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, 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!

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 2023   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 £2 for members and £4 for 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.

Warren Hill near Tidworth, Wiltshire, 4 August 2023 

Warren Hill near Tidworth, Wiltshire, 4 August 2023 

above: Silver-spotted Skipper at Warren Hill © Phillip Delve Leader Phillip Delve Following  a very stormy week, 12 of us met just south of Perham Down near Tidworth, hoping to see butterflies. Conditions were not ideal, with persistent cloud cover and a cool...

East Woodlands, 19 July 2023

East Woodlands, 19 July 2023

above: Juvenile Great spotted woodpecker © Andrew Harrison Leaders Jenny Vickers and Alvan White A group of twelve met on a lovely morning by the delightful Woodlands St Katharine Church, set in some wonderful countryside between Frome and Longleat. It was built in...

Bradford on Avon, 4 July 2023

Leader Felicity Gilmour  Bath Nats members joined the leader outside Bradford on Avon’s station defying the dire weather forecast. Before we could depart however, we were soundly reprimanded for loitering by both the coffee van lady and the taxi cab lady – what...

Carr’s Woodland, 4 June 2023

Leader: Alvan White Ten members gathered on a warm day with wall to wall sunshine. My appreciation is especially given for the expertise provided by Rob Randall (RR), Mike Williams (MW), and Alan Feest, although, as usual, all members contributed to the finds and...

Bathwick Fields and Smallcombe, 20 May 23

Smallcombe Meadow © Marion Rayner Leader: Marion Rayner On a warm and sunny spring afternoon seven of us gathered on Bathwick Hill to enter the gloriously colourful National Trust meadows that are part of the Bath Skyline Walk. We made our way across a meadow awash...

American Museum Public Moth Event, 7 May 2023

American Museum Public Moth Event, 7 May 2023

above: Pine Beauty at American Museum © Phillip Delve Leader Phillip Delve On Saturday afternoon, we set two light traps on the east side of the American Museum, Claverton, and left  them running overnight. The Robinson traps were fitted with mercury vapour lamps...

Lansdown and Battlefields, 5 April 2023

Leader: Glen Maddison 10 of us, including the leader, met at the Lansdown P&R on a miserable wet and grey early spring morning hoping for some migrant birds and maybe a few early emerging butterflies. The latter was most definitely out, especially as the temps...

St James’ Cemetery, Lower Bristol Road, Bath, 22 April 2023

Leader Rob Randall The cemetery was first visited by the leader during one of the lock-down periods a couple of years ago and he had been a regular visitor ever since. The part of the cemetery nearest to the road has few graves visible because it suffered badly during...

Lower Moor Farm, near Oaksey, 26 April 2023

Leaders: Felicity Gilmour, Geoff Hiscocks, Rob Randall Nine members assembled at the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust car park at Lower Moor Farm on a dull but dry day to explore the many fascinating features of Clattinger Farm, with its traditionally managed meadows, and the...

Lichens and bryophytes on Entry Hill trees, 25 February 2023

 Leaders: Rob Randall and Marion Rayner The low temperatures and breezy exposed site at the top of Entry Hill did not bode well for an almost stationary excursion to look at epiphytes on a row of roadside trees. These were mostly Sycamores, with one each of Pear,...

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Registered Charity No. 1107468


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