Category: Events

To help everyone through lockdown, we ran a series of much-enjoyed virtual talks at and after the Annual Conference.

With spring and the easing of lockdown, we have paused these events. Keep an eye on this website though, as we will have more, including an exciting one in July.

Restore Nature Now – London 22 June

SOS is proud to be registered as a supporter of this important initiative.

Most of the large conservation and wildlife groups are encouraging their members to attend this event. The urgent need to reverse the decline in nature, and the scale of the issue, have brought many different organisations together. The Woodland Trust, The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and WWT will be represented on a march to Parliament Square where a wide range of voices from across many organisations and societies will be demanding a brighter nature-filled future.

As our members will be only too aware, the decline in bird populations has been catastrophic, with a BTO survey showing 73 million birds lost in the past 50 years and the Government’s own figures revealing that 48% of all bird species have declined in numbers in just 5 years, from 2015 to 2020.

If you would like to lend your support to this peaceful and non party political event, further details can be found at

The aims of this event are to see UK politicians show strong domestic and global nature and climate leadership by:

1. Giving a pay-rise for nature

2. Making polluters pay

3. Delivering more space for nature

4. Putting a right to a healthy environment in law

5. Ensuring fair and effective climate action

Nearer the date more details will be added to the website, with answers to frequently asked questions such as about toilet facilities, or disability access, during the day.

This will be a fully family-friendly occasion, with many children present (and lots of fun posters and costumes to amuse them!). It will be stewarded with safety and well-being in mind.

Key dates

Sat 22 June
12 noon assemble
2pm March starts
2.30pm Parliament Square

SOS AGM – Saturday April 13th

Members are reminded that the 2024 AGM will take place on Saturday 13 April (not the 20 April as advised in the 2024 programme).

It will be held at The Adastra Hall in Hassocks with a 2.30 start. After the AGM and a refreshment break there will be a presentation on the currently ongoing Downs to Sea project including the regeneration of the Ferry Pond at Pagham, the Society has committed funds to this project and we thought it would be interesting to see how things are progressing.

All members are welcome, please contact Alan – for any further information.

Upcoming SOS webinars

Two engaging online sessions are now open for bookings, speeding us towards lighter, brighter days.

Join rising star in the birding world and SOS Council member Mya Bambrick, who takes us on a journey sharing her birding highlights from her recent ‘21 Walks before 21‘. This session takes place at 7.30pm on Tuesday 27th February.

This will be an engaging and informative look at birding through Mya’s lens as a young naturalist. Register here to reserve your place.


Are you concerned by the impact of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) on our local bird populations? Join us on Tuesday 2nd April 2024 at 7.30pm led by expert, Claire Smith, RSPB Senior Policy Officer and lead on HPAI.

Entitled ‘Population Impacts of Avian Influenza‘. Claire will be talking about her HPAI work and the steps being taken by the RSPB to mitigate the risks. Sign up here to register.


Q&A sessions will follow the 40 minute talks and all are most welcome.




Annual General Meeting

Come along to our AGM to hear more about the wonderful Knepp story from Penny Green.

Date/Time: April 1, 2023 14:30hrs
Place: Adastra Hall, 31 Keymer Road Hassocks BN6 8AH

Important note: There is a rail strike scheduled for this day, so please travel to this event by other means.

Sorry, this event is for Sussex Ornithological Society Members only, if you wish to join, which is only £14pa for individuals or £17pa joint/family, please do so by this link,

Penny Green is Knepp’s resident ecologist, managing the Knepp Safaris team, volunteers and research students, and co-ordinating the biological monitoring of the rewilding project. She studied countryside management at Brinsbury College and went on to work with the National Trust, the Sussex Wildlife Trust and then the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre.

Penny’s presentation will no doubt include things about Knepp’s turtle doves, purple emperors and the plethora of other wildlife that have made Knepp their home.

Penny is passionate about biological recording and loves to enthuse others with wildlife-watching. In her spare time, she’s having adventures moth trapping and bird-ringing, and loves to do a bit of trail running.

She sits on various committees including the Sussex Mammal Group, the Sussex Dragonfly Group, the Sussex Moth Group and the Sussex Committee for Biological Recording.

[Photos: Ben Andrew ©]

SOS Conference 2022

Sussex Ornithological Society Online Conference 2022

 The Conference is online again this year with events on the evenings of the 29th and 30th January. We are pleased to welcome four great speakers over the two nights.

Saturday 29th January will be a wader special with talks on Greenshank and Green Sandpiper. Pete Potts and Ken Smith will be revealing the secrets of these two amazing migrants from their long-term studies.

Sunday 30th January we welcome our special guest, award winning author of the fantastic book Rebirding, Ben Macdonald. As a prelude, Tim Squire will talk about the conservation of the South Downs.

