Wednesday, 19 April 2017


Good day fellow members,

Our last indoor meeting for this half of the year will be on Friday 28 April 2017 at the Methodist Church Hall, Nichol Hill, Louth. It will be an evening of Members’ photographs and the Annual General Meeting with a raffle and refreshments. I am delighted to report that we have sufficient raffle prizes and cakes. However, we still have vacancies for a couple of committee members! There is no admittance charge on this occasion – so please buy a load of raffle tickets.
If you want to raise points during the Members’ Input session or send apologies please let me know by 22 April 2107.

Jane and I saw our first Swallows of the year at Hagnaby on Good Friday together with a group of 13 Whimbrels. I had already heard the first Cuckoo of spring a week earlier. I know that there are peregrines on the spire of St James and I am looking forward to seeing them.
Cuckoo flowers (Lady’s smock) are out at Huttoft Pit, on the corner of Ramsgate Road and in our drive! Early purple orchids have been reported by the roadside at Brackenborough whist bluebells are replacing the primroses and daffodils.
I was interested to read a note from the editor of the Lincolnshire Naturalists Union, Spring brings my annual grouse about cultivated daffodils flowering on the county's road verges.  Lincolnshire's road verges are often natural nature reserves; rich in native animals and plants; worth enjoying and deserving protection. Can people really believe that planting garden daffodil varieties in the wild is a good thing to do? Seemingly many do.’
I must confess that this comment has given me food for thought. I wonder how he feels about the patches of self-seeded oil-seed rape that are gradually encroaching many verges and hedge lines.

Thanks to Judith, Jane, Biff and John C for keeping us inspired and informed with wonderful photographs and articles. Do have a look.
Best wishes
Ray woodcock Chairman LAG

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Grey Seals at Donna Nook

24th March 2017

This month's lecture meeting brought us a talk by Rob Lidstone-Scott, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust's Outer Humber warden about his work with the grey seals, Halichoerus grypus, of Donna Nook National Nature Reserve.

Rob explained how his job was more of a people warden than a seal warden, the seals being a law unto the themselves while the people who come to look at them, around 70000 each pupping season, need to be cared for. Managing the visitors, car parking, ensuring minimum disturbance of the seals and safety of the public, is a formidable task.

We learnt something of the seal's biology and life-cycle and how the North Sea populations have shifted and grown in recent years, with large increases at the southern rookeries of  Donna Nook, Blakeney and Horsey, while the Farne Isle population has stayed more constant. The Scottish populations of the Hebrides and Northern Isles are still much larger.

Satellite tracking of Donna Nook seals show that the Lincolnshire seals range along the coastal waters of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire and the shallow waters of the Norfolk Banks and Dogger Bank, feeding mostly on bottom dwelling fish such as dragonet, short-spined sea-scorpion and sand-eel, cod and flat-fish.

Rob recounted the events surrounding the tidal surge of 5/6th December 2013 when the waters over-topped the chestnut paling fence, washing seal pups and adults into the dunes. Rob and his fellow-wardens had to cut the fencing and do their best to ensure the safety of the pups, the great majority of which survived and were reunited with their mothers.

It is noteworthy that the pup mortality rate, at under 10%, on these southern sandy beach rookeries is much lower than on the rocky sites such as the Farne Islands, where mortality may be 40%. With a female living about 30 years and producing a pup most years there is scope for a steady but large increase in population. Orcas are very rare in the North Sea so the seals are the top predator. Limiting factors on numbers may be disease, pollution (this may be a significant cause of mortality in the Baltic population) and entanglement with fishing gear. Seal culling is a vexed issue, no longer affecting the Lincolnshire and Norfolk populations, but significant in northern, Scandinavian and Canadian populations.

Further reading:

The Wildlife Trusts

LWT Donna Nook

Joint Nature Conservation Committee

Seal Conservation Society

National Trust Blakeney

Friends of Horsey Seals

Berwickshire and Northumberland coast

Scottish Natural Heritage

Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

Monday, 20 March 2017


Friday 24 March 2017 at 7.30 pm at the Nichol Hill Methodist Church
Rob Lidstone-Scott, Outer Humber LWT Warden, will tell us about his experiences of,
‘Seal Management’ in the UK’.
Entry is £2.50 for adults. Children are most welcome and are not charged.

Friday 28 April 2017 ‘A Members’ Evening with photographs and the Annual General Meeting’, with a raffle and refreshments. It was a fun evening in 2016 let’s follow the pattern!
·         Send Ray Woodcock your 5-minute set of your digital photographs by 1 April on
·         To date we have not charged admission for entry to this annual meeting so please support the raffle to cover the meeting’s costs and to raise funds for the LWT.
·          It will be much appreciated if some you will be kind enough to provide a raffle prize or two.
·         There is a rota for volunteers to help with the preparation and serving of refreshments. Please sign up to help at April’s meeting.

September: there are no details for this event at Gibraltar Point on your green membership programme. However, the Spring newsletter that accompanies the recent copy of the LWT Lapwings magazine informs you that we shall be assembling at the main car park at Gibraltar Point at 0800hrs on Saturday 24 September to see the birds that are pushed in by the high spring tide. You will need to pay for parking.

