Evening Indoor Meetings

For many years, the Club has held monthly indoor meetings during the winter months. They are typically illustrated talks featuring a prominent local or national speaker followed by a discussion.

For the last Winter season of talks we Joined up with North Norfolk Group of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and presented a series of joint evening meetings. We are delighted to say that this partnership is to continue for the winter season of 2023/24, and together we have arranged an interesting programme.

The meetings are open to all, you don’t need to be a member of either the NWT or Cley Bird Club, but membership details will be available if you wish to join.

Due to increasing costs there will be a £3 charge per person for this year’s meetings.  Any money left after paying costs will go to support Cley Bird Reserve, particularly for improvements to the path to Bishop’s Hide.

Unless otherwise stated, all meetings start at 7.30pm and take place in the main hall at Cley Village Hall (NR25 7RJ) which is on Fairstead in Cley. If you don’t know where it is click here for a map. There is a large well-lit free car park. Free refreshments are provided.

Meetings Calendar



The Work of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel with Dawn Balmer

Time:7.30pm to 9.30pm
Venue:Cley Village Hall, NR25 7RJ. Ample car parking on site, but a torch is useful for the walk to and from the hall
Cost:£3 entrance; refreshments will be served
In addition to being a keen Norfolk birder, Dawn Balmer is the chair of the Rare Birds Breeding Panel, which monitors the status of the rare and scarce breeding birds in the UK.  She will present an illustrated talk on how the work of the panel contributes to the conservation of these birds.


This is a joint event with the North East Norfolk Bird Club.

The Rare Breeding Birds Panel collate breeding data on all species with fewer than 2,000 breeding pairs (both native and non-native) in the UK in order to report annually on their numbers, trends and distribution, and maintain a secure archive to support conservation and research for these species.  These data are used to set conservation priorities and are also used in wider assessments of biodiversity such as governmental wild bird and priority species indicators, and ‘The State of the UK’s Birds’ and ‘State of Nature’ reports.

This event is being generously supported by Cley Spy

Whale Detective: Uncovering the Surprising History of Whales and Dolphins in Norfolk with Carl Chapman

Time:7.30pm to 9.30pm
Venue:Cley Village Hall, NR25 7RJ. Ample car parking on site, but a torch is useful for the walk to and from the hall
Cost:£3 entrance; refreshments will be served

Carl Chapman is a well-known Norfolk birder and tour leader, and also the recorder for cetaceans in Norfolk.  He has been researching the historical occurrences of whales, dolphins and porpoises in Norfolk and will present illustrated talk about some of the fascinating back stories he has uncovered.  Expect surprises and intriguing pictures.

The North Sea may not be the first place one thinks of for seeing whales and dolphins, but over the years a surprising number and variety have been seen off our shores.  Sightings appear to be increasing, but in order to set recent records in context, we need to know what has occurred in the past.  The historical detective work that Carl will describe thus has great relevance to understanding recent changes, as well as being a fascinating exploration in its own right.

Image of Humpback Whale Bay of Fundy off Grand Manan, New Brunswick, Canada.

The talk will be preceded by the AGM of the N Norfolk local NWT group.

This event is being generously supported by BirdScapes Gallery


Previous meetings this winter:

January 2024 – Changing my perspective – new ways of looking at nature

When he retired, David North was given an Olympus Tough camera which has enabled him to gain a whole new insight into the natural world.  Starting on the top of his garden wall, David introduced us to a dazzling array of miniature mosses and lichens.  After a brief interlude of hares in snow, we were dazzled by dewdrops before marvelling at the beauty of frosty mornings, emergent leaves, Felbrigg at dawn and oak trees throughout the seasons.  David’s superb photographs were enriched by his profound knowledge and we were privileged to benefit from his determination to “pay attention, be astounded and talk about it”.



December 2023 – Norfolk’s Wonderful 150

Our last talk of the year was named after the book produced by the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society to celebrate their 150th anniversary in 2019.  The book contains descriptions of 150 species which are associated particularly with Norfolk.

Our speaker was Tony Leech, the country recorder for fungi, a former Biology teacher at Gresham’s School, and recipient of the Sydney Long Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the promotion of conservation.

Tony’s talk covered about 25 species including fungi, plants, insects, molluscs, crustaceans, birds and bats.  An extremely wide-ranging, fascinating and entertaining talk was followed by wine and delicious nibbles.

November 2023 – Why is Kenya so special?

Our November talk was presented by Nik Borrow, co-author and illustrator of several guides to African birds and a hugely experienced tour leader.

Nik took us on a fascinating tour of Kenya, starting in the coastal forests before moving inland to the Taita Hills and then up the slopes of Mt. Kenya.  From here, we were taken west to the Aberdare Mountains and north to the remote Marasbit region.  Finally, we turned south to the Rift Valley and finished up on the vast plains of the Maasai Mara.

Along this journey we were treated to wonderful photos and detailed descriptions of many of the 1100 species, including many endemics, which inhabit this incredibly diverse country. This superb talk had something for everyone, covering not just birds but also a wide range of mammals and the spectacular wildebeest migration.

October 2023 – Birding Antarctica: the Last Frontier – with Andy Clarke

Andy Clark took us on a magical tour of Antarctica during which we were spellbound by wonderful images of birds and mammals.

