Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Watch Group dates

Thursday July 27th 
Come and hunt for mini-beasts with Louth Watch at Spout Yard Park, Louth from 2.00 pm
This event is part of the Spout Yard "Beach Party" which is running from July 22nd to 30th.
The event is free. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Friday 18th August
Join in the Free Family Fun Day 11.00 to 15.00 at Rimac Eco-Classroom, Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes LN11 7TS.
Pond dipping, Sweep Nets and Wild Crafts.
Organised by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

FROM THE LOUTH MUSEUM BLOG OBSERVATIONS 1885


The “Ants and Nats”, the organisation responsible for Louth Museum is one of the oldest learned societies in Lincolnshire.  It started in 1884 when a group of teenage boys interested in Natural History began to meet each week to discuss their findings.  Recently we have come across an original document dated 1885 that lists some of their “Zoological Observations”, including
Jan 17th.  Two otters seen near the pond at Tathwell.
Feb 11th.  Cart load of sprats being drawn through the town to be used as manure.
Feb 24th.  Two white stoats are now being shown in the bird-stuffer’s window.  Three have been caught this winter.
Apr 3rd.  On vermin tree in Burwell Wood were 26 weasels and 3 stoats.
Aug 4th.  Natterjack toad seen on the sand hills at Mablethorpe.  Easily distinguished from the common toad, which is also present on the sand hills, by the white dorsal line.
Aug 21st.  School of porpoises seen off Mablethorpe.

Ruth

Sunday, 25 June 2017

LAG VISIT TO LWT MESSINGHAM SAND QUARRIES 24 JUNE 2017


Only six of us turned up at the site south of Scunthorpe today where we were welcomed by Eddie Gaunt and two other insect and plant specialists. We spent almost three hours moving slowly through scrub, woodland paths, heathland and marsh margins.
A close up of a green plant

Description generated with very high confidenceRinglet, Comma and Red Admiral butterflies were easy to spot, so were the familiar small Common blue damselflies. However, nearly very plant had an interesting insect lurking on it or under it which enabled the specialists to point out Micro-moths, Soldier flies, Scorpion flies and White-tailed bumblebees. We must train our eyes to notice these species when we visit other reserves even if it just to notice the Pollen beetles on the yellow Cat’s ear flowers.
The Spear thistles were in full flower and the willow herbs were coming into bloom. Marsh orchids joined Greater bird’s foot trefoil to add colour to the grassy areas. The dense thickets of Phragmites rush and Hemp agrimony screened the water’s edge which in place was infested with the succulent leaves of Bogbean. I had not seen the yellow carnivorous Bladderwort before and here was a pond covered with it. Chris Packham would have had an underwater camera showing how the plant traps and ingests passing water fleas!
We saw birds – rafts of Tufted ducks and Coots, some elegant Great crested grebes a pair of Common terns with 3 fluffy chicks and a lone Pochard and we were treated to a fly past of 3 Egyptian geese. Young Cormorants were hanging out their wings to dry whilst Sedge warblers warbled in the reeds.
Towards the end of our stroll through the reserve Specialist John was asked about the presence of fungi. This was his cue to disappear into patch of woodland and to emerge clutching a football sized Puff ball fungus.
It was a fascinating visit – so different from our Wolds and coastal areas. I think we should find a date next summer when more people are able to be enthralled by the insects and flowers of these worked out quarries. RW

I have attached some more of Jane’s excellent pictures as well as adding a photograph kindly send to me by Geoff Mullett entitled, ‘the Brood of 2017’



Sunday, 18 June 2017

CHAIRMAN’S JOTTINGS JUNE 2017



Some time ago Aidan Neary, the LWT Wildflower Meadow Project Officer, ask me whether LAG members would be able to assist with the National Plant Monitoring Scheme on farmland near Stenigot. After a recce in depth last August the committee members thought that we could carry out the task but given various constraints we would need to have a dozen people working together on the same day. I am pleased to report that 25 members showed an interest and 13 of us carried out the complicated task on the sunny morning of 31 May.
Now is orchid time; we all love the beautiful Bee orchids. However, watch out for the delicate pale pink Common spotted orchids that grow amongst the pollen laden grasses. Or take a walk down the path at Gibraltar Point from the first (not main) car park to view orchids in profusion. There are also Spoonbills, baby Avocets and fluffy gull chicks to be seen from the hides.

OUT NEXT FIELD TRIP will be a flower and insect visit on Saturday 24 June to LWT Messingham Sand Quarry. This will be an easy walk through woodland paths and by the edges of ponds led by Eddie Gaunt and his team of knowledgeable volunteers. Meet at 1100hrs at the car park which is east of the B1400 Messingham-Kirton road opposite Scallow Grove Farm, Messingham, Scunthorpe. Map reference SE 908032. There are no loos on site but it is a splendid picnic area.
Ray Woodcock Chairman LAG
 

Monday, 22 May 2017

Report on Meeting at Rimac 14th May 2017

We had a joint meeting with the Rimac Watch Group at Rimac Reserve.

We walked to the pond carrying nets, ID, sheets, containers etc. The children stood on the deck and used the nets to catch pond dwellers. The contents of the nets were transferred to the water in the four containers that Roger had already filled. We could then see what had been caught. There were lots of tadpoles. There were also some small fish and the nymphs of dragonflies and damselflies. We were able to look at them more closely using magnifying
glasses.

