Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Report on Louth Watch Meeting 19-1-20

Louth Watch group met at Spout Yard Park to find out more about compost.

As children arrived they were able to chose to fill in a word search, colouring or crossword.
We started the meeting asking if the children had seen any interesting wildlife and reminded them about the Big Garden Birdwatch.

We then moved outside into the park area where James Pocklington told us about the value of compost and demonstrated how to make a Rotbot. He used a 2 litre plastic bottle with the top cut off and a few drainage holes in the bottom. He showed us how to build up layers of shredded paper, vegetable pieces, small twigs and fruit scraps in the bottle. After a few weeks seeds could be planted on the resulting compost.

Before going inside we located and examined the Spout Yard compost bins. Indoors the children enjoyed exploring the piles of compost that James had brought in, from different sources. They searched for minibeasts and examined and identified them under digital microscopes, other microscopes and magnifiers. They were excited to find worms, woodlice, centipedes, beetle larvae, ants and snails.

The children then made and took home some very good plasticine models of the minibeasts they had found. They were also given a rotbot bottle to fill at home and some seeds to sow in the resulting compost.

Overall it was a very enjoyable and educational afternoon.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020


A ‘Happy New Year’ to you all and a Happy 50th Birthday to the Louth Group.
Our first meeting of 2020 will be given by the dynamic Tammy Smalley, Head of LWT Conservation. Her topic will be ‘The Sea and Me’ at 7.30pm on Friday 31 January at the Nichol Hill Methodist Church, Louth. Entry, including refreshments is £2.50; children have free entry
I wonder whether we shall have any cold weather to balance out the wet months of late 2019. We already have Primroses and Snowdrops in the garden whilst at least one hedgehog turns up very night for its Spike and sultanas. We have also seen the return of the Common gull with a deformed leg for the third year in succession.
The Pink-footed geese and Brent geese are still providing dawn and dusk flockings on the coast but nearly all the seals have left Donna Nook. There were 2,186 pups born this year which is an increase of 5.4% on 2019. Not all these creatures survive; it is estimated that 20% of pups do not live for longer than a year.
The busiest and possibly smelliest day at Donna Nook was 6 December when there were 466 bulls, 997 cows and 2135 pups to be seen. The seals have a very busy time whilst they are on the marshes. The cows give birth and suckle the pups who grow rapidly and turn from cream to grey before heading out to sea. The huge bulls roar and fight for the attention of the cows who are often still suckling their pups. They mate – quite a spectacle – they have no modesty and some visitors claim to be offended by this behaviour within a few feet of the boundary fence.
They soon start to leave, so the beach is virtually empty by late December when the seals return to the sea and start to feed again and when the stoical volunteer seal wardens and LWT staff have time for a rest.
Please remember to take part in the RSPB Great Garden Birdwatch scheduled for 25 and 26 January. Report forms will be in the national press as well as being on the RSPB website.
Best wishes
Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area Group, LWT

Wednesday, 20 November 2019



The speaker at our meeting at 0730pm on Friday 29 November at the Nichol Hill Methodist Church, Louth will be Helen Gamble who will be talking about ‘The Lincolnshire Wolds - its wildlife, landscapes and geology.
The meeting is open to all with an entrance fee of £2.50; children are welcome and are not charged.
Helen is the Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service Project Officer who provides advice and, where appropriate, helps to deliver grant aid to farmers, landowners and community groups on works to implement landscape, wildlife and access improvements within the Wolds and is the contact for Sustainable Development Funds and Small Grants Scheme.
The seals are back in force at Donna Nook. The most recent count, reported last Saturday, showed that there were 362 Bulls, 1254 Cows and 872 pups. These figures will continue to increase.
The volunteers who direct and inform the visitors have had a cold and wet time so far. They do a great job and see some fascinating sights including that of a Pomarine skua feeding on the seal placentas. If you intend to visit, try to go on weekdays when there are fewer visitors.
The paths to the North of the main car park at Donna Nook are always worth a visit. You will see ducks, geese and waders flying and settling on the lagoons and if you walk quietly you may see Roe deer moving through the dunes. 
Best wishes

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Galapagos viewed from Louth

Our 2019-20 season of talks began on Friday 25th October with an account of a trip to South America by Roger Briggs. After a quick look at Peru and the Inca Trail, we learnt much about the Galapagos Islands, their geography and wildlife, with numerous photos and some videos of the unique fauna and flora of this extraordinary archipelago.

