Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Nancy Loft Memorial Lecture

The annual Nancy Loft Memorial Lecture was, this year, given by Paul Learoyd, Chief Executive of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, on the 23rd of November 2018.

Paul's talk ranged widely over the work of the Trust, illustrating the diverse issues that have to be faced, referencing the county's wide range of habitats and biodiversity.  We heard first about some of the species in decline; the Lapwing, so symbolic to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, is now just an overwintering visitor and no longer seen in the summer; the Bullfinch, once regarded as a pest, is now an uncommon sight in many parts of the county. Wood pigeons, on the other hand, are now counted in millions. Another group of animals, the slugs, are represented by some fifty species in Lincolnshire, few of them pests, but, as Paul wryly commented, it is hard to get a membership subscription on the slogan 'Save the Lincolnshire Slugs'.

Little Egrets are now common and the Great White Egret sometimes seen. Change is upon us, be it climate change related, the loss of habitats or the establishment of new habitats. How to manage our land and reserves is central to the Trust's decision making. Unexpected events such as the emergence of Chalara, the Ash die-back disease, is a major challenge as it affects one of our commonest trees and the couple of dozen species dependent upon it. Public perception of different species varies; everyone loves the Primrose, so important to insects emerging early in the year, but Ragwort is less universally loved. Paul stressed its value in the ecosystem, with its 25 dependent insects, including the well-known Cinnabar Moth, and its continual flowering through the years, providing nectar well into autumn.

Lincolnshire has some real rarities. The Natterjack Toad, first described at Revesby by Joseph Banks, is now restricted to a small colony of perhaps three dozen individual adults at Rimac. At the same location we find the only British representatives of the Marsh Moth. The Tall Thrift is another rarity, finding its only British home at Ancaster. Record keeping, of both such rarities and the more common species, has been invaluable to our understanding of our wildlife. Over five million records have been built up during a century and more, and the Trust's collaboration with the other members of the Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership (GLNP) has now born fruition in the shape of a searchable database, the LERC Search.

The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust now has over 28000 members and 1500 volunteers. Paul added a note of caution to that last number as many volunteers do their work quietly and may not be known to head office, their work nonetheless being invaluable. The Trust has gradually increased its landholdings of reserves over  the 70 years since Ted Smith, at the age of 28, signed the founding papers, and the following week took the lease of Gibraltar Point. Increasing attention is now being brought to wider landscape man
agement, improving connectivity between reserves with 'corridors' and 'stepping stones', and sometimes, as with the case of the American Signal Crayfish, creating buffers to reduce connectivity and thus lessening the risks presented by invasive species.

Paul turned to matters marine, a large part of Lincolnshire's wildlife inhabiting our offshore environment.  We have been learning about the damage that waste plastics can do and Paul praised the volunteers who do the beach cleans. Less is generally known about damage underwater, unseen. Trawling the shallow seabeds for brown shrimp wrecks the habitat, much of the produce being exported to South Korea. Lobsters, which can live to 60 years, appear to be doing well but this may be a reflection of removal of predators; over-fishing has meant the cod have gone.  The once vast oyster-beds have also fallen victim to the trawlers.

Back on land, Paul reflected on 70 years of the Trust with photos showing changes in the landscape. The River Lymn, once meandering through it's flood plain and occasionally wetting the water-meadows, now flows straight to the sea within artificial banks. The River Glen, a clear-flowing stream in its headwaters, carries a heavy load of silt from the erosion of agricultural soils. But there are bright spots too, from the borrow-pits on the coastal Marsh, vital resting spots for migrating water-birds, to the former arable land being restored to reedbeds, shallow meres, seasonally flooded pastures and hay meadows of Willow Tree Fen.

The work of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is varied and complex, sometimes balancing and reconciling the needs of different species and habitats in the mosaic of the Lincolnshire landscape. Paul Learoyd is steering a path through this ecosystem.

One of the slides shown during Paul Learoyd's lecture, Jo Mortimer's drawing of the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, once a common top predator in the North Sea, fished to local extinction, but recently returned to our waters.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Louth Watch Report

Louth Watch held a meeting on 18th November in Spout Yard Gallery.
The children had a very busy afternoon with several activities and a story.
Each child planted an acorn in a small pot. We talked about  which tree would grow from an acorn, how big it might grow and how long it might survive.
The  children made small books in which they drew pictures to illustrate how the acorn would grow into an oak tree.
Each child piled and glued lots of different autumn leaves over a picture of a hedgehog.  This illustrated  how a hedgehog might hibernate in a nest of leaves.
They also each drew pictures of animals or flowers on flag shape paper. These were attached to wooden sticks  to make  flags, to celebrate the 70th birthday of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.
The children were given squash and biscuits  that had kindly been donated by the Co-op in Northgate.
There was a very happy atmosphere, but a little disappointing that we had not attracted more children.

Friday, 16 November 2018



The Group’s last meeting of 2018 will be at 7.30pm at the Nichol Hill Methodist Church in Louth on Friday 23 November. This is the annual Nancy Loft Memorial Lecture when the Chief Executive of the Trust, Paul Learoyd, will talk about 'The Work of the Trust’. There have been some dynamic forward-looking developments recently, so this is an ideal opportunity to learn about what is happening and what will happen in the LWT.