The children really enjoyed dipping their nets in the pond and then seeing what
they had caught. When they had finished, they were given cards and told to find different items around the reserve.

Twenty children attended the joint meeting.
Avril.

LAG FIELD TRIP FAR INGS 21 MAY 2017



It was a pleasure to welcome new members to the group on this bright, sunny day. The ‘aaah factor’ was present in the car park – seven fluffy Canada goose goslings.  19 of us made a slow progression along the river bank and back through the woodland paths to have our picnic lunch in the double-decker hide amongst the reeds at Ness End.
It was a morning of quick sightings and calls – we saw Reed buntings, we heard a Cetti’s warbler, we caught glimpses of a Sedge warbler and had a good look at a tiny Willow warbler as it perched on a wire. An Oystercatcher flew over but we tended to ignore our beautifully marked Mallards and our elegant Black-headed gulls.
The wild flowers were beginning to bloom and as often at this time of year we tried to recall the names of the less common plants; not always easy, even with a guide book. The butterflies were easier to identify. Orange tips, Peacock, Green-veined whites and Small whites flitted around in the company of yellow Brimstones. There were a few dragonflies over the reeds whilst the Common blue damsel flies emerged from the ground cover as the air became warmer.
Our lunch stop location provided a steady trickle of different birds. The graceful Great crested grebes were the most numerous – four at one time. However, Shelduck came and went, a Common tern flew overhead and a couple of Blue tits were very busy feeding a family in a nearby bush. Inevitably the highlight of the day happened when most people had left the hide to return to their cars. We were given a wonderful flying display – about 10 metres away- by a Marsh harrier as it quartered the reed beds in search of prey.
Thank you, Judith for the excellent photographs. There are many more on our Facebook site. RW

BIRD LIST: Little grebe, Great crested grebe, Cormorant, Grey heron, Mute swan, Greylag goose, Canada goose, Shelduck, Mallard, Pochard, Tufted duck, Marsh harrier, Kestrel, Coot, Oystercatcher, Black-headed gull, Wood pigeon, Pied wagtail, Dunnock, Swift, Swallow, Blackbird, Sedge warbler, Willow warbler, Blue tit, Magpie, Carrion crow, Goldfinch, Reed bunting. 29

HEARD: Cuckoo, Cetti’s warbler, Reed warbler, Chiffchaff, Yellowhammer. 5

SEEN BUT NOT BELIEVED

Kingfisher, Bearded tit. 2

Thursday, 18 May 2017

LAG CHAIRMAN’S JOTTINGS MAY 2017


AGM: Our Annual General Meeting on 28 April was livened up by a display of photographs from Chairman Ray, Watch Group Leader Avril and six other members. A raffle raised funds for the LWT whilst 48 members enjoyed cakes and biscuits at the end of the evening. Many thanks to those of you who supplied the photographs, the raffle prizes and the refreshments as well as those who attended the meeting.
The committee members elected for the next 12 months are, Ray Woodcock Chairman, Biff Vernon, Secretary and Rod Baddon Treasurer with Avril Huke Watch Leader, Colin Byatt LWT Council Representative and Site liaison, Louise Scott Lapwings Distribution, Judith John Programme Secretary and Andy Goy.

SUNDAY 21 MAY 2017 Visit to LWT Far Ings Reserve on Humber Bank led by Reserve Warden Simon Wellock. We shall walk along paths through wild flower areas and along the river bank looking for birds and insects. There has been an extensive reed clearance programme the during winter months: you may see or hear a Bittern! Meet at the Main Visitors’ Centre at 1100hrs. There are loos on site but no refreshment facilities. However, there are plenty of seating spots for a picnic. If you have not been before the post code is DN18 5RG.

OUT AND ABOUT
Since the beginning of May, Jane and I have been photographing wild flowers in some of the local LWT woodland sites. Rigsby Wood has Red campion, Dog’s Mercury and patches of Sweet Woodruff together with so many other delicately coloured spring flowers.  Mill Hill Quarry and Hopland’s Wood are also coming into bloom. They are not far away and are worthy of a visit at this time of the year as well as being sheltered from the cold winds that are hitting the coast.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Watch Meetings



Report on Watch Meeting at Hubbard's Hills April 23rd 2017

A trail of 20 clues for a Nature Treasure Hunt were laid through Hubbard's Hills before the meeting.
The children and adults were given written directions to help find the clues and a question to answer when finding each clue.
It was a nice sunny afternoon.  Several children took part and were rewarded with some "Treasure" (glittery stickers or an animal eraser pencil) when they had completed the challenge.

Louise had worked out and produced the clues to make a very popular Treasure Hunt.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

CHAIRMAN’S JOTTINGS 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.

SPRING WILDLIFE
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

CHAIRMAN’S JOTTINGS MARCH


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 lag2014rww@aol.com
·         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.

2017 PROGRAMME
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.

WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN?
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

AN INTRODUCTION TO MOTHS


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

LOUTH AREA GROUP LWT
CHAIRMAN’S JOTTINGS FEBRUARY

FEBRUARY ILLUSTRATED TALK
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.

BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH THANK-YOU
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.

2017 PROGRAMME
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 lag2014rww@aol.com

LAG COMMITTEE
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