Updated: 28.10.2023

Welcome to the Natural History Section of the Leicester Lit & Phil Society

The aim of the Natural History Section is to advance awareness of the natural history of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. We organise a series of talks (all welcome) during autumn, winter and spring, and a series of field meetings for members only. The Leicester Literary & Philosophical Society is a Registered Charity (number 1047498).

If you would like to join Natural History Section, please email: leicesternaturalhistory@gmail.com

Subscription rates:
Single Membership £12, Joint Membership £18
Discounted rate for members of parent body – Single £10; Joint £14
Membership benefits:
Free entry to all Natural History Section events, twice-yearly members newsletter, exclusive access to our programme of field meetings.

Natural History Section Committee
H. Graves (Chair), A. Bevington (Secretary), R. Parry (Treasurer), P. Khodabakhsh (Newsletter Editor), R. Graves (Winter Programme Secretary), S. Bennett (Internet Editor), N. Bashforth, J. Harris, R. Hayes.

To contact the Secretary, write to: Alan Bevington, 7 Hazeldene Road, Hamilton, Leicester LE5 1UA

Natural History Section Constitution (12-11-2020)


Autumn Walks 2023

  • September – Burbage Common – Raita Hayes (postponed due to weather)
  • October – Bradgate Park – Steve Woodward
  • November – Billesdon Woodland Pool – Alan Cann (note change of venue)
  • December – Beacon Hill – Ivan Pedley

As always, walks are for members only and Section members will be sent details prior to each. For membership enquiries please email: leicesternaturalhistory@gmail.com  Members should familiarise themselves with the Health and Safety Guidance for Outdoor Meetings.

2023/2024 Winter Indoor Meetings Programme

Free to Members, small charge to visitors

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

4th October 2023
Dr 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.lan 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.
A tribute to Richard Iliffe”

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
Joint Lecture with the Main Lit & Phil Society
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.

Wednesday 3rd April 2024
AGM and Members Evening

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

Recent videos on our YouTube channel:

November 2021: Don’t Stop the Rot – Steven Falk

October 2021: An Update on Dragonflies in Leicestershire & Rutland – Ian Merrill


Newsletter 111

Our Newletter is sent to all members free of charge twice a year.
Past Newsletters are made available here so that you non-members can see what you are missing! 

Edition 116 – NHS Newsletter Spring 2023 – Members only
Edition 115 – NHS Newsletter Autumn 2022 – Members only

Edition 114 – NHS Newsletter Spring 2022
Edition 113 – NHS Newsletter Autumn 2021
Edition 112 – NHS Newsletter Spring 2021
Edition 111 – NHS Newsletter Autumn 2020
Edition 110 – NHS Newsletter Spring 2020
Edition 109 – NHS Newsletter Autumn 2019
Edition 108 – NHS Newsletter Spring 2019
Edition 107 – NHS Newsletter Autumn 2018
Edition 106 – NHS Newsletter Spring 2018
Edition 105 – NHS Newsletter Autumn 2017
Edition 104 – NHS Newsletter Spring 2017
Edition 103 – NHS Newsletter Autumn 2016
Edition 102 – NHS Newsletter Spring 2016
Edition 101 – NHS Newsletter Autumn 2015
Edition 100 – NHS Newsletter Spring 2015
Edition 99 – NHS Newsletter Autumn 2014

The Sowter Memorial Lecture

Each year one autumn lecture of the Natural History Section of the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society is dedicated to Frederick Sowter, F.L.S. (1899-1972), one of our early members, a very important botanist in the fields of bryology, lichenology and flowering plants, especially in VC55. He was also extremely active and influential in the developing field of conservation. It has been traditional to introduce each of these with a full tribute to Frederick Sowter, but as an alternative it has now been decided that it would be more fitting to place on the Natural History Section website the following tribute written by Ian Evans following Sowter’s death in 1972, and published in the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society Transactions. The introduction to “Our Diminishing Flora” published in 1960 is also included. In this way attendees can learn more detail about this important past member than would be suitable as an introduction to a lecture evening.
Here is: A Tribute to F.A. Sowter