Cafe Sci

Celebrating 20 years of Cornish Chough | The Cornish Chough Project

Thursday, 6th October 2022 at 7:30pm. Register your interest via Eventbrite.

Hilary Mitchell will cover the history of the Cornish Chough, together with insights into the species’ behaviour and where we are today.

Celebrating 20 years of Cornish Chough | The Cornish Chough Project image

About our speaker: Hilary Mitchell

Hilary is a birder with a keen interest in Cornish geology and is a member of RGSC. Hilary is one of the joint editors of “Birds in Cornwall”, the county bird report which you may receive if you are also Cornwall Birds (CBWPS) members.

Hilary has been a Chough volunteer since 2013, for both RSPB and NT and looks after the Cornish Chough database on behalf of Cornwall Birds which includes the Chough sighting emails sent into choughs@cbwps.org.uk.

Cafe Sci

Climate crisis on our doorstep?

This event has been postponed until after summer. Sign up to our mailing list to be informed of the new time and day once it is available.

Marine plastic pollution is one of the most visible environmental problems of our time – but has it made us miss the elephant in the room?

Climate crisis on our doorstep? | Claire Wallerstein image

About the talk

Claire spent many years running a Cornish beach cleaning group and campaigning about marine plastic.

However, over time she started to question whether the huge public focus on the very obvious issue of plastic pollution might mean we were failing to address a much bigger problem for the marine environment – climate change.

Climate crisis on our doorstep? | Claire Wallerstein image

About our speaker

Claire Wallerstein set up and for eight years ran an extremely active Cornish beach cleaning and marine plastic campaigning charity, and was the co-founder of the Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition.

She now works as the producer for the charity Cornwall Climate Care, which is making a series of 30-minute documentaries about various climate-related topics, aiming to inspire community conversations and action in Cornwall.

Her previous professional background was in print and radio journalism, reporting from South East Asia and South America for the Guardian and BBC World Service, among others. She was also a press officer for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and worked for many years as a translator in Spain.

Cafe Sci

Is the Weather Changing in Cornwall? | Kernow Weather Team

Wednesday, 18th May 2022. Register your interest via Eventbrite.

Is the Weather Changing in Cornwall?: Implications and Perspectives from the Kernow Weather Team

Is the Weather Changing in Cornwall? | Kernow Weather Team image

About the talk

Weather is one of the main talking points in life, if you’re meeting friends, family or business associates it’s always a talking point. “It’s too wet, too cold, most often in Cornwall too humid or windy” and then in the blink of an eye “it’s too hot!!” I think we are all guilty of making conversations out of the weather but how much do you understand about it? That’s something we at Kernow Weather Team want to change.

You may be wondering who we are. We were an idea thought up by three like minded people five years ago. Trying to find an accurate forecast was always difficult, with Cornwall’s unique peninsula position and geography it spawns microclimates. A general Southwest forecast often leaves the Cornish community puzzled. Before Kernow Weather Team’s launch most people just looked out of the window and guessed what the day will do from what they could see. Now they have a knowledgeable and experienced team to rely on. Over five years the team has grown, allowing us to be able to share that knowledge, making it understandable to everyone. We explain the science behind it from “What is rain?” to “How heavy are big cumulonimbus thunderclouds?”, in a way that the everyday person can grasp and not be afraid to ask for clarification. We have kept our ethos, in keeping the community as part of the team, we don’t want to be the untouchables and many followers feel we are their family. We are unique offering support and advice from everyday through to many weather events often over 24 or more hours. Dave is our lead forecaster and qualified meteorologist. Among his other interests, he is currently studying volcanology and seismology. Somewhere in his busy schedule he wishes to fit in a little tornado and hurricane chasing too.

We have been monitoring how the weather is changing here in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as well as the rest of the world. Yes, it’s changing rapidly and what was an isolated and rare weather event is now becoming more common. What will happen to Cornwall when the sea warms up just by a few degrees? It’s a frightening thought – are we prepared?

Thankfully, the use of satellites to help with weather forecasting greatly benefits not just tracking weather systems, it also helps us predict and monitor changes closely.

Is the Weather Changing in Cornwall? | Kernow Weather Team image
Cafe Sci

The Coastal Blue-Green. Why are seagrass and kelp forests so important?

13th April 2022, 7:30pm. Register your interest HERE.

Dr Ian Hendy will be talking to us about the importance of seagrass and kelp forests around the world.

About the talk

Coastal and near-shore marine vegetated ecosystems are essential for life on Earth. Ecosystems including mangrove forests, saltmarsh, seagrass beds and kelp forests are incredible carbon sinks. These habitats drawdown huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, and deliver an amazing list of ecosystem services including (1) mitigation of climate change, (2) improving water quality, (3) significant enhancement to fishery biomass, (4) improved nursery function, and (5) deliver food provisioning for many communities. However, we are losing these essential ecosystems rapidly. These losses magnify issues associated with climate change, and the increase of habitat loss only serves to exacerbate the sixth mass extinction. We have seen between 80 to 90 % loss of kelp forests spanning Canada to Norway and at the current rate of loss, the UK will have zero kelp forests by the end of this century – resulting in more than a 90 % loss of marine wildlife. In addition, we have lost more than 90% of our seagrass habitats in the UK. Find out how we aim to bring back these crucial ecosystems, and what lessons can we learn.