At 2000hrs on Friday 16 November the count was 334 Bulls, 1058 Cows and 943 Pups.
I have taken the information below from the LWT website for your information. Please abide by these regulations that have come into force to manage the high volume of visitors who flock to Donna Nook. As ‘locals’ we should try to visit during the week. I find the best time is mid-afternoon when there is a better chance of seeing Pink-foot geese, Brent geese and Golden plover swirling in the sky.
There is a one-way traffic system. The main car park is privately operated and charges £5 per car (all day parking) on weekends, and £4 per car on weekdays. They offer catering facilities and portaloos but there is no disabled access. This car park only opens during seal season - late October through to December. 20% of the car parking fee is kindly donated to the Trust to help with the upkeep of the nature reserve and protection of the seals.
Stonebridge car park has limited parking and is maintained by the Environment Agency. From here there is easy access to the viewing area and privately-owned catering facilities.
The Seal Viewing Area can be accessed from either car park.
Formal traffic management will be in place on the four busiest weekends (10-11 Nov, 17-18 Nov, 24-25 Nov, 1-2 Dec) with official traffic personnel on site.
They will enforce:
· A one-way system
· No stopping
· Speed restriction
· Blue Badge holders in the designated (Stonebridge) car park

In January 2020 the Louth Area Group will reach its 50th year of existence. I am seeking ideas as to how the half century should be celebrated – possibly with some sort of exhibition. The LAG archives only consist of copies of programmes and some committee minutes. Consequently, I shall be delighted to hear from: -
1. Long standing LAG members who have pored over photograph albums of the period 1970- 2010 to see whether they have pictures that they would permit to be used in a display.
2. Members who have ideas for a low-key event or events that could mark this 50-year point.
3. A person or people who would be prepared to research documents held at LWT HQ, Horncastle.
4. A volunteer or volunteers who would be prepared to manage any planned event or events.

Best wishes
Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area Group

Many thanks for this.
Count me in please.
Sorry, I won't be able to attend.
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Thursday, 8 November 2018

Louth Watch Group

Help us to celebrate  the 70th anniversary of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.
Louth Watch Group are planning an art and craft event based on the natural world.
We will be meeting at Spout Yard Gallery in Louth on 18th November.  
The meeting starts  at 2.00pm. until about 4.00pm.
The event is free.
Children must be accompanied by an adult.
We hope that you can join us

Thursday, 18 October 2018


We start our programme of speaker meetings at 1930hrs on Friday 26 October in the Nichol Hill Methodist Church, Louth. Dr Vin Fleming from the Nature Conservation Committee will tell us about Earthstars, Brittle Gills and Puddockstools. These are not witches who might be around at Halloween; they are the names of fungi that can be found during the Autumn.
The entry fee, including refreshments, remains at £2.50 whilst children are welcome and have free entry.
Our annual fund-raising event will take place at the ConocoPhillips Room in Louth between 1000hrs and noon on Saturday 10 November. There will be a chance to buy Wildlife Trust Christmas cards and calendars plus the opportunity to view presentations as well as having a coffee and a chat. LWT Warden James Forrester will have a collection of various woods to be found in Snipe Dales whilst Biff Vernon will show us some of the art work that was on display at the #200Fish exhibition.
There will be a Raffle! However, we do need prizes. If you are kind enough to donate a prize, please bring it along to the LAG indoor meeting on 26 October or let me know onlag2104rww@aol.com and I will arrange to collect it.
A volunteer is required to deliver 18 copies of the Lapwings magazine three times a year in the Ramsgate/ Eastgate area. Please contact Louise Scott on ryndle38@hotmail.com if you can help.
You may remember that last month I provided information about the splendid, ‘Lost Words’ book that was being delivered to all state schools in Lincolnshire. Three of us were pleased to deliver 18 of these books to schools within the LAG area where they were very well received.
Best wishes
Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area Group

Sunday, 7 October 2018


The first day of wintry weather did not deter over 30 people from many sources coming along to be enthralled by LWT Warden Kevin James as he described how the land went from farmland in 1941 to an RAF airfield. The base was the home of many Lancaster bomber squadrons including 617 – the Dambusters. We stood by the recently constructed war memorial which commemorates the 458 men who did not return home. I think that we were all saddened by the loss of life and some people were rather surprised to be reminded that most of these men would have been under 23.

Post-war the airfield eventually became a sand and gravel extraction site and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust bought the premises a few years ago. When the contractors left they took their pumps with them so what appeared to be sandy heathland rapidly became wetland and reed beds.

Kevin and his team of volunteers from the Horncastle Area Group assisted occasionally by contractors have a long and short-term programme to manage the site to make it look ‘natural’. Their efforts have been rewarded as wild fauna and flora slowly populates the area. One long-time, unwelcome insurgent is the Piri-piri burr which is native to New Zealand. It colonises ground very quickly and its burrs become entangled around insects and the feet of birds. The plant came to the airfield on the knapsacks of RNZAF personnel in 1944!

Our enthusiastic guide has a many facetted role. He tends a flock of black Hebridean sheep and a small herd of Lincoln Red cattle. He uses hydraulic engineering knowledge to manage the water levels to control the reeds, as well as having the overall management of this and other sites.

We did see a dozen or so species of birds including Egyptian geese and a tree full of Cormorants.
However, bird watching was not on list on Sunday. Nevertheless, the two large lakes are a haven for wild fowl and passage migrants. I shall be returning in the Winter months to spend some time in the hide. Contact me on lag2014rww@aol.com  if you would like to come along.  Ray Woodcock