Autumn and winter programme 2021

In the autumn and winter months in normal years, the Society offers talks on various subjects at indoor meetings in the Cruck Barn, Bradwell Abbey. This year (as last year), the Society has decided to continue to hold the meetings over Zoom.

However, given the generally low risk of meeting outdoors, we are also arranging to hold a monthly weekend walk at a local location, led by one of our members.  This will give an opportunity to meet other members in person as we have done during the summer.

Information about all events, updated COVID restrictions etc. will be available on this page, and through the links under Society Events in the sidebar. A Zoom link will be sent to members before each Tuesday evening meeting For guidance on Meeting by Zoom, follow the link:

All members of the Society are reminded that during Society outdoor activities they must comply with current Government and Public Health rules and guidance concerning Covid-19.

For any forthcoming Society activity, each member who is planning to participate should assess his/her own risk and that of their household having regard to his/her own health and circumstances. This requirement is in accordance with the Society’s Constitution that states ‘Members taking part in any meeting or activity do so at their own risk.’

Practical and Covid-19 risk assessments are carried out in advance of each planned walk. Please arrive 15 minutes before the walks are due to start, so we can run through the Society’s risk assessment as appropriate.

Note that there is also a page of self-guided walks, with directions and guidance on what you might see.

Autumn Programme

A Zoom link will be sent to members before each Tuesday evening meeting.  The Zoom meeting room will be open from 7.30pm for members to meet and chat over tea or coffee (your own!), ready for an 8.00pm start.


Tuesday 5th October
7.30 for 8.00, via Zoom
India RevisitedAlan Piggott will be looking back to a trip 6 members did in April 2010. They did a shared evening shortly afterwards but that left many unseen pictures in Alan’s library. Tonight he’ll be looking at a still small selection of those and talking about an unforeseen event that proved advantageous to the group.

Tuesday 12th October
7.30 for 8.00, via Zoom
Setting up a Natural History Society in Pembrokeshire –
Steve Brady
Pembrokeshire in west Wales is one of the Natural History hotspots of Britain, but when long-standing MKNHS member Steve Brady retired there, he found it no longer had a local Natural History Society. So Steve set about setting one up himself within the local U3A. Hear him tell the story of, and share what they found in, their first season in this naturalists’ paradise.

Tuesday 19th October
7.30 for 8.00, via Zoom
Members Evening – Short talks by members about natural history topics which will include Di Parsons on what to look for in the night sky at this time of year, and Mervyn Dobbin taking a brief look at key points related to COP15 /26 conferences. If you would like to contribute, please contact Linda Murphy (

Sunday 24th October
09.45 for 10.00 start
Linford Wood – Colin Docketty. A pleasant woodland walk mainly on surfaced paths looking for autumn tints, fungi and woodland birds. Meet at Linford Wood TV mast car-park: SP 845 402; MK14 6PB

Tuesday 26th October
7.30 for 8.00, via Zoom
Autumn Fungi – Justin Long  will highlight the fungi that can be seen at this time of the year in the Milton Keynes area and the habitats in which they may be found.


Tuesday 2nd November
7.30 for 8.00, via Zoom
Bird ID Using Song and CharacteristicsMartine Harvey and Matt Andrews
Identifying birds in the field can sometimes be difficult and frustrating. This talk will address ways to identify birds by sound and by sight. It will look at the art and science of identifying birds in an enjoyable and applicable way. Part of the talk will focus on listening to and recording birds and the other part will look at the visual aspects of identification.

Tuesday 9th November
7.30 for 8.00, via Zoom
Book Review Evening – Mike LeRoy
Members’ reviews of recent natural history books (2017-2021). Five to ten minutes each to tell us about a book you recommend. Offers with book title to Linda Murphy before 31st October:

Tuesday 16th November
7.30 for 8.00, via Zoom
Wild Shetland – Steve Race, Professional Wildlife Photographer and Director of Yorkshire Coast Nature
The Shetland Isles is one of Steve’s favourite places in the UK for wildlife. The rolling hills, lochs and rugged coastline offer an incredible list of species. This talk highlights some of the key species of birds and mammals that breed on and call Shetland their home. From Mountain Hares and Otters to Red-throated Divers and Arctic Skuas, the Shetland Isles are truly a magical place to visit and are very wild indeed.

Sunday 21st November
Meet at  9.45 for a 10am start.
Walton Lake And Ouzel Valley Park – Colin Docketty.  A walk around the parkland corridor on mainly surfaced paths, after visiting the bird hide and viewing the Black Poplars. Bring binoculars if you have them.
Meet at  9.45 for a 10am start. Walton Lake car-park off Newport Road, Woughton Park: SP 879 369; MK6 3AP

Tuesday 23rd November
7.30 for 8.00, via Zoom
Wildlife and Scenery in the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica – Audrey Brown
Dr Audrey Brown worked for many years as an Open University tutor, on a wide range of science courses. Involvement in writing a course called The Frozen Planet sparked a particular interest in this special part of the world and she was lucky enough to travel to Antarctica for three weeks in early 2020.  The wildlife, often seen within spectacular ice and snow scenery, alongside the remains of the whaling industry, combine to make Antarctica a breathtaking holiday destination. Audrey’s talk will also cover the efforts made to ensure that tourism has the least possible effect on the pristine Antarctic environment.

Tuesday 30th November
7.30 for 8.00, via Zoom
The Development of the Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum – Graham Pellow
Graham was a director in the Natural History Museum for 10 years, firstly as Estates Director and later as Project Director for the Darwin Centre, the largest development on the museum site since it was built in 1880.
Graham will give an insight into working with some of the 350 museum scientists to develop a building both able to safeguard the world class collections and uniquely allow members of the public to visit the collection and working spaces.  He will also shed light on some of the spaces and operations within the museum which the public are mostly unaware of and never see – and will share some personal stories of both good and bad events during his time there.


Tuesday 7th December
7.30 for 8.00, via Zoom
Annual Quiz – hosted by Ann and Mark Strutton
Make sure you have a pencil and paper handy along with your choice of refreshments and put your thinking caps on!

Sunday 12th December
09.45 for 10.00 start
Caldecotte Lake – Colin Docketty
A walk around the lake for water birds, resident kingfisher and wintering passerines, mainly on surface paths.  Bring binoculars if you have them.
Meet at  9.45 for a 10am start. Caldecotte Lake ‘windmill’ car-park off H10 Blethcham Way:
SP 888 354: MK7 8AP

Tuesday 14th December
7.30 for 8.00, via Zoom
The Floodplain Meadows Partnership – Irina Tatarenko
Dr Irina Tatarenko from the Open University will give us an update on aspects of the work of this long-term project:
Over recent decades, the multiple functions of floodplains have been widely recognised and a number of projects to restore them have been carried out around the world. More than 97% of these habitats have been lost from the floodplains of Europe due to intensive agriculture in 1930-1980s, and to a lesser extent in the following years.  Moist or wet, mesotrophic to eutrophic hay meadows are classed as Endangered in the European Red List of habitats. Floodplain Meadow Partnership, based at the Open University, carried out a nationwide survey of meadow restoration projects in 2016-2018. The talk will summarise the main findings of that survey with a special focus on floodplain meadows managed by Milton Keynes Park Trust. How can we measure the restoration success? What are the major factors responsible for the success or failure?   Those and other related questions will be included in the discussion.

Tuesday 21st December
7.30 for 8.00, via Zoom
Christmas Party – details to follow


Please note that clause 7 of the Society’s constitution reads: “the Society will exercise due care when arranging its meetings and activities for the benefit of members.  Members taking part in any meeting or activity do so at their own risk.”