Bath Natural History Society
BATH NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY – Registered Charity No. 1107468
Welcome to our Bath Nats website from the President, Rob Randall
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!
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.
If this sounds interesting to you, come and join us!
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
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 £2 for members and £4 for visitors.
Admission to the social evening and to the AGM is free.
‘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.
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.
Leaders: Helena Crouch & Penny Williamson On a fine day, 24 Bath Naturalists and members of the local community assembled by the classroom at Friary, warmly welcomed with coffee and cake by our hosts Penny and Richard. We were privileged to be given an...
Leader: Lucy Starling I was joined by 13 members on a bright and breezy morning for 5 hours of birding in this wonderful wetland habitat. The 2 hours or so before lunch were spent on the Shapwick NNR and we saw and heard a good variety of species, the first notable...
Speaker: Fred Rumsey Fred Rumsey began his excellent talk by ‘wowing us’ with a few photos of extraordinary and diverse kinds of parasitic plant before defining their essential features. First, they derive their nutrition from a host, with varying amounts of...
Leaders: Terry Doman and Glen Maddison. On a cold dry day, 18 members joined the leaders for a birding walk around Avebury. We had just started walking towards the Standing Stones from the car park, when someone spotted a weasel hunting in the grass near a hedgeWe...
Leader: Lucy Starling Despite pretty much ideal birding weather: sunny, not cold, light/moderate breeze, my party of 11 members, sadly, had little to see or hear. I was amazed that I found not a single Greenfinch nor party of Goldfinch during our walk from Beckford...
Leaders: David Goode and Helena Crouch It was a fine morning and even better when the sun came out as 18 members gathered on the Riverside Path opposite St John’s Church. After welcoming everyone David explained that the Hawk and Owl Trust had erected a nest box on...
Leader Glen MaddisonOn a dull, grey, though fairly mild winter morning, I was pleasantly surprised to be joined by ten others at the Swan pub in Kingsdown. Once we’d sorted our route, I led the group up towards the golf-course, where we were to check out the fields...
Leader: Rob Randall Six members joined the leader to have a close look at the lichens to be found growing in churchyards and cemeteries. Local buildings and walls are usually built from the range of limestones found in the area but gravestones, especially headstones...
Speaker: Stephen Parker Stephen took us on remarkable journey through the changing approaches to nature conservation which occurred in Britain during the 20th century, before embarking on the new Pandora’s Box of wilding. He emphasised that most of the effort of...
Leader: Lucy Starling Ten members joined me on a gloriously sunny but chilly morning for a slow birding stroll along the track from the B3095, which incorporates Whitesheet Hill (NT), and continues to the B3092 and Stourhead estate. From the top of Whitesheet Hill,...
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BATH NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY
Registered Charity No. 1107468