Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Natural History Section Online Meeting Wednesday 05.05.2021

 On Wednesday 5th May at 7.30pm we will be holding a Zoom meeting to share our sightings, exhibits and anecdotes of what we have discovered recently - rather like our sightings slot at Winter meetings but with photographs, videos, etc. We would be delighted if you have exhibits to share, but it's not a necessity - if you just want to listen, that's OK. To join this meeting you need to be a current member of the Natural History Section. Members will receive an email with details of how to join the meeting. If you would like to join the Natural History Section, please email:

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Leicester Lit & Phil Natural History Section - Bringing Dormice Home

Ian White, Dormouse and Training Officer, People’s Trust for Endangered Species

Three dormice reintroductions took place in 2013 in woods in one area of Nottinghamshire. The project is examined to see the effect and implications of improving hedgerow connections. The dormouse reintroduction programme started in 1993 when 49 dormice were released in a woodland in Cambridgeshire. A reintroduction was done every year, releasing dormice in different woods in different counties in the hope that these animals would then start to disperse into the wider landscape. The programme changed in 2013 when three reintroductions were done in three woods in close proximity in Nottinghamshire. Here the aim was to work with local landowners to improve the hedged connections between the woods to enable the dormouse populations to meet up in the future to create a larger metapopulation. We hear how well that project has been working and look at implications for further reintroductions. 

You can book for our future events here:



Sunday, 31 January 2021

Leif Bersweden - The Orchid Hunter

In his gap year, Leif Bersweden spent a summer hunting down all 52 species of wild orchid native to Britain and Ireland. He discusses his book, The Orchid Hunter, which tells the personal tale of this summer long quest. As he travels all over the country, from the shores of the Channel Islands to the grassy pastures of the Brecon Beacons, from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne to the wind-swept coasts of the Outer Hebrides, Leif teaches us about some of our most extraordinary native plants, the history of orchid hunting in Britain as well as sharing stories of his childhood growing up to love plants. 

Leif Bersweden is an author and botanist with a lifelong interest in nature, focusing on wild plants from the age of seven. He grew up in rural Wiltshire where he taught himself how to identify the local flora and now regularly leads plant identification training courses for The Species Recovery Trust. Leif graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in Biology and recently finished his PhD at Kew Gardens, where his research focused on orchid genetics. In a world where an interest in botany is becoming increasingly rare, he wants to help put plants back on the map and is endeavouring to do this through his teaching, research and publications.



Monday, 4 January 2021

The Challenging World of Plant Galls

Chris Leach, British Plant Gall Society

Plant galls are growths on plants that provide food and protection to the organisms that induce their development. Galls are also potentially desirable residencies for a large number of non-gall causing organisms and gall causers are under constant attack from potential lodgers and parasites. This presentation discusses a variety of gall causing groups including wasps, sawflies, aphids and mites and shows the extent to which these groups have developed strategies to ward off potential attacks and inclement conditions. The strategies are as diverse as producing physical barriers, recruiting mercenaries, training a protecting work force, making glue and producing jumping galls!

If you enjoyed this talk, please give us a small donation to fund future public talks:

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Are there any saprophytes in the British flora?

Dr Richard Gornall, Director of the University of Leicester Botanic Garden, discusses the evolution of carbon acquisition in plants. Two native plant species, both newly discovered in Leicestershire, are used to illustrate the origin and evolution of carbon-acquisition through non-photosynthetic means. 


Tuesday, 17 November 2020

So here it comes, the hard sell - can you afford *not* to join the Natural History Section of the Leicester Lit & Phil Society?


What do you get for your money? Free entry to all Natural History Section events, exclusive access to our summer programme of field meetings and the fabulous twice-yearly members newsletter - like Newsletter 111, Autumn 2020, which just dropped into members inboxes - the fully-illustrated, "It's like lockdown never happened" edition. 

Join here:


  • Weather Summary, Tim Hartshorne: Storms Ellen and Francis, and a mini-heatwave.
  • How To Make a Wildlife Pond: Part 2, Sue Hitchings: The wildlife moves in.
  • False Ladybirds At Shady Lane Arboretum, Saharima Roenisch: Red imposters with black spots.
  • Brown Fields, Alan Cann: In our agriculturally impoverished County, it is the post-industrial brownfield sites which hold out hope to wildlife.
  • A Bonus of Rewilding, Rowan Roenisch: After forty years the grasshoppers return to the garden.
  • Common Plant Names in Different Cultures, Richard Graves: Finger hats, a thousand leaves and chicken blindness. 
  • The activities of a garden spider Araneus diadematus, Shelagh Tinning: Observations through the kitchen window. 
  • Unexpected Urban Moth Caterpillars, Saharima Roenisch: July was a busy time for Lepidoptera in Leicester. 
  • Weasels in Oadby, Saharima Roenisch: Stoatally fascinating. 
  • A Double-First for VC55, John Tinning: More marvellous moths move in. 
  • Cotesia glomerata, Parasitic Braconidae Wasp, Hazel Graves: Nature’s way of ensuring fewer caterpillars on his cabbages in 2021.
  • Oaks in VC55, Russell Parry, Illustrations, Lindsay-Anne Heald: Which ones grow here? The chance to be a detective.
  • Leicester Literary & Philosophical Society Natural History Section enters the Virtual World, Hazel Graves: Zoom Meetings in 2020.
  • Rutland’s Impenetrable Swamp, Steve Woodward: Private parts of part of Rutland Water.


Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Garden Moth Trapping – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

Moth Trap

 Wednesday 04/11/2020 - 19:00 - online via Zoom

Garden moth trapping is in the ascendancy at the moment. What is the appeal and how does it contribute to our knowledge of moths in the county? Adrian Russell, VC55 County Moth Recorder and 37 year veteran of garden moth trapping, explains. Join us online from 7pm for 7.30 - refreshments served from 7pm! 

Natural History Section members will be sent details via email. Non-members are also welcome to join these events - if you would like to join us online via Zoom at 7.00pm on Wednesday 04.11.2020, please register here:

We will send an email to the address you submit with instructions on how to join on the day of the meeting.