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.

BBC 'Winterwatch' features Herts butterfly expert

Fans of BBC TV's Winterwatch will have enjoyed this year's film on an intriguing study of butterfly hibernation that Malcolm Hull, Chair of Herts and Middlesex Butterfly Conservation, has been conducting at his home in St Albans.

After four years of monitoring scores of Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies that seek 'winter' shelter in a brick shed extension, Malcolm has discovered that the former in some years start hibernation as early as late June, with a major influx at the start of July. This is far earlier than 'the end of summer' suggested by field guides.

Herts Bird Club / BTO Conference 2020

Be sure to join us at the offices of Affinity Water, Tamblin Way, Hatfield, AL10 9EZ on Saturday 29 February (2pm to 5.30pm) for the ever-popular Herts Bird Club / British Trust for Ornithology conference.

Trevor James BEM

HNHS warmly congratulates Trevor James on being awarded the British Empire Medal "for services to nature conservation in Hertfordshire" in the 2020 New Year Honours.

Trevor has been the county recorder for both plants and beetles in Hertfordshire for 40 years. He is also the author of Flora of Hertfordshire (2009) and Beetles of Hertfordshire, which was published to critical acclaim in 2018.

Death of Pryce Buckle

With sadness, we have learned that Pryce Buckle – a former HNHS Treasurer and Secretary as well as county recorder for molluscs – died on 9 November after a prolonged illness.

Pryce was HNHS Treasurer from 1983 to 1988 and then Secretary until 1990. He became molluscs recorder in 1987 and continued in the role until 2010.

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.

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