		The Coastal Blue-Green. Why are seagrass and kelp forests so important? image

About our speaker – Dr. Ian Hendy

Dr. Ian Hendy is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Coastal Ecosystems at the University of Portsmouth. Ian is an editor and author of the Seagrass Restoration Handbook: UK and Ireland. His most recent research has been based in the mangrove forests of Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, with interests focused upon the essential role of ecosystem engineers, the factors that influence biodiversity, the recycling of carbon in coastal ecosystems and the enhancement of, and conservation of marine fisheries and MPAs. As a professional marine conservation ecologist, Ian’s research investigates and seeks to understand how human interactions, environmental variation and climate change are responsible for altering biodiversity, biomass and productivity. Ian’s aim is to facilitate the rewilding of marine ecosystems in an effort to restore the natural ecology, biodiversity and energy flows – focussing on the structure and function of ecosystems. In particular, Ian looks for unusual patterns within his data, and strives to understand reasons driving diminishing aquatic ecosystems and how best to improve, restore and manage those impacts.

Cafe Sci

Microplastics as vectors of antimicrobial resistance in aquatic systems

Wednesday, 16th February 2022 7:30pm.

Emily Stevenson will be talking to us about her research relating to antimicrobial resistance in relation to microplastics.

About the talk

Emily’s research aims to investigate whether microplastics are important platforms for the growth, enrichment and dissemination of AMR biofilms, and whether there are associated ecological implications of microplastics, antimicrobials and AMR on the gut microbiota of marine organisms.


		Microplastics as vectors of antimicrobial resistance in aquatic systems image

About our speaker – Emily Stevenson

Emily Stevenson has recently started a PhD investigating microplastics as vectors for antimicrobial resistance in aquatic systems, under the supervision of Dr Aimee Murray and Professor Angus Buckling at the University of Exeter, and Professor Pennie Lindeque and Dr Matthew Cole at Plymouth Marine Laboratory. This builds on research Emily carried out during her Masters degree in 2019/20 in which she researched the role of microplastics in the dissemination of potentially pathogenic or antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Between completing her Masters and beginning her PhD, Emily worked on a project with the University of Exeter’s Medical School, MRC Centre for Medical Mycology and the Environment Agency, investigating antifungal resistance in the environment, and she has also continued to research antimicrobial resistance in the environment as a research technician for Dr Aimee Murray, working on Dr Murray’s ‘SELECT method’.

Emily is also actively engaged in public engagement and policy-influencing: in 2021, she joined the official youth engagement group of the G7 on the ‘climate and environment policy track’, ensuring that the environmental policy priorities of the youth (those aged 18-30) are heard and considered at the highest level of international decision making.

Finally, Emily is the co-founder of Cornwall based conservation NGO, Beach Guardian. Beach Guardian aims to empower communities to tackle plastic waste, and addresses critical environmental issues at policy, industry, education, and individual levels. Since 2017, Beach Guardian has engaged with every primary & secondary school and college in Cornwall and worked with some of the world’s largest companies, to help them reduce their reliance on plastics, such as PepsiCo and Nissan. Through this work, Emily has been recognised by the British Prime Minister with a ‘Point of Light’ award and was awarded the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action and humanitarian efforts: the Diana Award.

Cafe Sci

Conserving Amazing Apes and Cryptic Cats: Tales from Indonesian Borneo

Wednesday, 17th November 2021 at 6pm. Register your interest HERE.

A virtual talk by Dr Susan Cheyne, co-director of Borneo Nature Foundation.

About this event

Dr Susan Cheyne has worked in South East Asia since 1997 and in Indonesia since 2002. She received her PhD from the University of Cambridge on primate ecology and conservation looking into the illegal pet trade of gibbons and studying the rehabilitation and reintroduction successes of these threatened apes. As a co-director of Borneo Nature Foundation International, she leads a team working on the conservation of primates and wild cats using camera trap technology to understand the movement, distribution and conservation status of these threatened cats.

How to Register

This event has been organised in collaboration with and is hosted by the Royal Society of Biology: Devon and Cornwall Branch.

For this event only, please register through the RSB website here.
The event is free to attend, although you will need to register for an RSB account in order to sign up. Please note that you will receive a Zoom link to join the event immediately before the talk.
Please get in touch if you have any issues or questions about registration.

Cafe Sci

Our Iconic Seals – Think Seal! | Sue Sayer

A recording of this talk is now available on Youtube.

Sue Sayer from the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust will be talking to us about wild seal behaviour and what we can do for them.


		Our Iconic Seals - Think Seal! | Sue Sayer image

About the talk

This brand-new talk is aimed at sharing observations of natural wild seal behaviour gathered over two decades. If we begin to imagine what it might be like to be a seal, we can better appreciate what seals need from us. Beautifully illustrated with video content, discover the links seals make between sea and land, their main behavioural drivers and how their world is changing. We end with an optimistic plan for the future, to ensure this wild marine heritage species thrives for coming generations to smile about as well.

