Friday, 16 February 2018


Firstly, many thanks to those of you who have wished me well with my complete knee replacement. The operation was a success and I intend to be at the LAG February meeting. The treatment that I received at Fotherby Ward, Louth was excellent.

To date I have had 13 responses to my much-publicised request for a copy of your observations. It is not too late to let me know – just do it today and let me have your list. 12 of the observations took place in Louth with one in North Somercotes.
Between us we saw 37 Blackbirds,19 Blue tits, 14 Chaffinches, 6 Coal tits, 15 Collared doves, 27 Goldfinches, 16 Dunnocks, 17 Great tits, 27 Goldfinches, 92 House sparrows, 5 Greenfinches, 5 Long-tailed tits, 3 Magpies, 48 Starlings, 29 Wood pigeons, 6 Wrens, 12 Black-headed gulls, 3 Common gulls, 2 Pheasants, 4 Curlews, 2 Jackdaws, 2 Bullfinches and a Green woodpecker.
So, it appears that Blackbirds and House sparrows particularly enjoy visiting our gardens. Already I am aware that both Blackbirds and Robins are singing strongly at dawn and dusk to establish their territories.

Biff Vernon brought the books to the last LAG meeting where sales amounted to £83. Remaining copies will be on offer again at our February and March meetings. The books cover a wide range of topics and you may like to have a memento of Joyce who was a very active and long serving member of our Group.


There will be a need for raffle prizes at the Annual General Meeting. Please bring suitable items other than alcohol to the February and March meetings.

Do go out and about. This is one of the best times of the year for dawn and dusk birdwatching – you don’t have to get up too early or stay out too late!

Best wishes

Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area Group LWT

Friday, 9 February 2018

Lincolnshire Plants - Past and Future

A talk by Aiden Neary, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Wildflower Meadow Project Officer, Friday 23rd January 2018.

Aiden's talk looked at the history of botanical recording in Lincolnshire, the creation of a historic herbarium and its recent conservation, and the project to create a new herbarium and flora for the county, with the attendant needs for training a new generation of botanists.

We were introduced to the Reverend Edward Adrian Woodruffe-Peacock, (1858-1922) Vicar of Cadney, botanist. His "The natural history of Lincolnshire; being the natural history section of Lincolnshire notes & queries, from January, 1896, to October, 1897" is a fascinating glimpse into the understanding of Lincolnshire's natural history in the late 19th century. It is available to view here.

The other key figure in the history of recording Lincolnshire's wild plants was Joan Gibbons (1902-1988), hers being "The Flora of Lincolnshire" 1975. Her remarkable life is recorded in the BSBI obituary.

We learnt a little about Joseph Burtt Davey, who, aged 20, walked from Alford to Horncastle and on to Dogdyke, making careful notes of his observations.

Liberty Gray, at Lincoln University, is researching UV patterning of the herbarium specimens, in this case a Field Scabious.

Much of Aiden's talk focussed on the work of the Joseph Banks Society, which held the historic herbarium, now transferred to the Natural History Museum and the work to create a new herbarium that will be held jointly at the NHM in London and in Horncastle. There is a small matter of collecting some 4500 plant specimens and conserving them for a permanent collection. To this end a team of volunteers are being mustered and young botanists are being trained to carry the work forward. The Love Lincolnshire Plants project has been granted significant Lottery funding to carry out the work. The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is playing a central role in this new 'plant archive for the next generation', the other major partner being the Lincolnshire Naturalists' Union. Keep up to date with day to day progress by following #LovelLncsPlants on twitter.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Report on Louth Watch Meeting at Spout Yard Gallery

Sunday 21st January 2018

On a wet, sleety day, six children and their accompanying adults joined in the session to prepare for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

Whilst everyone congregated, the children completed a sheet which incorporated such questions as:
What birds do you know visit your garden?
Which bird would you most like to see in your garden?
How might birds be encouraged into the garden?

We then talked about the details of the Birdwatch and all the children were provided with a RSPB recording sheet.

They then all created a poster to display in a prominent place, to try and encourage people to join in with the Birdwatch. They included the relevant details and tried to make an eye-catching design.