Saturday 29th January 7-9 pm

 Register for Saturday Evening

 Ken Smith, Sussex Ornithological Society

 Tracking Green Sandpipers in space and time

 Ken Smith is now retired and lives in West Sussex, but for almost 30 years he worked for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in what is now the Centre for Conservation Science. Over that time, he worked on a wide range of species and habitats and contributed to many conservation initiatives. Since moving from Hertfordshire, he has joined the scientific committees of both Sussex and Hampshire Ornithological Societies.

Although best known for his long-term studies of woodpeckers, especially the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker project with his wife Linda, these are not his only long-term studies. With a small group of fellow Hertfordshire bird ringers, he carried out intensive studies of Green Sandpipers in the county since the mid-1980s. In this talk he will reveal many new features of the behaviour, ecology, habitat usage and movements of this enigmatic and difficult to observe wader species.

Pete Potts

 Greenshank geolocator studies in Chichester Harbour

Pete Potts lives in Hampshire and has run a series of shorebird ringing projects in the Solent for over 30 years with the Farlington Ringing Group, including the Greenshank study. Actively involved with wader research projects from Iceland to west Africa, he has led over 50 international expeditions studying primarily Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits. Pete is an active member of the International Wader Study Group presenting papers & chairing conference sessions.

Pete worked for 32 years in nature conservation and reserve management and was awarded an English Nature SSSI Award. Pete was awarded the BTO Bernard Tucker medal for shorebird work in The Solent. He presented the annual Bernard Tucker Memorial Lecture at the Ashmolean Museum on the Greenshank project. He now undertakes ecological & habitat management consultancy work.

Sunday 30th January 7-9 pm

 Register for Sunday Evening

Benedict Macdonald

A journey into a richer natural and wilder UK full of birds

Ben is a conservation writer, producer in wildlife television, and naturalist, passionate about restoring Britain's wildlife, pelicans included.  He has worked in television as a producer for the BBC, ITV, Netflix and Apple.  Sir David Attenborough's Our Planet (Netflix), a series he worked on for three years, was awarded two Emmy's in 2019.  He is the author of Rebirding, winner of the Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation, which is a vision for the Rewilding of Britain and its birds. He will talk about how there is space for incredible wildlife to return to the UK and how changing the vast ecological deserts that dominate our landscape can benefit us all and see wildlife in abundance again.

Tim Squire, Sussex Ornithological Society

 Conservation of the South Downs

 Tim Squire, as well as being your humble SOS Conference Organiser, is a Ranger for the South Downs National Park Authority. He has worked on many restoration projects of the precious chalk grassland habitat that is so special to the South Downs. He will tell the story of what makes chalk grassland the amazing habitat that it is, the threats to its continuing existence and what we can do to save it.

Non-members are welcome to join us for all or some of the sessions; any donations via the “Donate to SOS” button would be much appreciated!

January events

The SOS apologises that, due to unavoidable circumstances, the winter newsletter, accompanied by the events programme, has been delayed and will not be despatched until the New Year.


The dates for events during January are:


Date Venue

8 Jan

Rye Harbour LNR: Meet in car park at  09.30 hrs 189/TQ941189. Half day. Leader: Chris Bentley, Warden (a small donation to the reserve welcomed). New Visitor Centre has toilets and food.

16 Jan

RSPB Pagham Harbour:  Meet at RSPB Pagham Harbour Visitor Centre at 09:30  hrs 197/SZ857966 access from B2145 south of Sidlesham.  Public transport: Stagecoach route 51 link service from Chichester bus station to Selsey stops outside visitor centre.  Half day. Leader:  Andrew House 

19 Jan

Amberley Wildbrooks: Meet in Amberley Village at 14.00 at the junction of Church Street and High Street. 197/TQ032132

Please park considerately in the village best near the school and walk to meeting point.   Our aim is to walk out over brooks until dusk for raptors and owls. Wellingtons are essential, it will be muddy 2.5 miles.   Leader Bernie Forbes (07852 8208860)


Sat & Sun

29/30 Jan

SOS Conference:   See separate post for details of online events and how to attend.

SOS virtual talks 2022 and your videos

A heads up that the society will be offering more online talks in 2022 after the SOS Conference. These will include one on Barn Owls and one on the important work that the society does on conservation issues in Sussex. Full details of these and other talks will be announced in the New Year.

Also, you will see on our Youtube channel two excellent additions to the “Your videos” playlist, including one just added showing in slow motion young Barn Swallows being fed by an adult, filmed by Tom Forbes.

If you would like to give an online talk, do please let me know, and likewise I would be delighted to add short videos that you have recorded to the society’s Youtube channel.

