Monday, 25 March 2019

February 22nd Meeting

The February meeting of the Louth Area Group of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust featured a talk by Gary Steele on Barn Owls. Unlike most birds, owls have forward looking eyes, giving them faces that we humans can identify with, which, suggested Gary, explains their popularity and significance in our culture. He said they have a great many local and common names and the Barn Owl Trust lists these:

·        Banshee
·        Barn Owl
·        Barnyard Owl
·        Berthuan
·        Billy Whit
·        Billy Wise
·        Billy Wix
·        Cave Owl
·        Cherubim
·        Church Owl
·        Common Owl
·        Death Owl
·        Delicate Owl
·        Demon Owl
·        Dobby Owl
·        Farmer’s Friend
·        Gilli-Howlett
·        Gil-Hooter
·        Ghost Owl
·        Golden Owl
·        Hissing Owl
·        Hobby Owl
·        Hobgoblin Owl
·        Hoolet
·        Jenny Howlet
·        Madge Howlett
·        Moggy
·        Monkey-faced Owl
·        Night Owl
·        Oolert
·        Rat Owl
·        Roarer
·        Screaming Owl
·        Screech Owl
·        Scritch Owl
·        Silver Owl
·        Stone Owl
·        Straw Owl
·        Ullet
·        White Breasted Owl
·        White Hootlet
·        White Owl
·        Woolert
·        Yellow Owl
Lincoln Cathedral has eight stone carvings of barn owls and Tennyson wrote a poem:

The Owl

When cats run home and light is come,
And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,
And the whirring sail goes round,
And the whirring sail goes round;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

When merry milkmaids click the latch,
And rarely smells the new-mown hay,
And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch
Twice or thrice his roundelay,
Twice or thrice his roundelay;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

Lincolnshire has the highest barn owl count of any county but even here numbers are not what they were. In the 1930 there may have been 15,000 pairs but by the 1980s the figure had dropped to about 4,000. There has been a recovery since then, the number of pairs now standing around 8,000. Schedule I protection and the efforts by conservation minded farmers and others may have helped. The principle prey species, the short tailed field-vole, is key. The loss of rough grassland and the phasing out of mixed farming in favour of arable probably accounts for the barn owl’s decline. Recently wildlife-friendly farm management practices such as leaving wider field margins has compensated for some of the loss.

Naturally the barn owl nests in holes in trees, but there are now few suitably large, old and decaying trees. Old barns and sheds are used by the owls as substitutes but modern farm buildings do not provide the same opportunities as traditional barns and outhouses. Many nest sites are now artificial and Gary’s efforts over many years to install owl boxes on poles, in old buildings and, particularly, in church towers, have given the barn owls of eastern Lincolnshire new opportunities.

To find out more about barn owls there is no better starting place than The Barn Owl Trust website.

Other information:

The definitive book is The Barn Owl by D.S Bunn, A.B Warburton, R.D.S Wilson
Here's an online preview.

For the artistically minded here is a handy guide to drawing owls:

1. Draw some circles.
2. Draw the rest of the owl.

Report on Watch Meeting Fossils 17-3-19

The subject of  our meeting on Sunday March 17th at Spout Yard Gallery  was 'Fossils'. It is obviously a very popular subject as seventeen children came to learn more about them.
As children arrived they were each given a word-search on fossils.
We were very lucky that Stuart Sizer, an expert, had agreed to come and tell us about Fossils.
We first watched his short film telling us what fossils are and how they were formed.
Stuart  had brought a large tray containing  sand and small pebbles. He encouraged the children to search in the tray for anything they thought could be a fossil. The children were able to keep any fossils that they found. They were all very keen to join the hunt with the result that each child found several small fossils to take home.
Each child was also able to make a fossil. Plaster was mixed with water to make a paste and a small quantity  put in a pot . A shell was pushed into the top of the mixture and then covered with sand. When the plaster had set, the sand and shell were removed to reveal the outline of a 'fossil' shell in the plaster.
Fossils were also made by pressing shells and other objects into plasticine medallions .  The children also created their own decorated fossils.
We paused during the afternoon for refreshments that had kindly been donated by Louth Co-op.
Overall it was a very productive, if noisy, afternoon.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019


SPEAKER MEETING 29 March, 7.30pm at Nichol Hill Church. Alan Lazenby will ask us, ‘How well do you know your beetles?’ and will fascinate us with details about this huge group of insects. The entry fee, including refreshments, is £2.50. Children are most welcome and have free entry.

The AGM approaches. After a short AGM on 26 April it will be your opportunity to have up to 10 minutes to show wildlife photographs or to give a brief wildlife presentation. Please let me know if you are prepared to let us share your pictures or your knowledge. Give me your pictures on a memory stick and I will put them on my computer for you to display at the meeting.

The ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the Louth Area group of the Lincolnshire wildlife Trust will be held at Nichol Hill Church on Friday 26 April 2019 at 7.30 pm
In accordance with the Constitution, all Committee members and Officers stand down at each AGM. Chairman Ray Woodcock and Secretary Biff Vernon and Treasurer Rod Baddon are willing to be re-elected, as are current committee members: Colin Byatt, Louise Scott, Judith John, and Chris Henderson. New committee members will be welcome; nomination forms are available from the Chairman.

It is 2019. Fresh ideas and new faces are needed. The group can benefit from more committee members. The committee meets three or four times a year. Why not give it a whirl for a year? Speak to me or ask any of the other committee members for more details.