Once these were complete the children made their own ‘Bird Bingo’ cards, showing nine birds of their choice from the recording sheet. They could write, draw or cut out pictures of the birds they had chosen. We then had two games of Bingo, with Colin providing a clue to each bird drawn so that the children learnt some bird facts whilst enjoying the game. One child won the first game and the second was an amazing draw between the remaining children, so they were all able to choose a sheet of stickers as a prize!

To finish there was a choice of three activities and all the children managed to complete as many of these as they wished. The activities were:

A bird feeder ‘kebab’, threading food items onto a wire kebab, which was then twisted into a hanging circular feeder.
A half coconut shell feeder, which was filled with a mixture of fat, oats and various items to tempt the birds.
A bird i-dial identifier to help with bird ID during the Big Garden Birdwatch.

All the children were encouraged to bring and share their Birdwatch results at the next meeting.

Friday, 19 January 2018


Good morning and a Happy New Year,

This year has been a record year for seal pups at Donna Nook with 2,033 births recorded. However, it is unlikely that all those who reach the sea will survive as it is reckoned that there is a 20% mortality rate in their first year of life. The LWT staff and their hardy band of volunteers have done a brilliant job again of managing the seals as well as the many thousands of visitors who come to Donna Nook marsh and dunes at this time of the year.
You may not be aware that despite several collecting boxes on the site the average contribution per visitor is only a few pence. Your committee has written to the LWT CEO to suggest ways of raising the awareness of the costs of the venue as well as making the collecting boxes more obvious.
I shall report the response at our Annual General Meeting in April when the format will change from that of the last 5 years. In response to comments from members we shall have a short AGM followed by a speaker concluding with a raffle and refreshments. There is no charge for this meeting. Costs are covered by the purchase of raffle tickets with any surplus amount going to the LWT.

During the last few months Louth members have been busy clearing scrub and undergrowth at Muckton Wood, Rigsby Woods and Hoplands Wood whilst the Watch group has held meetings at Spout Yard. You are most welcome to join the woodland work parties which are listed in the Winter Newsletter. The next one is at Hoplands Wood on Sunday 28 January.

The first of the 2018 series of illustrated talks in Louth will be, ‘Lincolnshire Plants - Past and Future’, given by Aiden Neary, the LWT Wildflower Meadow Project Officer. Everyone is welcome at 7.30pm on Friday 26 January at the Nichol Hill Methodist Church, Louth. Entrance is £2.50 which includes refreshments; children are not charged
On 27, 28 and 29 January don’t forget to join the Great Garden Birdwatch and be part of the world’s largest wildlife survey. If you are not a member of the RSPB, you will find details about how to take part in the press a few days before the event.

Chris Robinson, the son of the late David Robinson OBE has presented the Group with approximately 200 botanical and gardening books from his late mother Joyce's bookshelf. He has given us carte blanche as to their disposal. Biff Vernon kindly offered to manage the activity and it has been decided to offer them for sale at LAG and Ants & Nats meetings with the funds going to each of the organisations. The books cover a wide range of topics and you may like to have a memento of Joyce who was a very active and long serving member of our Group.

A volunteer is required to deliver a small number of the Lapwings magazine in the Brackenborough area. If you are able to assist, please contact Louise Scott on 01507601685 or by email at

Best wishes
Ray Woodcock, Chairman Louth Area Group

Friday, 1 December 2017

Poles Apart

Dr. Michael Leach gave the first ‘The Nancy Loft Memorial Lecture’ on Friday 24th November 2018.

Nancy had been a long serving member of the Louth Group and kindly made a bequest to the Trust in her Will. To honour Nancy’s contribution to the Group over the years the committee has decided, with her husband John’s permission, to have a special speaker meeting in the November of each year.

There can have been few in the audience who have not seen photos and film taken by Michael, a zoologist whose professional career as a photographer has taken him to most environments around the globe. He has written a couple of dozen books and his pictures have featured in countless newspaper and magazine articles, his films seen on several television programmes.

