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Group meeting via Zoom on Wednesday 31st March - Minutes

Started by SteveB, April 01, 2021, 01:07:25 pm

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Held via Zoom on Wednesday 31st March 2021 staring at 10.30 a.m.

Present: Trisha Biffen, Steve Brady, Sue George, Dorothy Huthwaite. Myles Huthwaite, Rosey Mitchell, Adrian Pugh (Preseli U3A), Geoff Winterman

Steve, the Group Leader, welcomed all attendees and thanked Trisha for letting us use her professional Zoom account, which would not, and did not, expire after 40 minutes. 

Wendy Symonds had apologised for absence as she was unwell, and Pete and Carol Hall subsequently apologised because, for technical reasons they thought were at their end, they could not connect to the Zoom URL and hence did not attend as they had wished. 

The provisional Programme circulated previously was agreed as a basis for activities over the coming season, subject to CoVID-19 regulations in force at the time. It will therefore be issued to members as a, still necessarily somewhat provisional, Summer Programme, subject to change if necessary/deemed desirable. 

As well as the sites on this Programme, Adrian also suggested The Gann https://www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/things-to-do/walking-in-the-park/web-walks/the-gann/

as a good birdwatching site. A morning visit there could be followed by a visit to the hides at Marloes Sands in the afternoon to make a day of it. Pete Hall had also suggested the ponds area at the old airfield at St. David's. Steve and he will reconnoitre this site next week. Seal pup viewing on the coast path is also a possible activity for Setember.

Walk Organisers (i.e. mostly Steve this season!) should similarly reconnoitre all sites prior to our visits. Things to look out for, and inform putative attendees of beforehand, include parking and toilet facilities (including costs of parking), duration and difficulty of the walk, type of footwear required, and any Health & Safety issues (U3A requires a Risk Assessment before each walk, which must be signed on the day by participants). When such are open again, a post-walk refreshment venue - such as a pub - if available nearby should also be identified by the walk organiser. Alternatively, attendees could bring sandwiches if they wished.

Whilst the Walk Leader will normally physically lead the walkers, to avoid stragglers becoming lost a Walk Hindmost will be appointed for each walk, to act as "Tail-End Charlie" and go at the back of the walkers, ensuring none are left behind. It would also be desirable to identify walkers on each walk with first-aid expertise and bring at least a basic First Aid Kit. 

Steve plans to issue a monthly newsletter by e-mail and via the Forum, normally early each month, confirming the selected site for the 4th Wednesday of that month. Other relevant contributions to this would be very welcome. Given weather and possible short-notice CoVID rule tightening or relaxation constraints, an e-mail/forum post confirming the walk is going ahead - or not! - should be issued by the Walk Leader via e-mail and Forum the day before.

There was a discussion about what to do if a walk has to be cancelled at short notice. Given possible clashes with other U3A activities, it was agreed that no attempt would be made to reschedule cancelled walks outside our slot of Last Wednesday Moring of the Month.   

The point was made that, if restrictions continue to ease and especially if foreign holidays remain difficult or impossible this year, many of the better-known sites may be unusually beswarmed with our conspecifics this season. For that reason, any suggestions of "hidden gem" sites would be most welcome.

It was generally felt that during the "off season", probably from October to March inclusive, monthly indoor, rather than outdoor, meetings would be desirable, if permitted. Myles observed that the previous incarnation of the Natural History Group had been able to get speakers for these, and Steve undertook to try to continue this tradition. A local Solitary Bee expert and the RSPB were suggested as possible sources of speakers, as was the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The latter is apparently under a statutory duty to engage with interested local groups. Geoff very kindly offered to prepare a short talk at each meeting to be given before the main speaker's talk on what is to be seen in the night sky in the coming month, which was gladly accepted. Any and all suggestions of possible indoor meeting speakers would be most welcome.

Whilst the Merlin's Bridge Hall venue is, apparently, available for our use on the fourth Wednesday morning of each month, it was observed that this facility is cold and draughty and has no Internet connection. Apparently U3A may get the use of a newly built meeting venue in Neyland, which may remedy these issues. Steve to discuss with Jan Manning.

Various plans for a more ambitious post-CoVID programme, hopefully possible in 2022, were discussed such as group-booked boat trips to Skomer, Ramsey Island and around Grassholm and possibly seal pup viewing from a boat, but these must await events. 

There being no further business Steve brought proceedings to a close, thanking attendees for their contributions and Trisha also again for hosting the meeting, at 11.40 a.m.