Our hedgehogs are still feeding and snuffling. The trail camera that records their activities picked up a bat at 0536hrs on 3 March. I sent a copy of the photograph to the Lincolnshire County Bat recorder who managed to identify it as a Brown long-eared bat. I also learnt from her that, ‘This bizarre weather is bringing bats out of hibernation early, with a number of other records already. It’s also beginning to bring casualties in: we’ve had yet another today, a severely underweight pipistrelle found in Bourne this morning. There are insects flying, but if there are not enough to replenish the energy bats are needing to fly then they lose weight and finish on the ground, too weak to fly, frequently to be caught by cats or other predators.’

Best wishes
Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area Group

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Report on Louth Watch Meeting 17-2-19

We had a very busy afternoon with a flower theme at Spout Yard on Sunday 17th February.
We began the afternoon asking the twelve children (all girls) to write down the name of a flower for each letter of the alphabet.
We talked about the importance of plants in the world. How they provided food for animals and people. How they attracted pollinators.
We had a short  walk in Spout Yard park to look for any flowers. We saw snowdrops and an early primrose. We looked at the wild flower plots that had been seeded last year by some of the group. Several plants  were already appearing.
We went back into the gallery and looked closely at some flowers, using magnifiers to see the different parts.
The children then made their own flowers. They each painted  a template for flower sepals and petals. A ball of Plasticine was added to a stick to represent the receptacle on a flower stalk.
The sepals and petals were then added. A ball of  Plasticine was added  to represent the ovary. Pipe cleaners were used for the stamens. A small ball of Plasticine was placed on the top of the stick to represent the stigma on top of the style. The results was several  pretty flowers.
The next activity was for the children to make seed balls from a mixture of compost, flour, water and flower seeds. The mixture was squeezed into balls which were then placed on a decorated plate to take home.
The children enjoyed refreshments of juice and biscuits which had been supplied by Northgate Coop.

Thursday, 14 February 2019


We shall be hearing from Conservationist Gary Steele who will be talking about, ‘Barn Owls in Lincolnshire’ next Friday 22 February at 1930 hrs in the Nichol Hill Methodist Church, Louth. The entry fee, including refreshments, is £2.50. Children are most welcome and have free entry.
Last June Jane and I spent a fascinating morning under the tutelage of Gary when we learnt how to identify and record the contents of owl pellets. We are looking forward to meeting him again. 
The AGM approaches. After a shortened version of the AGM it will be your chance to have up to 10 minutes to show wildlife photographs or give brief wildlife presentation. Please let me know if you are prepared to let us share your pictures.
Fresh ideas and new faces are needed. The group needs more committee members. The committee meets three or four times a year. Why not give it a whirl for a year? Speak to me or any of the other committee members for more details.
There is a need for one or two members to take responsibility for the important task of organising of refreshments at our six indoor meetings. Contact Jane Woodcock on to find out what is involved.
Many thanks to the 18 members who let me have a copy of the bird list that they had sent to the RSPB. Between us we recorded 31 different species including a 4 Pheasants, a Heron and a Tawny owl. I have totalled the numbers of the most numerous species from all the gardens for your information.
Sparrow 137, Blackbird 73, Goldfinch 64, Wood pigeon 59, Blue tit 42. Greenfinch 39, Chaffinch 34, Jackdaw 27 [15 in one garden!], Great tit 26, Robin 18, Black-headed gull 17 [7 in my garden!], Collared dove 18, Starling 16, Dunnock 14, Coal tit 11.
It will be interesting to compare our small sample with that of the national figures when they are announced.
The Pink-footed geese were still around on 7 February. Jane and I were in the vicinity of Rimac looking at Wigeon, Curlew and Roe deer in a meadow just prior to dusk when we saw skein of about 200 Pink-footed geese moving from inland to the coast.
Our hedgehogs did not appear during the snow; we presumed that they had hibernated. But on 6 February two appeared and we have had sightings ever since. When they both appear at the same time there is interaction between them. Scuffling, sniffing and grunting indicates that they are of different sexes.
Best wishes
Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area Group   01507 606880

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Big Garden Bird Watch

Several people from the Louth area who joined this year's Big Garden Bird Watch sent us their records. The data are available to download on this spreadsheet

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Report on Louth Watch Meeting at Spout Yard 20th January 2019

The meeting began with a quiz for the  children.  They identified twenty pictures of British birds which had been arranged on the walls. The answers were discussed and the children did  very well. We talked about which birds you might see in your garden and which birds are most common in the UK. Also we talked about the Big British Birdwatch which would be the following weekend.

Everybody then walked around Spout Yard Park together and managed to spot several different birds in the area.

The digital microscope and optical microscope were set up so that  children were able to view various bird feathers and a bird skull.

Each child was able to chose to play a bird game, either bird bingo or snap with a set of bird cards. They  all enjoyed the games. They then could chose to colour a bird picture.

The children each had a biscuit and a drink of fruit juice which had been donated by Louth

They finally were able to get very messy whilst making bird feeders. String was tied to each pine cone and a loop made so that it  could be hung up. They then mixed soft lard, muesli, cheese etc and covered the pine cones with the mixture. They also filled half coconut shells with it.

The children took bird feeders home to hang in their gardens. They also hung some of the bird feeders on trees in Spout Yard Park.

It was a very busy afternoon which everybody seemed to enjoy.