Who We Are

The Shropshire Ornithological Society (SOS) was formed in 1955 with the aims of encouraging the study and protection of birds in Shropshire and elsewhere,  organising a wide range of activities and producing publications to this end, and co-operating with other bodies with similar aims.  This website serves the needs of the branch of the Society in Church Stretton.  All members of the SOS (and non-members) are welcome to take part in branch activities as well as the main activities of the Society.

Breaking News

SWT/SOS Save Our Curlews Campaign. For more information on this important project, follow this link.

Handbook of the Birds of the Europe, the Middle East and North Africa nine-volume set available. This set of the landmark publication, in great condition, is available to the highest bidder, with profits going to the SOS’s activities. For more information, including information on how to bid, select this link.

Branch Secretary Position

VERY URGENT! I will be standing down from the Church Stretton SOS committee at the AGM in January 2018, so we will be in need of a replacement Secretary at that time.  This is not an excessively onerous job and the talk scheduling part is quite satisfying.

The duties of Secretary are as follows.

  • Find and book speakers for monthly meetings.
  • Contact speakers shortly before the meeting at which they will present to sort out last minute details, directions etc.
  • Arrange publicity for each meeting (notices in publications and on email lists, and make and distribute posters around town).
  • Prepare the agenda and minutes of the prior year for the AGM in January.
  • Take minutes at the AGM.
  • Prepare a report for the central society once a year indicating what we have done over that 12 months.

If anyone would be interested in taking on this job, please contact me. Naturally, I will be glad to advise and provide useful files etc to my successor. I would suggest that whoever takes over needs to have access to a computer (for email and creating documents and posters). For your information, I have completed the programme for 2017-18 already and will have finished that for 2018-19 by the time I resign. Hence, the new Secretary can start with the 2019-20 season.

I regret this decision but I am completely swamped with commitments and urgently need to cut down.

John Arnfield


Indoor meetings are held from October to March (excluding December) on the fourth Monday of the month. The venue is The Methodist Church Hall, Watling Street, Church Stretton [MAP] and meetings commence at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free to members: non members are very welcome (admission £2, including refreshments).

Indoor Meeting Programme

The 2016-17 season is now over but the programmes for the next two seasons are well advanced (and are listed below).  Why not put these dates in your calendar now to avoid missing these instructive and entertaining presentations?


January 22, 2018. AGM, followed by “Merseybeat” (Jeff Clarke)

  • Jeff’s ‘local patch’ is the under-regarded upper Mersey Estuary. When you know it as well as he does, the diversity of life and unexpected beauty of the area is brought into sharp relief. A surprising ‘tour de force’ of nature. Jeff’s website is http://www.jeffclarkeecology.co.uk/.

February 26, 2018. “Roadrunner Country” (Keith Offord)

  • For a first wildlife-watching trip to the USA it would be difficult to beat the southern states in spring and no better a starting point than Texas. This massive state straddles both the east and west with a finger of land pointing down into Mexico. Moist woodlands in the east gradually give way to more arid stony desert in the west, bordered by the magnificent Rio Grande. In addition to a fabulous array of resident bird species (including such specialities as Greater Roadrunner and Green Jay), springtime sees the massed arrival of travellers from the south, including multitudes of warblers, hummingbirds, flycatchers and raptors. There are alligators, coyotes and rattlesnakes as well. This talk takes a close look at some of the most exciting wildlife of the southern states, following the Gulf coast right down to Mexico, up to the Big Bend National Park then into the beautiful Edwards Plateau. For more on Keith’s work, see http://www.keithofford.co.uk/.

March 26, 2018. “Finland Through the Seasons” (Philip Mugridge)

  • Finland is a fantastic country for wildlife. Phil has visited many times through the seasons and he will show us birds, including birds of prey, grouse species, owls and a variety  of northern passerines. He will also show us bears and other mammals.  For more on Phil’s work, see http://www.willridgeimages.co.uk/.


October 22, 2018. “A Birding Migration – Birds of Lesvos” (Oliver Smart)

  • Lesvos has been well documented for its impressive list of migratory species passing through each spring. Having visited three years in succession to witness the spectacle of migration Oliver’s talk will visit many of the important birding areas on the island and the value of each to the species that stop to refuel for their long journeys north. Oliver will also illustrate many of the common resident species as well as some other animals that live on this fantastic Greek island. Visit Oliver’s website at http://www.smartimages.co.uk/index.php.

November 26, 2018.  “Shropshire’s Birds – a Diverse Picture” (Allan Heath)

  • In the wider world our county of Shropshire is much maligned as something of a birding desert. However, the rich diversity of habitats combine to paint a very different picture. Through this talk I aim to illustrate some of the amazing birds and wildlife that, through the calendar year, choose to call our wonderful county their home.

January 28, 2019. “From Alaska to Argentina: Wildlife through the Americas” (Mark Sisson)

  • A description of this talk will be posted here shortly.

February 25, 2019. “The Forty Million Year Old Fisherman” (Ellie Rothnie)

  • A description of this talk (which is focused on the Dalmatian Pelican) will be posted here shortly.

March 25th, 2019. “Singing in the Brain: the Science of Birdsong” (Rupert Marshall)

  • What do birds sing, how do they sing it, and why? From cheerful robins singing through the winter to summer migrants arriving late in spring, the world of birds delights us with a tremendous range of abilities and repertoires. But why do they sing so early in the morning? How do they sing such intricate songs?  Using pictures, recordings and short videos I explain the simple principles which underly the evolution of song, from the simplest of tweets to the most complex of whistles and warbles.

SOS (Church Stretton) Email List

We would like to compile a list of email addresses of SOS members in the Church Stretton area and those who attend our meetings (whether members or not) in order to send out event reminders and to warn you of cancellations and changes.  If you would like to be included on this list, please send your name in an email to the Branch Secretary and identify the list you wish to be added to as the “SOS Church Stretton email list”. Your address will be used only for publicising SOS and related events and will not be provided to any outside parties under any circumstances.

Making your Bird Sightings Count

There are several opportunities locally to contribute to bird surveys that will enhance our knowledge of bird life in south-central Shropshire and contribute to conservation efforts.

BTO Garden BirdWatch. Interested in contributing to a scientific knowledge of the relationship between gardens and birds? Join the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden BirdWatch survey and send regular reports of which birds (and other animals) are using your garden. Join now and take advantage of a free book offer. Contact John Arnfield by email or on (o1694) 724 170.

Community Wildlife Groups.  There are eight Community Wildlife Groups in southern Shropshire, which cover most of the Shropshire Hills. All are doing bird surveys, and would welcome the involvement of other birdwatchers.  For information, see the Shropshire Community Wildlife Group website.

Records Needed of Threatened Species.  Leo Smith is interested in all breeding season records of Lapwing, Curlew, Dipper, Barn Owl and Red Kite.  Check here for information on sending him your observations.

Useful Links

All external links on this website open in a new window or tab.

Page updated 05 January 2018 by AJA