The many natural history achievements of outstanding Hertfordshire naturalist, Trevor James, were celebrated at a conference on Saturday 9 September.

Despite exceptionally hot weather, an audience of more than 50 HNHS/Bird Club members and friends enjoyed a day of talks at Redbourn Parish Centre. These related to Trevor's national contribution to biological recording and his particular areas of wildlife interest.

For those who were unable to attend, links to video recordings of the tributes paid and the main presentations can be found below.

The conference opened with reminiscences, starting with one of his oldest friends, John Lines who described how Trevor first became interested in wildlife and engaged his friends in bird-watching at Northaw Great Wood, near his home at Cuffley. June Crew, a friend and participant in his legendary field trips read an entertaining poem in Trevor's honour. Further tributes were read (by David Utting) from Trevor's friend, author and former HNHS President Michael Clark and another stalwart of the Society, the Rev'd Tom Gladwin

June Crew reads her celebratory poem ©Stuart Warrington

Graham White described his involvement, with Trevor and Tom Gladwin, in the establishment of Amwell Nature Reserve on a gravel pit site in the Lea Valley. Tim Hill, Conservation Manager at the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust read an appreciation from Judy Adams, the Trust's former Chief Executive, and expressed his personal gratitude for many years of wise and expert advice provided by Trevor.

Paul Harding, Head of the Biological Records Centre from 1982 to 2003, presented on Trevor's national contribution to developing biological recording. After pioneering work to establish the Hertfordshire Environmental Records Centre, Trevor applied his knowledge of local wildlife monitoring and 'citizen scientists' to the task of developing national databases, including online records submission, verification and collation.

Paul Harding ©David Utting

Trevor's role for more than 40 years as county recorder for vascular plants and author of Flora of Hertfordshire (2009) was celebrated by current co-recorder Ian Denholm. His talk, The flora of Hertfordshire in time and space highlighted Trevor's expertise in identifying and mapping plants. This provided increasingly detailed knowledge about trends and the ecological factors that appear to be influencing them.

Ian Denholm ©David Utting

Stuart Warrington, county recorder for water beetles and bugs, spoke about Trevor's other longstanding role, as  recorder for beetles.  In Trevor James and the Beetles of Hertfordshire, he paid tribute to the expertise and lifetime experience that in 2018 resulted in publication of his county atlas covering more than 2,400 species. His conclusion: "Trevor’s legacy for beetle recording and communication in the county is unsurpassable."

Stuart Warrington ©David Utting

Before he moved on to study plants and beetles in far greater detail, Trevor started his natural history career with birding and edited the Herts Bird Report in its early days. Ken Smith, a former HNHS Chair and county bird recorder, as well as  co-author of three Hertfordshire bird atlases between 1982 and 2015, gave the final talk. This highlighted Hertfordshire's changing birds: 40 years ago and today. Ken's message was that although once-familiar species, including one of the last colonies of Tree Sparrows in southern England, have been lost, others including Buzzard and Red Kite have arrived as breeding birds in that time and become widespread.

Ken Smith ©David Utting

In a concluding session (recording not available) an HNHS panel discussed with the audience n how best to take forward Trevor's legacy. This includes putting £5,000 that he generously bequeathed to the Society to good use. The conversation, in which strategic thinking was linked to the Society's forthcoming 150th anniversary in 2025, included ideas for engaging children and young people in natural history and how to find and train new county wildlife recorders. The contribution of iRecord, BirdTrack and other online recording schemes in filling local recording  'gaps' was also discussed, rounding-off a memorable day.