Michael pointed out that of the nine million and counting non-microbial species only about fifty of them are interesting and popular enough to be commercially viable for the photographer. One can't sell pictures of the rest!  He skipped quickly over his experiences in the tropics, where he has photographed all the big cuddly or dangerous creatures and seen too many leeches and caught too many diseases previously unknown to science. Michael prefers the Poles, where it is too cold for the nasties.

Much of the talk contrasted the Arctic with the Antarctic. The geography is quite different, much of the Arctic being ocean surrounded by land while the Antarctic is land surrounded by ocean. Antarctica is remote, very hard to get to, nobody lives there permanently, and biodiversity is pretty meagre. Only a couple, Emperor and Adelie,  of the 20 species of penguin actually breed on the Antarctic mainland. A lot of people and a great diversity of animals, however, live north of the Arctic Circle. It is very easy to get to; one can drive a car from England to the Arctic and Michael told us that the first thing one encounters after crossing the Arctic Circle (a line painted on the road) is a speed camera and then a Spar shop.

Human impact on wildlife was a recurring theme of Michael's talk. Reindeer, known as Caribou in North America, have long been at least semi-domesticated in Europe and Russia and only small populations of truly wild animals remain. But the big impact is human caused climate change. The ever shrinking sea-ice is an existential problem for polar bears, which rely on the ice to force seals to come up to breathe in restricted spaces. Arctic foxes and ptarmigan change colour to camouflage themselves in the snow, but the timing of the change relates to day-length. As the snow season shortens a timing issue arises, leaving the animals with the wrong coloured coat.

And in the Antarctic waters overfishing of krill has the potential for devastating impacts on ecosystems. Human demand for ever more meat and farmed fish eating has produced a large market for krill as an animal feed. Management falls to CCAMLR, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

Dr Michael Leach's talk was entertaining, informative and inspiring, a worthy beginning to what we hope will be a long series of Nancy Loft Memorial Lectures.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017


The next meeting of the Louth Area Group will be at 1930hrs on Friday 24 November 2017 in the Methodist Church, Nichol Hill, Louth when Michael Leach, the world-renowned wildlife photographer will enthral us with his presentation entitled, ‘Poles Apart’. Entrance is £2.50 which includes refreshments. There is no charge for children who are most welcome.

This meeting will be special as it will be the first of the annual Nancy Loft Memorial Lectures. Nancy had been a long serving member of the Louth Group and kindly made a bequest to the Trust in her Will. To honour Nancy’s contribution to the Group over the years the committee has decided, with her husband John’s permission, to have a special speaker meeting in the November of each year entitled. ‘The Nancy Loft Memorial Lecture’.

Many thanks to all of you who helped make last Saturday’s event a success. Even though there were fewer visitors than in previous years they contributed to a most convivial buzz. The raffle did well, and we sold £270 worth of LWT goods.
I noticed a lot of people having a go at the butterfly quiz; I am not sure if anyone completed it! The Watch group had prepared hands-on activities and one of my memories of the event will be that of three little girls proudly showing me the butterfly masks that they had made.

The saga continues with four individuals being identified, including Uncle Two Spot. This month Jane had a ‘Night Trail Camera’ as a birthday present. This machine sits outside and takes photographs when activated by movement. It has been fascinating to realise that the prickly family is on the go during all the dark hours and that they do not seem to be perturbed by the occasional cat. However, the most unexpected and exciting visitor was a Tawny owl pictured drinking from the bird bath at 0317hrs last Tuesday morning.

With very best wishes for the forthcoming festive season,
Ray Woodcock Chairman LAG

Friday, 3 November 2017

Information and Coffee Morning - 11th November

The next Louth Area Group event will be the annual ‘Information Coffee Morning’ at the ConocoPhillips Room between 1000hrs and noon on Saturday 11 November 2017
This year’s theme is ‘Moths, Butterflies and Insects’. The Wildlife Watch members will provide an activity for children.
All ages are welcome to have the chance meet LAG members whilst enjoying a cup of coffee and buying LWT Christmas cards, calendars, note pads and stocking fillers. There will be a raffle. Admission will be £1.50 whilst children are admitted without charge.
We shall observe the two minutes silence at 1100hrs.