Bath Natural History Society

BATH NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY – Registered Charity No. 1107468

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Welcome to our  Bath Nats website from the President

Do come and join us in “Exploring Nature within and around Bath!”

Whether you are visiting this site as an onlooker, member or prospective member of our Society, we hope you will enjoy and be excited by the descriptions and illustrations of our diverse interests, activities and expertise. We are a relatively small Natural History Society, which relies on the enthusiasm, voluntary efforts and skills of its membership, so newcomers – of all ages and from all kinds of background are always very welcome.

We think that ‘natural history’ is important for everyone, not just a select few. The natural world is made up of many different kinds of animals and plants, and it takes all kinds of people to appreciate them, from different points of view and in different ways. So, if you find pleasure in exploring any aspect of nature, especially in the Bath area, perhaps you would like to join us as a really great way to share and learn more.

Since I moved to Bath in 1969 there have been many changes, but the city and its surroundings have always supported a great variety of wildlife. The hill pastures are not as rich in wild flowers and butterflies as they once were, but with the move to more sustainable agriculture this situation should improve. Global warming has resulted in some new arrivals in our area. Among my favourites are the Ivy Mining Bees that have recently colonized sandy banks near the Pavilion Restaurant in Victoria Park. The night time roosts of Pied Wagtails in the Southgate area help to brighten the dark days of winter. They prefer the younger trees where they are safer from the attentions of the local Sparrowhawks, so they tend to move their roost site as the trees get too big. Birds of prey were much persecuted in the past but the Buzzard recovered its numbers many years ago, our resident Peregrines on St. John’s Church are now well established, and Red Kites are now often seen in the surrounding countryside.

By joining in with us, you too might be surprised and inspired by the variety of life that can be found almost anywhere in and around Bath, with a little knowledge of where to look, how to look and what to look for. Over the past few years some of our members have regularly visited the tiny cemetery at Smallcombe to find out what lives there. The results have been astonishing. So far they’ve seen over 700 species including 55 kinds of moths, many other insects, over 44 common bird species, around 144 kinds of flowering plants including some quite rare species, and over 100 species of lichens. All this occurs within a short walk from the city centre. The canal too is rich in species. Around 15 dragonfly species can be seen along the towpath between Bath and Bradford on Avon. Kingfishers can frequently be seen and if you are lucky you might even see an otter on the canal or along the River Avon. Delightful mosses, liverworts, lichens and all manner of ‘creepy crawlies’ abound on and in our stone walls and in our local woodlands – not to mention fungi, a passion for some of our members. Fungal forays are remarkably popular. We are also discovering, by light trapping (and releasing), the wide range of moth species which inhabit Bath’s urban and sub-urban areas, including some of the strikingly beautiful hawk moths.

We are especially keen to work in partnership with other local educational groups and organizations who share our interest in and concern for the natural world, and to find ways of reaching out to members of the wider public, including young people and families. When you join us, you don’t just get a chance to attend our own varied programme of outdoor and indoor meetings, and receive our Magazine, Newsletter and other publications – you also get to know about what our partners and friends are doing and how to join in with them.

You are very welcome!

About Us

The main purposes of Bath Natural History Society are to promote an interest in all aspects of natural history and to encourage the study, conservation and recording of the fauna and flora of the Bath area. BNHS liaises with other natural history societies and conservation organisations.

• Field trips – usually two or more per month.
• Indoor meetings – monthly from September through to April.
• Survey work – site visits to record specific wildlife groups.
• Members’ slides and social evenings.
• Education – providing lecturers to speak to external organisations.
• Wildlife identification.
• Meetings to enable the public to participate in Nats’ activities.

Join in
If this sounds interesting to you, come and join us!   

To download   Constitution Council Members for 2024   SafeGuarding Policy   Membership form

Take a walk with BathNats

When it’s not possible to join a field trip, explore nature round Bath with a self-guided walk. Lucy Starling is your guide.

How To Join Bath Nats

To join us, come along to one of our indoor meetings, email us or download an application form

A programme of our field trips is available to all members.

The annual subscription is as follows:

• Single membership…….. £8.00

• Family membership….. £12.00

• Student membership….. £4.00

You can download an application form to join us here

Admission for indoor meetings is £3 for members and visitors.

Admission to the social evening and to the AGM is free.

Study Groups

‘Study Groups’ (SGs) are intended to augment the main Field Programme by enabling members of the Society to enhance their knowledge and confidence in studying particular aspects of natural history and to encourage recording.

Their meetings are arranged and notified separately to their members by their respective leaders, as and when appropriate. Members who wish to join an SG are asked to contact the leader(s) of that group.

