AFTER a very brief annual meeting, members were given an update of local reserve news by Mike Coates, of the RSPB.
Mike is the reserves manager for the Hampshire heathland reserves of Farnham and Hazeley Heaths and spoke passionately about his work to preserve heathland and its special birds such as nightjar and woodlark. He also revealed plans for a site in southern Berkshire which will become the first RSPB reserve in the royal county.
A few days later the annual group weekend took place with a trip to northern France. Although only some 20 miles across the Channel, the bird life there reflects that of Britain 50 years ago.
Just a few miles from Calais the sound of cuckoos filled the air, while lapwings and skylarks displayed overhead and yellow wagtails bravely fed beneath the hooves of cattle. One was left to wonder why these species have declined from our shores so drastically. We also saw some birds which are specialities of France, such as the white stork, black-winged stilt, honey buzzard and spoonbill. The group returned home with terrific memories not only of birds but of fine cuisine in Boulogne and the somewhat unstable metal chain ferry at Romelaere nature reserve.
The next meeting will be at Pangbourne village hall on June 10 at 8pm and will feature an illustrated talk by Anne Scott entitled “Bulgaria”. On June 20 the group will visit Padworth Common to seek nightjar and woodcock. Visitors are always welcome. For more information, visit www.reading-rspb.org.uk