Sunday, 13 November 2016

Animal Magic - Friday 11th November at the Conoco Room, Louth.

The last talk in this autumn’s series came from Geoff Trinder. Not quite the average holiday snaps from around the world, Geoff presented some of his remarkable wildlife photography from Borneo to the Galapagos via India, Kenya, Madagascar, Costa Rico and the USA.

He started much closer to home, in his own garden, with a series of photos illustrating the emergence of a Southern Hawker, Aeshna cyanea, from a pond, watched patiently over several hours as the imago escaped its nymphal stage.

We saw pictures of frogs from around the world, flying tree frogs from Borneo, some of the maybe 400 endemic Madagascan species and the remarkable little Strawberry Poison Dart or Blue Jeans frog, Oophaga pumilio, from Costa Rica. Geoff related their curious parental behaviour involving the mother moving its tadpoles to different spots and feeding them with its own infertile eggs. Here's a detailed study of this behaviour: Jennifer L. Stynoski, Behavioral Ecology of Parental Care in a Dendrobatid Frog (Oophaga pumilio) 2012.

A trip to the Galapagos Islands allowed Geoff to photograph both the Land and Marine Iguanas.  The Marine Iguana has a hard time during El Niño years when the increased sea-surface temperature reduces the algae upon which the iguanas feed.  Population crashes have been recorded many times with 70% mortality in some El Niños. A remarkable adaptation is their ability to shrink, reducing their body length when food is in short supply. Here's a description. The future for the iguanas does not bode well if El Niños become more frequent or more severe and average sea surface temperatures rise with global warming. 

The variety of wildlife that Geoff's photos, from England's tiny harvest mouse to lions, tigers, elephants, wildebeest, rattlesnakes, Komodo dragons, pikas, wild dogs, chameleons and much else, illustrated the richness of our planet, but Geoff also warned of its fragility and that our actions will determine whether we are nearing our last chance to see so much.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016


Our last meeting for 2016 will be at the ConocoPhillips Room, Louth on Friday 11 November at 7.30pm when our friend and brilliant wildlife photographer Geoff Trinder returns to tell us about ‘Animal Magic’.  Adults pay £2.50 whilst children are welcome and have free admittance.

Friday, 7 October 2016


Good afternoon,
I have been looking for autumn fruits and berries along the verges where I like to see the plants in their skeletal, seed-bearing form. However, I have been surprised to see hogweed, red campion and yarrow still in flower – or is it a second flowering? I have also noticed the simple spectacle of the cobwebs of the golden coloured garden spiders glistening in the sunshine on dewy mornings.
Brent geese are returning and there are regular sightings of spoonbills at Donna Nook, Gibraltar Point and Frampton Marsh. I wonder if this bird will follow the avocets and egrets as a species that becomes re-established in Great Britain.

Your help is needed:
Raffle prizes are required for the Information Coffee Morning on 29 October. Bring them along to the meeting on 14 October or let me know if you have an item and I can arrange to collect it.
Lapwings distribution: Can you find an hour or so 3 times a year to deliver the envelopes containing the Lapwings magazine in Theddlethorpe? If so, please let me know

October is always a busy time for the Louth Area Group members.
Work Parties begin on Sunday 9 October at 9030 hrs at Rigsby Wood.

Our first autumn indoor meeting will be at the ConocoPhillips Room in Louth at 7.30pm on Friday 14 October when Chris Reynolds, Curator of Botanical Collection at the Forestry Commission, will tell members and non-members about, ‘Global Tree Conservation’.

On Saturday 29 October we have our annual fund raising event in the ConocoPhillips Room at Louth library between 1000 am and noon.            It is an Information Coffee Morning.
Children are requested to bring their parents, grandparents and friends to the event together with examples of autumn fruits and seed heads. They will be able to discover how seeds are dispersed and to talk to local experts about wild flowers, bats, seals and otters. Everyone will have the chance to purchase Trust goods including Christmas cards whilst having a coffee and a chat. Children are not charged but adults have to pay £1.50. 
We are trying very hard to encourage children to take an interest in wildlife as well as giving all of you the opportunity to talk to our local experts. It will be good to see you at some time during those couple of hours.