Mark Mallalieu

Q and A: White-tailed Eagle Talk

Here are the questions and answers that we could not address on the day. Steve Egerton-Read has been on leave, hence the slight delay. The talk was and remains (based on YouTube views so far) one of our most popular ever talks. If you’ve not had a chance to see it, it’s here.


Question Answer(s)
1 What did they do differently that led to success [compared to the Fair Isle attempt]? This pioneering project only released four birds, juvenile mortality is high – approximately 40% survive to adulthood (five years old), unfortunately none of these birds are thought to have survived to adulthood. Subsequent projects not only refined release methodology but released a greater number of birds, however without this pioneering project things could be very different today. The reintroduction in Scotland is well-documented by a number of authors.
2 Didn’t see the episode but i was told Countryfile showed a clip purporting to show a WTE taking a lamb in 2017. have I been misled? Conflict with livestock farming is not documented in the nearby Netherlands or other parts of north-western Europe, nor has it been documented to date following the Irish reintroduction. Conflict in Scotland has been reported, though the reasons behind this conflict are complex – one possible reason is the lack of naturally available prey in western Scotland. The project anticipates that white-tailed eagles will not come into conflict with livestock farmers here in southern England, as the landscape, land-use and natural prey availability is similar to that of the Netherlands.
3 Where do they go in the non-breeding season? Territorial pairs typically occupy their home range throughout the year across most of lowland Europe. Some populations are more migratory, particularly in the far north of their range, where food is much less readily available during the winter months. Juveniles tend to be more nomadic throughout the year.
4 I see that white tailed eagle was seen at Rye harbour nature reserve recently. Does this mean that they are nesting in the area or are they traveling long distance to feed? There are presently no breeding white-tailed eagles in England, the birds released on the Isle of Wight aren’t expected to start breeding until 2024. Juvenile white-tailed eagles wander great distances, the Isle of Wight released birds have been seen across much of England but there are also occasional Continental juveniles that appear from time-to-time.
5 Why won’t the project reach 60 bird releases in 5 years? The project is licensed to release up-to 60 birds over a five-year period. To date the project has released 25 with two years left on the present licence.
6 Is there a danger of WTEs trying and failing to replicate the artificial IoW “nests”? No, white-tailed eagles will not try to replicate the release aviaries. The same methods the project uses on the Isle of Wight have been used in successful reintroduction projects in Scotland and Ireland, where white-tailed eagles have re-established as breeding birds.
7 Do they eat carrion? White-tailed eagles are generalist predators, taking what is most readily available in the environment. Carrion can be an important consituent of these birds diet, particularly for juveniles during their first winter. Across much of their range, fish is taken preferentially when available.
8 We’ve had a lot of visits from G408 in the Arun Valley this year – is this a good sign that a pair will choose this location to breed? And when do you hope the first pair from the IoW scheme will breed? A number of white-tailed eagles from the project have spent time in the Arun Valley, hopefully in the not too distant future white-tailed eagles will breed in Sussex again, as to where, we will have to wait and see. First breeding is not expected until 2024 at earliest.
9 Would the eagles be a threat to the white storks breeding at Knepp ? White-tailed eagles and white storks co-exist throughout many parts of Europe.
10 Does the fact that the translocated birds are not fed by an adult bird affect the way they will provision their own young when they breed? The project replicates a wild nest as closely as possible, the juveniles collected are capable of tearing up their own food and at that age, adults will simply leave food in the nest for them. Other reintroduction projects in Scotland and Ireland have used the same methods and as a result, white-tailed eagles have re-established as a breeding species.
11 Do you test the birds you translocate genetically so that there is variation in the translocated population? The project collects birds from as wide an area in Scotland as possible but it may be possible for an academic institution to investigate the relatedness released by the project.
12 Where do the original reintroduction birds come from and is there sufficient genetic diversity? Juveniles are sourced from Scotland under licence from NatureScot, the population is still expanding in Scotland and now exceeds 150 pairs. This population was established from several reintroduction efforts, with birds sourced from Norway – one of the last strongholds for white-tailed eagles in Europe.
13 At what point will you stop taking birds from nests and rearing/releasing them? Presently, the project holds a five-year licence from Natural England to release white-tailed eagles on the Isle of Wight, this licence was granted in 2019.
14 The map showing where birds have visited on their explorations seemed to show that they’re not too impressed with Wales, any known reason for this? White-tailed eagles travel widely in their first few years before returning to their natal area to set up breeding territories. We hope an academic study using the GPS data may help us understand more about these journeys. The map in the presentation was only a snapshot of the data we have, one bird G318, a female released in 2019, visited north Wales earlier this year.


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