Thursday, 14 February 2019

LAG CHAIRMAN’S JOTTINGS FEBRUARY 2019

 
SPEAKER MEETING
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. 
 
VOLUNTEERS REQUIRED
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 lag2014rww@aol.com to find out what is involved.
 
GREAT GARDEN BIRD WATCH
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.
 
SIGHTINGS
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
lag2014rww@aol.com   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
 Co-op.

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.


Friday, 18 January 2019

CHAIRMAN’S JOTTINGS JANUARY 2019

Good day and a belated Happy New Year,
Our first Speaker Meeting of 2019 will be given by Geoff Lea on the History and Wildlife Areas of the Norfolk Broads. The meeting on Friday 25 January will commence 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.
I am particularly looking forward to this talk. I spent the first 25 years of my life in Hunstanton on the edge of the Wash but rarely visited the ‘other side’ of the county’.
 
The last seals have left the foreshore at Donna Nook although some can still be seen lingering on the off-shore sandbanks. There has been a record number of pups born; 2066 had been recorded by 21 December. Geoff Mullett made a video of a seal giving birth which may be viewed on You Tube:

 
The great event for me at this time of year is the Great Garden Bird Watch on 26-28 January. Please take part and let me have a copy of your results and post code on lag2014@aol.com. I can then ascertain the number of species that have been seen LAG area.
I enjoy looking at and recording the birds in our garden for this national task and hope that there will be as many species as we had at various times on 15 January; 27 sparrows, 4 Blackbirds, 2 Collared doves, 3 Wood pigeons, 2 Coal tits, 2 Great tits a Blue tit, a Wren and a Robin. A few scraps of meat on the lawn attracted 2 Common gulls, 7 Black-headed gulls and for the first time a huge Herring gull. It is interesting to note that one of the Common gulls has been a regular visitor for the last 3 years. It has a badly deformed left foot but looks in good health and is usually the first gull to hit the food.
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50 YEARS OF LAG – LONG TERM PLANNING
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

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

LWT LOUTH AREA GROUP CHAIRMAN’S JOTTINGS NOVEMBER 2018

SPEAKER MEETING 23 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.

DONNA NOOK SEAL UPDATE AND VISITING CONDITIONS

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

50 YEARS OF LAG – LONG TERM PLANNING
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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