Do let me know.
The spring flowers are in a riotous display of colour. We have two energetic frogs in our tiny pond that have been producing spawn since late February whilst a Small tortoiseshell butterfly was enjoying the sunshine on the hedge on Wednesday morning. We glimpsed the first lambs of the year at Woodhall Spa Airfield on 22 February.
When Jane and I visited Middlemarsh and Gibraltar Point. on 10 March we logged 47 different bird species They included a group of 5 jaunty Snipe and 3 elegant Pin-tailed ducks.

Ray Woodcock Chairman LAG 17 March 2017

Report on the Watch meeting Legbourne Woods March 12th 2017
Luckily the rain had cleared by the afternoon, though the ground was still wet and very muddy in the woods.
The meeting  began with the children weaving wool through twigs to make a loom. They then went into the woods to scavenge dead leaves and plants to weave into a pattern.
After this we walked through the wood to find signs of spring. We found primroses, celandines, catkins, bees, frogs and frog spawn. A bird's nest lined with moss was also found. We heard several birds singing including a chiffchaff.
Later we stuffed stems and leaves etc into the tubes that we had brought with us. The tubes were used, along with more branches, to mend and improve the insect hotel that was built last year.
We walked back to the car park along the old railway line.
There was a good turnout despite the wet and the mud. Overall there was a very friendly and happy atmosphere. AH

Tuesday, 28 February 2017


Lincolnshire County Moth Recorder Colin Smith gave us the benefit of his 45 years of studying and recording moths when he illustrated a range of species on 24 February. There are 2,500 species of moth in the UK with 1,600 of these recorded in Lincolnshire. The adult moth sizes range from the huge Death’s Head at with a wing span of 4 inches down to the myriad of species that are less than 5mm in size.

The caterpillars are voracious feeders and it is possible to identify these larvae by the distinctive patterns that they make on leaves when feeding. These ‘mining’ moths are the ones that damage our plants. Many species of moths live a very short time, just long enough to breed, as they have no mouth parts while others survive well and species have developed a proboscis to probe into nectar producing flowers whilst certain species, such as the Varied Coronet moth which favours Sweet Williams, live their life cycle on a specific type of plant.
I was delighted that other members present said that they saw very few moths. Colin indicated, very politely, that we should be out at night and look harder at our plants by day using a hand lens. Nevertheless, sharp-eyed birds such as Blackbirds and Blue tits have no problem in finding the tiny larva in the grass which form a vital part of the food chain. I offer the information that I gleaned from an RSPB source, that a pair of Blue tits need 15,000 insect larvae to sustain a brood of 4 nestlings.

Colin showed us some of his mounted specimens and has kindly agreed to arrange a ‘Moth Evening’ for us as part of our 2018 programme to look for the Marsh moth which is endemic to the Rimac and Theddlethorpe beach area. RW

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Chairman's Jottings


The Friday 24 February meeting at 7.30pm will be at our new venue, the Methodist Church Hall at Nichol Hill, Louth. The illustrated talk will be ‘An Introduction to Moths’ given by Colin Smith, broadcaster and Lincolnshire County Recorder for Moths.  The cost for entry is £2.50 for adults. Children are most welcome and are not charged.
At this new venue, there are no stairs to climb, wheelchair access is good, so is the audio-visual system, all the chairs are set out and are comfortable and the hire charge is within the LAG budget.
Entry is £2.50 for adults. Children are most welcome and are not charged.

I received 15 reports from some of you who had taken part in the Great Garden Bird Watch at the end of January. Blackbirds and Wood pigeons were the most common with Great tits, House sparrows and Chaffinches appearing in many gardens. I cheated a little and put out scraps of meat on the day so I saw 2 Common gulls and 8 Black-headed gulls in my garden whilst Margot was lucky enough to have 30 Lapwings on her land.
As always not all our regular species arrived at the time of the count – even so we recorded 28 avian visitors to our gardens.

There is a rota for volunteers to help with the preparation and serving of refreshments. Please sign up at the next meeting.

Friday 24 March 2017 Rob Lidstone-Scott Outer Humber LWT Warden will tell us about his experiences of, ‘Seal Management’ in the UK’.

Friday 28 April 2017 A Members’ Evening with photographs and the Annual General Meeting, a raffle and refreshments. It was a fun evening in 2016 let’s follow the pattern! Please make every effort to attend. Send Ray Woodcock your 5-minute set of your digital photographs by 24 March on

There is a present requirement for at least 3 more members to join the committee/team. We meet about five times a year and administer the running of the group. Let Secretary Biff Vernon know if you would like details about joining us on the committee.

Ray Woodcock Chairman LAG 17 February 2017

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Report on Louth Watch Meeting Sunday February 12th 2017

The group had an interesting morning at Spout Yard Gallery dissecting owl pellets. Firstly, the children were given anagram puzzles and owl colouring sheets to fill in. Roger Briggs then provided the pellets and demonstrated how to tease the pellets apart with forceps and mounted points.
Each child dissected an owl pellet and laid the bones they found carefully in the tray. It was possible to see many bones from small mammals such as voles and identify them using the printed guide. One larger skull was possibly from a small rat. Some bones were examined under the microscope.
Roger had found some kestrel pellets and they were also examined, as kestrels regurgitate food in a similar way. Remains of insects were found in the pellets
Overall the children were interested and absorbed in the activity. They took bones and owl pellets home to carry on the investigation, as well as some owl fact sheets.
We were pleased that four children managed to come despite the miserable cold wet weather. AH