Having worked for the British Antarctic Survey for 40 years, and spent two winters at the polar base, Andy has a wealth of experience which he shared with an audience of 70, drawn from Cley Bird Club and NWT’s North Norfolk group.

Andy set the scene by describing the geography of the continent and the history of its discovery.  He went on to describe the routes taken by tourist ships, recommended appropriate field guides and then embarked upon a really informative description and superb illustration of the amazing wildlife.

Focussing on birds, Andy showed us tremendous images of penguins, albatrosses, petrels, gulls, tern and shags, often highlighting the very subtle differences between similar species.

March 2023 – Birding by Bike – Nick Acheson 

In the midst of Covid lockdowns, Nick decided to get on his mother’s 40-year-old bicycle and follow the wild geese in North Norfolk.  A deeply personal journey, inspired by loneliness and determination to reduce his carbon footprint, Nick spent seven months pedalling 1200 miles, the equivalent of the pinkfoot’s migration from Iceland.  

Nick described in great detail the migration patterns and behaviour of geese, some of which are known individually by the experts who watch them regularly.  It was interesting to learn that skeins of thousands of pinkfeet is a relatively recent phenomenon in Norfolk.  In Nick’s youth, he had to go to Holkham to see them in decent numbers, whereas now the 70,000 birds disperse all over the county.  

On arrival in autumn they graze on freshwater marshes and head inland locally to feed on fields of stubble.  Later in the winter they search out harvested beet which, due to modern harvesting techniques and almost immediate drilling of the fields, forces them to journey far and wide.  Numbers in Norfolk are down on the peak of 110,000 birds, possibly due to the changes in beet harvesting, or because global warming enables them to spend the winter further north. 

Nick’s journey is recounted in his superb book “The Meaning of Geese” which many of us purchased during the evening.  How lucky we are to live alongside these fascinating birds and to have someone like Nick to inspire us with his enthusiasm, eloquence and encyclopaedic knowledge.  

March 2023 – The Reintroduction of White-tailed Eagles to England – Zoe Smith (Associate Ornithologist, Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation)

Zoe joined the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation in 2021.  She has over a decade’s experience working in raptor conservation in the UK and internationally.  In 2022 she was elected to the board of the Raptor Research Foundation, superseding Jemima Parry Jones as the Director outside of North America.  

Zoe spoke eloquently and passionately about White-tailed Eagles which, with a 2.5m wing-span, are the 4th largest eagles in the world.  Driven to extinction in the UK, mainly through persecution, the last pair bred on Culver Cliff on the Isle of Wight in 1780.  It is therefore, most appropriate, that this island was selected for a reintroduction project which commenced in 2019.  

The aim of the five year project was to release 60 juveniles, sourced from nests in Scotland.  Chicks are collected when they are at least 10 weeks old.  They are placed in pens with no human contact, fed twice a day and fitted with transmitters before release.  This methodology has a proven track record in Scotland and Ireland where experience has shown that the eagles do not pose a threat to domestic animals such as lambs.  Young eagles tend to feed on carrion while older birds  hunt for a variety of prey including mammals, birds and fish. There is even evidence that the presence of eagles can suppress Buzzard and corvid numbers, thereby protecting vulnerable species such as Lapwing.

In 2019, 6 birds were released, followed by 7 in 2020 and 12 in 2021.  Avian Flu prevented any releases last year.  To date, 16 of the 25 released birds remain in the wild.  The young birds have been roaming far and wide, often spending prolonged periods in Norfolk.  One bird has crossed to continental Europe on two occasions, getting as far as Sweden.  The eldest of the released birds are approaching the age of maturity and two pairs have established breeding territories, one on the Isle of Wight and one in Sussex.  Could this be the year that we see the first White-Tailed Eagle chicks being born in England for almost 250 years?

Due to the exceptional work of people like Zoe and her colleagues at the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, White-tailed Eagles are making a comeback in Britain.  However, they face an uncertain future, faced by threats from Avian Flu, continued persecution, poisons and collisions with wind turbines.  To keep in touch with their progress and track their journeys around Britain and Europe, look at the excellent website roydennis.org

February 2023 – Bustards – The Ecstacy & the Agony

As the title suggests Nigel Collar‘s talk fell into two discrete parts; firstly he  spoke about the positives  of Bustards , illustrated with photos of species from Europe, Eurasia and Africa. All of the species of Bustard are large birds which live in semi arid  habitats and they are mainly ground  dwelling, i.e. they nest and feed on the ground, rely on  their camouflage for protection and  walk or run rather than fly. The males’ breeding plumage and displays are amazing sights . The agony of  bustards is that they come under threat from many  quarters, not helped by their  ground living habit and many of the species of bustards are now  under serious threat. Among the issues are  collisions with structures and in particular power lines which is not helped by the fact  that Bustards have very limited forward vision, their eyes being placed on either side of their head. Another major threat in  many countries is hunting of Bustards for sport. Poisoning either from pesticides and pollution, or deliberately by local people to try to prevent  incomers trespassing  to hunt them is another problem. They are long lived birds and their rate of breeding doesn’t meet  the numbers which die unnaturally .