The next meeting of the Children’s Watch Group is on Sunday 16th October from 2pm in Legbourne Wood. There are many hundreds of species of insects in the average garden.  We are planning to make Bug Hotels to give them some shelter over the winter. 
The event is free but children must be accompanied by an adult.  Waterproof footwear is advised.
For more details get in touch with Avril Huke at p.a.huke

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Watch Group News

In September members of Louth Watch enjoyed the  Great British Beach Clean organised by the Marine Conservation Society at Crook Bank. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. Many pieces of plastic, bottle tops etc. were picked up and a total of 1653 pieces of litter was recorded.

Our next meeting of the Watch Group is on Sunday 16th October from 2pm in Legbourne Wood MR TF 369832
There are many hundreds of species of insects in the average garden.  We are planning to make Bug Hotels to give them some shelter over the winter. 
The event is free and children must be accompanied by an adult.  Waterproof footwear is advised.
For more details get in touch with Avril Huke at p.a.huke

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Work Parties 2016 - 17


Work parties to convene at 0930 on roadside at the reserve gate.

9th October                  Rigsby Wood
23rd October                Rigsby Wood
6th November              Muckton Wood
20th November           Muckton Wood
4th December              Hoplands Wood
18th December Rigsby Wood

8th January                  Rigsby Wood
22nd January               Muckton Wood
5th February                Muckton Wood
19th February               Hoplands Wood
5th March                      Muckton Wood (or Rigsby?)
19th March                   Hoplands Wood (or Rigsby / Muckton

Hoplands Wood VRM           Bob Karley 01507 466121 / 07526 410310
Rigsby Wood VRM               David Sheppard 01507 463187

Muckton Wood VRM             Rick Hill 01507 601123 / 07981 227284

Monday, 19 September 2016


The car park at Snipe Dales was almost full just after lunch on Sunday with families picnicking, children playing and in some cases dogs rushing around. We were aghast to see a big group sitting by a barbecue – albeit contained with a ceramic pot. Do people not read warnings of fire risk or even have any common sense? By the time 2.00 pm arrived 17 LWT members were ready to begin our outing. It was good to see new LAG members and to be joined by ladies from other groups. The sun was shining and the paths were quite dry despite the heavy rain that fell on the previous day.

We were very impressed with the knowledge and the gentle presentation skills of Warden James Forrest as he took us up hill and down dale for the next two and a half hours. We learned about the various decisions that had to made before trees could be felled and species replaced together with how many authorities were involved in the control of the felling, cutting, cropping and grazing that went into the process of making this Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust reserve look 'natural'. As well as the Trust, the Lincolnshire County Council, the Forestry Commission and at least two other august bodies could be involved. Even the height of the grass in the rough pasture land was subject to regulation! Thanks to the support of volunteers and school projects many hours had been spent trying to eradicate the invasive Himalayan balsam, clearing paths and sadly picking up dog mess and litter.

The geology of the steep valley that forms the 220-acre Snipe Dales is fretted by chalk streams which have cut through the soft Spilsby Sandstone to the underlying Kimmeridge Clay to give a complex chemical mix to different areas of the soil. This leads to a wide variety of flora that is recorded and carefully controlled. I was fascinated to see that Apple trees had been planted – to attract the bees and other insects - and that the Lincolnshire custom of planting Cherry trees as boundary markers was being followed.
Grants had been received to enable new fencing and paths to be constructed and for a survey of the fauna of the streams to be carried out. The aquatic animals were stunned by a process of electro-fishing. James was delighted to discover the profusion of Brown trout and Bullheads plus a great number of Mayfly and Caddisfly larvae with a wide range of species of other insects and crustaceans. Water vole were identified together with Otter sprint but there was no evidence of the predatory Mink.
James advised us to visit in April to see the Siskins or to join the LWT Dawn Chorus walk in May whilst some of you may be taking your grandchildren to join the 20,000 school children who have great fun at Snipe Dales during the course of the year. They carry out mini-projects and learn 'bush craft' which involves making dens and lighting fires (under strict LWT supervision) to cook food.