The talk will be given by Sue Sayer, founder of the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust The Trust is a multi award winning, evidence-based conservation charity passionately protecting Cornwall’s precious marine species and their environment for future generations to enjoy.

The talk will be 45 minutes long with a Q&A following afterwards.


		Our Iconic Seals - Think Seal! | Sue Sayer image

About our speaker – Sue Sayer

Founder of the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust, Sue Sayer, is an internationally renowned researcher and author. Over 20 years, she has spent thousands of hours observing seals in the wild from land and at sea in Cornwall. To Sue there is no such thing as an average seal. Each one looks different, has a unique personality, range of habits and migration route around the Celtic Sea! Sue’s love for seals shines through as she talks about seals in her own unique and animated way.

Cafe Sci

The Battle that saved Cornwall

Wednesday, 2nd June at 5:30 pm.

John Fletcher will be discussing the Battle of Hehil and the emergence of the Early Medieval Cornish State.


		Virtual Café Sci | The Battle that Saved Cornwall image

About the talk

During the Summer of 722 the invading army of Saxon Wessex was met by a force of Native Britons at a place called Hehil. Despite a string of earlier victories this time the Saxons were defeated and forced into retreat, marking the start of a century of prolonged conflict that would serve to protect and preserve not only the Kingdom of Kernow but also the unique culture, language, and heritage of the Cornish.

This talk will aim to put the battle in its proper context by looking at the wider period and events, while also touching on the factors that have kept it, and other aspects of Early Medieval Cornwall, relatively unknown.


		Virtual Café Sci | The Battle that Saved Cornwall image

About our speaker – John Fletcher

John Fletcher has spent sixteen years recreating the life, crafts and combat of Early Medieval Britain as a reenactor. For much of that time his focus has been on the history of Cornwall and the South West after moving to the region in 2006 to attend the University of Plymouth and remaining there ever since. He is the chairman of the Hehil 1300 Committee who are seeking to put on a Festival of Cornish Heritage to commemorate 1300 years since the eponymous Battle.

Not a trained historian, John has a BSc in Environmental Sciences and completed his dissertation studying Climate Change on Early Medieval Dartmoor.


		Virtual Café Sci | The Battle that Saved Cornwall image
Cafe Sci

Automated Astrophotography, an Introduction

Fred Deakin will be introducing us to the world of modern astrophotography and how it works.


		Virtual Café Sci | Automated Astrophotography, an Introduction image

About the talk

Astrophotography used to mean spending hours outside in the dark and cold to get an image of one of the many targets above us. Now-a-days, with most astrophotographers needing their sleep for their work the next day, or not wanting to spend hours in the shivering cold, automation tools especially in the advance of software has meant they can stay in the warm and just let the telescopes do all the work automatically. It is since the introduction of this type of image capturing that the hobby has boomed in popularity and more and more very deep and incredibly long image runs can take place. It is not uncommon for astro-images to now be made of 20 or 40 hours of exposures, bringing unparalleled detail and beauty to the hands of amateurs. This introduction will show the types of tools needed, the methods used, and the philosophy behind bringing the heavens much closer.


		Virtual Café Sci | Automated Astrophotography, an Introduction image

About our speaker – Fred Deakin

Fred is a design engineer and has run his own company for the past seventeen years, designing and manufacturing machines to clean up our waterways. Prior to that Fred worked for the Medical Research Council in Oxford for many years. Cornwall was Fred’s real home though and he decided to return and change profession so he could be back in the place he’s always loved. Fred has always been interested in the night sky, and even as a teenager would be out on clear nights looking up at the night sky to see what he could find. In 2008 he had an industrial accident and the subsequent medication had the side-effect of reducing his eyesight enough that looking through an eyepiece was not the same. He decided to try his hand at astrophotography, and as they say the rest is history.

You can see more of Fred’s work on his Facebook page by clicking this link.

Cafe Sci

Social smarts: how jackdaws use each other to learn

Josh Arbon will be discussing how jackdaws cooperate and learn from one another and the wider implications of the research.


		Virtual Café Sci | Social smarts: how jackdaws use each other to learn image

About the talk

How does being scared help birds thrive in new environments? Want to know what remote controlled bird feeders can tell us about cooperation and the evolution of intelligence? How can eating cheese in Cornwall help save a species in Hawaii?


		Virtual Café Sci | Social smarts: how jackdaws use each other to learn image

About our speaker – Josh Arbon

Josh Arbon is a PhD student at the University of Exeter who studies the social cognition of jackdaws, a member of the crow family. Using study sites in the local area, Josh investigates how birds navigate their social and physical landscape as well as how they learn new information about each other and their environment. In his talk, Josh will reveal how the work of the Cornish Jackdaw Project has shed light on these issues and aims to further our understanding of how animals interact with the world around them.


		Virtual Café Sci | Social smarts: how jackdaws use each other to learn image