author of the Society’s recent publication “The Beetles of Gloucestershire”), Dr Keith Alexander, on the subject of “Gloucestershire’s Best Beetles”. Do come along to hear him!

This will be my last Letter from the Chair, as I am standing down as Chairman on 22 March. I have been Chairman since 2003, but I originally joined the Society as a schoolboy in 1952: there was a “Hobbies Exhibition” at the Town Hall in Cheltenham, where I signed up as a member of what was then the “Cheltenham and District Naturalists’ Society”; (it later evolved, after a period as the “North Gloucestershire Naturalists’ Society”, into its present form). The Society was blessed by the involvement of a whole range of legendary volunteer naturalists (I really don’t like to call them ‘amateurs’; they were genuine experts in their own fields); people like the botanists Miss De Vesian and Miss Park, or RJM Skarratt (both botanist and ornithologist), or keen bird watchers like Terry James and Frank Whittingham, both of whom have died only recently. The Society at that time was (apart from Peter Scott’s then ’Severn Wildfowl Trust’ – which I also joined) the only naturalists-cum-conservation body in the county. It organized indoor meetings in the old Cheltenham Grammar School building on the High Street (right next to the Cheltenham Brewery, when it was a real brewery rather than a shopping mall); best of all it organized a range of field meetings every weekend, with midweek evening meetings in summer; and most of the field meetings were based on travel by public transport, going all over the county from Royal Well bus station. For me, and several other junior members at the time, being a member was a life-changing experience; my whole life has been influenced by it, since I became forever a keen bird-watcher, and in the end a professional conservationist.

So, when I was elected as Chairman in 2003, I felt a debt of gratitude, and a wish to support the Society’s traditional role as a body that encouraged volunteers to enjoy and study natural history. Since the 1950s of course a variety of other conservation bodies, both professional and voluntary, have developed in the county: Natural England, Environment Agency, Wildlife Trust, Butterfly Conservation, local bird clubs in Dursley and Cheltenham, to mention just a few. So the GNS role was not hands-on conservation management; and with the creation of the Gloucestershire Centre for Environmental Records, it was not even to collect and store records. I have always felt that the Society’s role was recording and publishing: helping GCER to verify their records through the network of County Recorders (their range and variety is illustrated in the ‘Wildlife Recording Information Sheet’ section of the present issue); encouraging volunteers to submit their records from a variety of taxa; and to encourage publications on all aspects of the county’s natural history. In the old days, there was a monthly roneo-typed “Journal” (delivered largely by hand!). I believe that GNS members greatly value the now quarterly GNS News, which reports on the latest natural history news and represents a regular link between members in an attractive illustrated format. And of course we should not forget the annual volume of ‘The Gloucestershire Naturalist”: number 32 has just appeared, edited by the indefatigable David Scott-Langley.

During my time as Chairman, the Society has thankfully, owing to generous legacies from many of those former CDNS members, been free of financial worries, allowing it to provide financial support for all these publications and also to provide grants for worthwhile conservation projects carried out by members. The Executive Committee welcomes applications from members who might need equipment or support to carry out projects: this has been an increasing activity in the last few years and is likely to develop. The highest priority for such grants is given to volunteer naturalists; the Society has no professional staff, and its Committee Members give freely and generously of their time, so in most cases the Committee are very reluctant to use the Society’s funds to pay for researchers’ time.

One of the Society’s aims has always been to arouse an interest in natural history, especially among young people. Over the last decade the Committee has spent a long time discussing ways and means of achieving this. I have to confess that we have not made as much progress in this field as I would have liked; perhaps, given the extent of regulations (notably Health and Safety) that surround these issues nowadays, this is something that can best be done by professionals. But we have taken some initiatives, notably with students at the University of Gloucestershire, so let us hope that this brings fruit.

On re-reading this note, I see that I have very frequently used the term ‘natural history’, and I think that this reflects the atmosphere that has always prevailed in the Society: serious, but not too scientific; enjoyable, but requiring thought and study. Long may we continue along this road. I wish my successor every success, and shall be continuing as an ordinary member of the Executive Committee, so shall remain involved in the Society’s activities, and in particular with fieldwork, on subjects such as …. Curlews perhaps?

With very best wishes

Mike Smart
Hon Chairman

Signs at Upton Ham to help protect nesting birds

It is nearly time for the Curlews to return to their spring and summer breeding grounds, so as in previous years, signs are being erected asking dog-walkers to keep their animals under control. Today at Upton Ham, with the support of the town council, the signs were put up in the teeth of Storm Erik.  In the next few days, it is planned to erect signs at Tewkesbury on the Severn and near Eckington on the Avon. Thanks to John Dickinson (with the beard) for designing the signs and to Gloucestershire Naturalists’ Society for funding production.

John Moore Museum – Birds of Prey Day – Saturday 16 February

A Live Animal Event for February half-term week 2019

OrganiserJohn Moore Museum
DateSaturday 16th February 2019
Time10am to 1pm & 2pm to 5pm
VenueJohn Moore Museum, 41 Church Street, Tewkesbury, GL20 5SN
DetailsFor the start of Half Term week in Gloucestershire, the museum welcomes back J.R.C.S Falconry who will be bringing along a selection of birds of prey from their extensive collection.

Visit us to meet a Golden Eagle, a Hooded Vulture, an Eagle Owl, a Little Owl, an American Kestrel and a Barn Owl.  An opportunity to see birds of prey, from some of the largest to the smallest.

A falconer will be on hand to answer all your questions about these amazing birds as well as on the art of falconry.

Four sessions to choose from

10.00am to 11.15am
11.45am to 1pm
2pm to 3.15pm
3.45pm to 5pm

Adult: £6.00, Seniors & Students £4.50, Children £2.00
(Tickets include admission to the John Moore Museum & the Old Baptist Chapel)

Contact detailsContact: Simon Lawton (Curator)
E-Mail: [email protected]
Website: www.johnmooremuseum.org
Telephone: 01684 297174
Skip to content