Current SGs are as follows:

Moths (cllck to read more...)

For members with a special interest in moths and for those who would like to learn more. A programme of moth trapping is held at various venues, usually people’s gardens, circulated in advance and covering the period April to October. There are also many extra traps held at shorter notice, depending on weather and conditions. In season there is also an active email exchange of photos, comments, queries and information.

For those new to moth trapping, traps basically consist of a bright light to attract moths and a container inside which the moths settle on egg boxes. Traps are set up as darkness falls and many moth groups stay with the trap into the small hours to record the species which come to the light, either to enter the container or to fly off again. The Bath Nats approach is to leave the light and container overnight and open it the next morning, usually around 9.00 am.

Moths are then carefully removed for species identification and recording before being passed around for members present to see them. Once the moths have been examined and in some cases photographed, they are placed on nearby foliage so that they can fly off as and when they please.

2022 moth group activity report

Nature round Bath

Learn more about the natural history of Bath  in the first of a series of studies, including extracts from the Bath Natural History Society Magazine.

East Woodlands, Frome 10 July 2024

East Woodlands, Frome 10 July 2024

Above: Vestal Cuckoo Bumblebee  © Andrew Harrison Leaders Alvan White and Helena Crouch Nine members visited these impressive woodlands nine days short of a year since the society’s previous visit. Unfortunately this year we could not explore the St Katherine’s...

Shapwick Heath, 7 July 2024

Shapwick Heath, 7 July 2024

Common Darter © Andrew Harrison Leader Alvan White, aided by Alan and Marion Rayner. The weather pattern became intermittent heavy showers with some sunshine. The Sweet track (constructed around 3,800 BC) and Decoy hide were the main features of the walk through....

Bathwick to Bathampton via Batheaston riverside, 15 June 2024

Bathwick to Bathampton via Batheaston riverside, 15 June 2024

Above: Beautiful Demoiselle © Andrew Harrison Leader Lucy Starling The forecast of heavy rain and threat of thundery downpours may have deterred many members attending. But, the rain stopped within 15 minutes of the meeting start time of 10.30am and two Nats...

Avon Park Fields & John Presland Reserve, Winsley 5 May 2024

Avon Park Fields & John Presland Reserve, Winsley 5 May 2024

Above: Brindled green caterpillar © David Hall Leader Alvan White A small group attended this meet under grey skies. Photographs were distributed showing the target, the distinctive female Red tailed mason bee (Osmia bicolor). The female bees camouflage their snail...

Compton Dando and Woollard, 10 April 2024

Compton Dando and Woollard, 10 April 2024

Leader Helena Crouch A dozen BNHS members met in the pleasant churchyard of the Church of St Mary, Compton Dando. From there we crossed the River Chew on a pedestrian bridge then joined the Forest Community Walk, through some woodland with a carpet of wild garlic,...

Bathwick to Bathampton via Batheaston, 28 April 2024

Bathwick to Bathampton via Batheaston, 28 April 2024

Leader Lucy Starling Seven members joined me on an unseasonably cool and dull morning in search of resident and migrant birds but at least it did not rain! With no sunshine, we encountered no butterflies or damselflies. I followed the route as published in my Walks...

Highbridge and Burnham, 17 February 2024

Highbridge and Burnham, 17 February 2024

above: English Scurvy-grass (Cochlearia anglica) © Alvan White Leader Alvan White On a grey day with no sunshine, ten members set off along the River Brue. The temperature was above 10C, and had been for a few days. One garden along Clyst Road was spectacular with...

Langford Lakes, 24 January 2024

Langford Lakes, 24 January 2024

above: Ruddy Shelduck at Langford Lakes © Phillip Delve Leader Phillip Delve Langford Lakes Wiltshire Wildlife Trust Reserve lies on the River Wylye flood plain, some 12 miles north west of Salisbury. Relieved to arrive in fine weather, following several very stormy...

New Year Plant Hunt in Bath, 2 January 2024

New Year Plant Hunt in Bath, 2 January 2024

above: The flooded meeting place, engulfed by the River Avon © Helena Crouch Leader Helena CrouchDespite an atrocious forecast for strong winds and rain, twelve brave botanists met beside the swirling River Avon for a second New Year Plant Hunt, recording all species...

New Year Plant Hunt: Widcombe and Oldfield Park, 30 December 2023

Leader Rob Randall This was the first of two meetings to contribute records to the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) New Year Plant Hunt. The route was chosen so there was plenty of interest for ornithologists as well as the botanists. The river was in...

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Registered Charity No. 1107468


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