Forthcoming indoor meetings

Every 2nd Thursday in the month. Held at the Holmer Parish Centre (SO505:423) Holmer, Hereford. This is situated on the A49 Leominster Road, just north of ‘The Starting Gate Inn’ roundabout on left by Holmer Parish Church. There is a car park and other facilities. All meetings start at 7.30pm. A donation of £2 per member, £3 per non-member, is suggested to cover costs. This includes refreshments.



13th September    Baz Hughes             Spoonbill Sandpipers

Baz heads up WWT’s Conservation Science Department and was previously Head of the WWT Threatened Species Department, including responsibility for WWT’s captive breeding programmes. 

Baz has nearly 30 years professional experience in waterbird conservation after joining WWT in 1987. He has taken part in expeditions to study White-headed Ducks in Turkey, White-winged Wood Ducks in Indonesia and Scaly-sided Mergansers in Far-east Russia.


He has designed and managed numerous large research contracts for WWT Consulting, including work on Ruddy Ducks, the feeding behaviour of fish-eating birds, lead poisoning in waterfowl, and the waterfowl module of an EU LIFE-funded demonstration project on the rehabilitation of the London Lakes. Baz has a sound knowledge of countryside policies, conventions and legislation relating to waterbirds and wetlands, and significant regional, national and international experience.

The spoon-billed sandpiper is perilously close to extinction. Its numbers recently plummeted to fewer than 200 pairs worldwide.

This unusual and attractive bird spends its life on the vast wetlands of South Asia making incredible migrations across Indochina to its breeding grounds on the Russian tundra. But all along its migratory route, it’s threatened by illegal hunting and destruction of intertidal mudflats.

But thanks to a combination of high quality science and research and WWT’s ground breaking conservation techniques the future of this tiny bird is now looking more secure.

11th October        Steve Roberts (Gwent OS)          Goshawks

Steve has spent his spare time seeking out and researching birds and in recent years has been a chief-nest finder for the BBC Springwatch team. Steve’s long-term monitoring of Hobby, Goshawk and Honey-buzzard has added considerably to the accumulated knowledge of what had been thought of as difficult birds to study. Two landmark papers in British Birds in 1999 and 2014 synthesise a lifetime’s work on Honey-buzzards: understanding of the species’ habits and behaviour during the breeding season being a critical step towards their effective conservation.

Steve was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 by Welsh Ornithological Society

As anyone who has seen a Goshawk close up will tell you, this is a bird that projects power.  The piercing stare, strong beak and powerful talons underline that this is a formidable predator.

The Goshawk was effectively lost as a breeding species towards the end of the 19th Century, the result of persecution and habitat loss. Sporadic breeding records throughout the first half of the 20th Century were then bolstered by birds that had either been deliberately ‘reintroduced’ or lost by falconers. The present distribution of the species, with populations centred in Wales, the New Forest, northern England and southern and eastern Scotland, reflect the pattern of release – this is a bird whose populations disperse only slowly. 

8th November       Mick Colquhoun        Swifts

Many members of HOC will be aware that the Common Swift population in the UK is falling. The bird nests almost exclusively in holes in buildings and a lack of their availability in modern or restored buildings is thought to be an important factor. The churches in Herefordshire provide a valuable source of nesting sites and the Diocese are sympathetic to Swifts, modifying restoration projects to leave access to historical nest sites and have allowed the installation of nest boxes on churches.

The Herefordshire Mammal Group had noticed Swifts using churches to nest during the course of a survey of bats that they undertook and asked HOC to collaborate on a more extensive survey. Many members of HOC contributed to this in 2017 and at this meeting the results will be presented together with the results of a another Swift survey carried out by Ledbury Naturalists.

Mick Colquhoun will be known to many members of HOC through his photography, running the HOC website and as county recorder. With Chris Robinson and Denise Foster he helped plan and coordinate the Swifts in Herefordshire churches survey.

13th December     Keith Offord             Magical Merlins

Keith has been a regular presenter at HOC meetings for many years.  As well as being a renowned photographer, he runs workshops and courses on birdwatching and photography.  He is also a tour leader taking groups of enthusiasts all over the globe.

Merlins are our smallest falcons and these exhilarating little raptors always produce a  thrill for birdwatchers as they cut low over open country on flickering wings. This talk explores the life of the Merlin, showing it in its wintering and breeding grounds. An intimate insight is provided as a result of many years of involvement with Merlins in the uplands of Wales.


10th January        Dominic Couzens      Bird behaviour

Dominic Couzens is a writer, with nearly 30 book titles to his name.  He has also been a regular birdwatching field trip leader since 1988 and organises/leads birding trips in the UK and overseas. 

Over the years he has written long-running columns for, among others, BBC WildlifeBBC CountryfileBird WatchingRSPB Nature’s Home magazine and the National Trust magazine. He has also written for Birdwatch magazine, BBC Gardener’s World, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

Dominic will be talking about Bird Behaviour which is his main area of expertise.

15th February 2019 FRIDAY (not Thursday) at Bartestree Village Hall due to large numbers of interested attendees)

Prof. Tim Birkhead The Dr Walker Memorial Lecture:The Wonderful Mr Willughby. The First True Ornithologist

Tim Birkhead is a Fellow of the Royal Society and professor in behaviour and evolution at the University of Sheffield. His internationally recognised research focuses on populations of birds and their reproduction and has redefined our understanding of their mating systems.

Tim is the author of many books on birds, including The Wisdom of Birds, Bird Sense and The Most Perfect Thing, winner of the Zoological Society of London’s Communicating Zoology Award for 2016, and the basis for the TV documentary Attenborough’s Eggs screened in 2018.  He has featured in many BBC Radio 4 programmes and has spoken at numerous literary festivals, Including Hay on Wye and Cheltenham.

His most recent book, published in 2018 is The Wonderful Mr Willughby. The First True Ornithologist. Francis Willughby lived and thrived in the midst of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century.  Along with his Cambridge tutor John Ray, Willughby was determined to overhaul the whole of natural history and impose order on its complexity. He finessed the differentiation of birds through identification of their distinguishing features and asked questions that were centuries ahead of their time. His discoveries and his approach to natural history continue to be relevant – and revelatory – today. 

This talk by one of the world’s leading ornithologists is a not to be missed opportunity.  For those who wish to have an insight into both the subject of the early ornithologists and the quality of the speaker see Tim’s talk at

Join us at Bartestree Village Hall on Friday 15th February 2019 – you will not be disappointed!


                          Meetings are held at our regular meeting venue

Holmer Parish Hall, Hereford HR4 9RG.

There is ample car parking and all modern facilities. For more details and a map go to

Travelling south to Hereford on the A49 turn right just past Holmer Church.

Travelling North on the A49 to Leominster leave Hereford at Roman Road (Starting Gate) roundabout and the hall is on the left approx. 100 yards beyond the roundabout.

All meetings start at 7.30.

Everyone Welcome

Herefordshire Ornithological Club is a registered charity England and Wales number 1068608