Monthly talk

Monthly Meeting: 18 September 2019 - 9.30am
Doors Open 9.30am for refreshments
Venue: Beccles Public Hall
Talk: Ann Jillings and Varley the dog Dogs For The Deaf
Admission: Members free, guests £2.50

It has become a tradition at Beccles U3A for the monthly meeting to be followed by a Guest Speaker. As you will see from the list below, the subjects are very varied.


18 August 2019 - David White Birdwatch

At our August meeting David White presented a very informative talk on garden birds and the role of The British Trust for Ornithology.

The BTO is a charity that focusses on understanding birds and in particular how and why bird populations are changing. Their headquarters are in Thetford and from the BTO Garden BirdWatch programme they have a total of 74.9m observations upon which to draw.

Many birdwatchers and householders already keep simple records of the birds that they see using their gardens throughout the year. The collection of such information is incredibly useful and, if carried out in a systematic manner, these weekly observations of birds (and other garden wildlife) can prove very valuable for researchers. BTO Garden BirdWatch enables this information to be collected in a standardised way alongside similar information from many thousands of other garden birdwatchers. In effect, you are a 'citizen scientist' working in partnership with BTO researchers to answer important questions about how, why, and when birds use gardens and the resources they contain. Garden BirdWatch is funded by a subscription fee of £17 a year, which covers the cost of the scheme and the member's magazine ‘Bird Table’.

David detailed the top 10 birds in the UK measured from January to March which were:

• Blackbird
• Robin
• Blue Tit
• Woodpigeon
• Dunnock (Hedge Sparrow)
• Great Tit
• Chaffinch
• Goldfinch
• House Sparrow
• Collared Dove

The Goldfinch population has increased yearly due to the different types of food being put out for them in gardens, particularly niger seed. However they are now switching their preference to sunflower hearts which are more expensive. They have moved from feeding in farmlands to gardens.

The number of Woodpigeon is increasing. They feed on most types of seed and interestingly are sometimes unable to take flight as they have eaten too much.

The House Sparrow is in long-term decline although it is not clear why. They tend to nest in gangs and are very hierarchical dominated by a patriach and matriarch.

David went on to show us various diseases which occur in birds and gave us advice on feeding.. In addition he showed us a photograph of a Leucistic Dunnock which was all white.

Their surveys are designed by expert scientists to answer some of the most pressing questions affecting birds and their habitats. Because of their independence they are able to share to inform decision makers enabling them to look for impacts and test possible solutions.

For more information on The British Trust for Ornithology visit their website (,

Thank you Vickie for writing this report

Up and coming talks

Wed 16 October 2019: Chris Greenhill My Day Monitoring Norwich Prison

Wed 20 November 2019: Lionel Simms Decoding Stonehenge TBC

Wed 19 February 2020: Mu Gurbutt Kew Gardens

Review Past Monthly Talks