Natural History Section, Leicester Literary & Philosophical Society

About us

Natural History Section

The Natural History Section exists to further the study of natural history and the recording of local wildlife in Leicestershire and the surrounding counties. Members of the Section have a wide variety of interests and expertise in various areas of natural history, but you don't have to be an expert on natural history to join. We meet in person at New Walk Museum Leicester. Members receive a programme of forthcoming events, and regular copies of the Newsletter which reports on Society activities and contains other items about natural history. You are very welcome to come along to an indoor meeting as a guest. 

Contact Us


Indoor Meetings (all welcome) are usually held on Wednesday evenings once a month from October to March. Meetings consist of a talk on some aspect of natural history by a knowledgeable speaker, either an invited expert or a member. All talks are aimed at the amateur naturalist, since even those members of the Section who are experts in one area may know very little about another.

Meetings are held at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery, 53 New Walk, Leicester, LE1 7EA, 7.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.

Outdoor Meetings (members only) are usually held on Saturdays or Sundays. Distances covered on foot vary, but typically 2-3 miles, and shorter alternative routes are often available for those who prefer this. All outdoor meetings are by private car within reasonable driving distance of Leicester. Lifts can usually be arranged for those without their own transport.

Winter/Spring 2023/24 events

2023/2024 Winter/Spring Indoor Meetings Programme
Free to Members, £2 charge to visitors

4th October 2023
Helen O’Brien
"Mammal Distribution in VC55 – what to look out for – and how to get involved"

Dr Helen O’Brien is County Mammal Recorder for the VC55 area covering Leicestershire, Rutland, and parts of Derbyshire as well as chair of the local Mammal Group.  She has helped to co-ordinate records across the two counties for over 10 years and will provide an update on the distribution of mammals in the two counties – including some surprises!  Helen will discuss how data gathered by the Group and other sources has helped contribute to national and local conservation projects in the past, present, and future – and how people can get involved.

1st November 2023
Tim Sexton
"A Year at Rutland Water, Surveying and Monitoring"

Rutland Water is perhaps best known for its bird life. With over 20,000 waterfowl visiting the site in the winter it is an internationally important wetland. Coupled with the success of the Osprey and Water Vole reintroduction projects, the reserve has gone from strength to strength in the last 45 years.
Tim Sexton (Senior Species and Recording Officer) will talk about a year at Rutland Water, focusing on his survey work spanning across invertebrates, wildflowers and water quality and show you that there is more to Rutland than just birds.

6th December 2023
Gianpiero Ferrari
"Spring amongst the Clouds"

A seventeen day botanical journey from Dali in Yunnan through Shangri La, part of Tibet, finishing in Chengdu in Sichuan. Many of our garden plants originated from this special area, and to see them growing abundantly and to photograph them in their native habitat is something special. Starting from colourful valleys and high mountains covered with many different Rhododendrons in full flower, followed by Lady’s Slipper orchids, Primulas (over 700 species in China), Giant Lily, numerous Iris, Menocopsis, Incavillea just to name a few. Some of these flowers are special, and reaching them required a climb to almost 15,000 ft. Other subjects included are a few butterflies, birds, Buddhist temples, landscape and culture. 

Gianpiero is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and as been a member of the ARPF and FRPS assessment panel for four years.  He is a keen naturalist and a member of several societies.

3rd January 2024
Alan Cann
"Bugs – the little things that run the world"

Alan Cann will talk about finding and photographing Bugs (Hemiptera), their ecological importance and our rapidly changing fauna. From vegans to vampires, integrated pest management to exotic imports, bugs cannot be under-estimated yet are widely ignored. Come along and find out what you’ve been missing.

Alan is a joint county co-ordinator for Hemiptera in VC55.

7th February 2024
Geoffrey Hall
"Better late than never. The Leicester Fungi Study Group Millennium Year Project."

To celebrate the Millennium Year, the Leicester Fungus Study Group embarked on a project to record the fungi along a transect in part of Martinshaw Wood. Their dedicated work was completed, but the records lay in a box at Leicestershire Museum Service’s Stores and was in danger of being forgotten. During the first lockdown in 2020, I wrote the project up and a picture of the fungal activity in the wood throughout the year became clear. I also discovered a story that was not just about the fungi in the woods, but also about the people involved in the project.

6th March 2024
Richard Jeffery
"Butterflies and Butterfly recording in Leicestershire and Rutland"

An introduction to the butterflies (and a few day-flying moths) of Leicestershire and Rutland, and a look at how they’ve fared over the last 50 years.

We will take a look at the familiar butterflies that we are likely to find in our gardens, and on our regular walks, and I will give an introduction to the more habitat specialist butterflies that can be found in the county. There are a few day-flying moths that regularly turn up on butterfly surveys and we will discuss these too. We have all heard of how Climate Change is affecting the flora and fauna on our planet, and whilst there are many species that are in a decline, there are some that are bucking this trend and taking advantage of the warming climate. We will investigate how our county butterflies have fared since the 1970’s, highlighting some of the losers and embracing a few winners too.

11th March 2024
Monday Joint with Main Lit & Phil
Rosemary Collier, Professor in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick
"Managing pest insects without pesticides"

Synthetic pesticides have been available to farmers and growers since the 1940s and their use has facilitated our food security and the high-quality food that we’re used to. However, it has been evident for some time that they, and the farming systems of which they are part, have been contributors to the loss of biodiversity in the UK and elsewhere. This lecture will consider several approaches that can be used to manage pest insects without using pesticides and speculate about what it might take for the UK to manage without pesticides in the future.

3rd April 2024
AGM & Members Evening

Members are invited to share their Natural History experiences with other Members of the Section.