Recent natural history news for Hertfordshire is published here. If you have a noteworthy story, ideally with a photograph, please contact David Utting to have it added to this webpage.

Poodunnit? How droppings identification aids practical conservation

Otters live in encouraging numbers along the Lee Valley in Hertfordshire. But it is only by surveying for their tracks and droppings (or "spraint") that anyone can be sure, since the animals themselves are rarely seen. Graham White, the RSPB's Head of Reserves Ecology, made this his first practical example of the conservation value gained from studying animal excreta when he gave the 2019 Gerald Salisbury Memorial Lecture on Wednesday 27 November at Welwyn Civic Centre.

He described how his involvement in establishing the HMWT reserve at Amwell in the 1990s started his specialist interest in identifying and monitoring animal droppings that has since been put to good use all over the country.

Have we got Poos for You!

Do not miss this year's Gerald Salisbury Memorial Lecture to be given by Graham White, RSPB Head of Reserves Ecology

Graham, last year's winner of the Society's 1875 Award for an outstanding contribution to Hertfordshire natural history, is an enthusiastic ‘coprologist’. He will be speaking about the role of scat, spraint and dung identification in wildlife conservation.

The lecture takes place at 8pm on Wednesday 27 November in the Civic Centre, Prospect Place, Welwyn, AL6 9EN.

Capacity audience for Autumn Meeting and AGM

A capacity audience attended the Autumn Meeting on Saturday 9 November to enjoy presentations on the spiders and dragonflies of Hertfordshire and take part in the Society's Annual General Meeting. The Society's prestigious 1875 Awards for the year were also presented.

Hertford-based enthusiast Christopher Benton urged the conference to show more love and "less of the Halloween" for spiders as his prelude to introducing a personal selection of species he has recorded across the county.

These range from the familiar Giant House Spider Tegenaria gigantea and the Garden Spider Araneus diadematus to more elusive species that he has become skilled at coaxing out of walls and crevices, using an electric toothbrush. The latter include the widespread Amaraubius similis and Amaraubius ferox, which also has a liking for drain covers.

HNHS Autumn Meeting and 2019 AGM

Spiders, dragonflies and bats will all feature in topical talks at the HNHS ​Autumn Meeting from 2pm to 5.30pm on Saturday 9 November, which also includes the Society's Annual General Meeting. Members and non-members are warmly invited to join us at the offices of Affinity Water, Tamblin Way, Hatfield, AL10 9EZ.

The winners of this year's 1875 Awards, for an outstanding Hertfordshire naturalist and an outstanding contribution to natural history in Hertfordshire, will also be announced

There is a £5 entry charge for the conference, but admission to the AGM only is free. 

HNHS rare botany books exhibited

Rare and historic botany books, bequeathed to the Hertfordshire Natural History Society more than a century ago, went on display for a few hours at University College London (UCL) on July 30.

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