For further reading, there's a good introduction to the islands on Wikipedia and the best introduction to the wildlife is to be found at the Galapagos Conservation Trust website

Of course the most fascinating account is that written by Charles Darwin in his The Voyage of the Beagle.  Here is  CHAPTER XVII — GALAPAGOS ARCHIPELAGO

Finches, drawn by Charles Darwin

Next month's meeting is the Nancy Loft Memorial Lecture. On Friday 29th November Helen Gamble of the Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service will talk to us about some hills a good deal closer to home than the Galapagos Islands.

Next year we celebrate 50 years of the Louth Area Group of the Wildlife Trust. Would you like to share a memorable wildlife related experience form the last half century?

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Report on Louth Watch Meeting 20-10-19

As the children arrived they were able to chose owl-centred colouring, word search or anagram.

Each child was then given a dissecting tray and an owl pellet, supplied by Roger Briggs.
Mary demonstrated how to tease the pellets apart with forceps and mounted points.
The children enjoyed pulling the pellets apart to discover the bones of small animals that had been
eaten and then regurgitated by the owl. They laid the bones they found carefully in the tray. They used a magnifier to examine the skulls and jaw bones they had separated out. They tried to identify the animal eaten by the owl by consulting a printed guide.

By using the digital microscope they were also able to look more closely at the skulls and bones. They were able to see the jaw and teeth which helped the identification of mainly shrews and voles.
Surprisingly several of the pellets contained the skull of more than one animal.

The children found the dissection really fascinating. They finished the afternoon by colouring an owl picture and attaching autumn coloured 'leaf feathers' to the owl's body. The results were very effective.

Eight children attended.

It was Mary Porter's last visit to a Watch group before her retirement as Administrator.
Thank you Mary.

Monday, 14 October 2019


Autumn has arrived; a wet Sunday, leaves to be swept and the spectacle of 83 Pink foot geese flying over the house early this morning.
Our remaining events for 2019 are the two speaker meetings in October and in November. You will be aware that the Information Coffee Morning scheduled for 9 November has been cancelled.
However, there will be LWT Christmas cards for sale at our Friday 25 October meeting from 7.00pm at the Nichol Hill Methodist Church, Louth. The entry fee, including refreshments, for members and for non-members stays at £2.50.
On this occasion the meeting will have a South American twist. We shall hear from two speakers, Roger Briggs and George Butler, who will tell us about their experiences in Peru and the Galapagos islands.
I look forward to seeing you.
Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area Group

Tuesday, 1 October 2019


It was pouring with rain at 0950hrs and a thunderstorm was forecast. Brian Oxborrow, the VRM, Judith and I agreed to cancel the event. A member of the Brigg group drove up, he concurred with our decision and left.
At 1001hrs LAG committee members and Watch leaders arrived and made the rain ease and then stop! So, we had another discussion and the walk, albeit very soggy underfoot was on. Brian took us around the site for the next two hours and described the ways in which rough pasture and scrub had been turned into heathland, woodland and grassland over the last few decades.
The rain held off and we all spotted many species of fungus, often in clumps by the path. The most notable was a huge red Fly agaric by the entrance. Bill Lee has kindly provided below a list of the species that we encountered.
‘We saw over a dozen different fungi a few I could identify with some certainty, some tentatively and some still elude me.
Types with sponge instead of gills, Suillus species including Slippery Jack and possibly Jersey Cow Boletus, also another Boletus species which I couldn't identify. Puff ball types, Common Puffball and Common Earthball.  Quite a few gill fungi including Destroying Angel, Amanita virosa, Fly Agaric ,Amanita muscari, Amethyst Deceiver, Laccaria amathystea, Shaggy Ink Cap, Coprinus comatus, various Russulas including R.aeruginer(greencap), R.atropurorea (red cap ), and R. lepida(red cap).There were also bracket fungi on the birch and Coriolus (Tremelas) versicolor.’
It was a most interesting event and I should like to apologise to the member from Brigg who missed the walk.
Ray Woodcock