A wonderful outing thanks to the time given by our friendly, erudite Warden James Forrester. He, in turn, was impressed by our fitness, knowledge and appropriate footwear!      RWW

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Wildflower Seed Collection

Good morning,

It was an overcast morning yesterday but 9 of us collected a couple of buckets of cowslip seeds at Red Hill. If the forecast is good we hope to go again on Wednesday 14 Septemberto collect autumn gentian seeds. I will let you know.

Our next Louth Group meeting will be at 2.00 pm on Sunday 18 September at Snipe Dales map ref: TF 319683 where we will walk up and down the steep slopes whist looking at autumn colours on a guided walk led by Warden James Forrester. There is a small charge for parking. Sadly, there is no wheelchair access beyond the car park.

Time creeeps up on us. On 29 October we have the LAG Information Coffee Morning with experts on bats, otters and wild flowers in attendance. There will be a rafflle. However, at the moment I only have one raffle prize. If you have any thing suitable please let me know or bring the item to the September on October meeting.

Best wishes

Ray Woodcock Chairman LAG

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Clean the Beach

Our next Watch meeting is helping the Marine Conservation Society's Great British Beach Clean on the 18th of September 2016.

Friday, 2 September 2016


I have  had a request from Harry Turner who would like some help with seed collecting next Wednesday 7 September 2016 at Red Hill . If you can come along please meet at the main car park at 1000 hrs.
We shall be gathering Cowslip seeds for about an hour or so. Just bring a small poly bag or ice cream container for the seeds. The weather forecast is good and the views are fantastic. A few of us  were in that area yesterday and at one stage we saw  and heard five Buzzards.
If you want more details don't hesitate to contact me.
Ray Woodcock

Chief LAGgard

Louth and Alford Watch Groups visit Red Hill

We are returning to Red Hill Reserve MR TF 264806 for our next  meeting on Sunday 21st August at 2pm.
With the Alford Watch group we are planning to collect seeds.These will eventually be sown in other areas.
Also, through our senses we want to experience what it is like being out in the middle of a summer meadow.
Children must be accompanied by an adult.
It would be nice for families to bring a picnic, to finish the afternoon.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016


It was hot but whilst we may have wilted at times the wildflowers looked fresh and the butterflies and bees were very busy collecting nectar and doing an excellent job of pollination. A dozen of us arrived at the car park where we renewed our acquaintance with Audrey and John Spring. They had given us an excellent presentation about the site last February.

We started our very leisurely stroll in the main garden which is full of tall flowers that are particularly attractive to butterflies and moths. Yellow loosestrife and Hemp agrimony flanked the entrance gate. The garden path led onto beds of Fleabane, Meadow sweet, Thyme, Salvia, Viper’s-bugloss and many others. Golden rod had spread somewhat but the bees were loving it. Two Alder buckthorn trees had been planted; the Brimstone butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves.
We progressed into the adjacent meadow and pushed our way through knee deep grass and flowers. We were straggled out in a long line so we all saw different things. However, we all saw Large white, Ringlet and Large skipper butterflies and a Silver Y moth. Some of us saw, Comma and Peacock butterflies as well.

Back to the car park for another bottle of water and a meander through the cool, shady woods to Stubbs meadow. On the way I was delighted to learn from Avril the name of a wispy but pretty flower at the side of the path. It was Enchanter’s nightshade – you could write a wonderful fairy story with such a title! More flowers in profusion; Scabious, Burnet and Purple loosestrife with Club rush, Hoary plantain and Curly leaved dock on the wetter areas. As we left the meadow we caught a glimpse of White admiral butterflies amongst the leaves of the Lime trees.  Jane and Judith were snapping away and have loaded our Facebook page with wonderful pictures. Do have a look and enjoy this summer weather. Ray W  

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Report on Watch Meeting at Rimac 1tth July 2016

The Louth Watch Group held its third meeting on Sunday 17th July at Rimac Reserve.

We set off from the classroom at Rimac and walked out onto the salt marsh led by Roger. The weather was warm, with a light breeze as we moved away from the land. Part-way across we diverted to what appeared to be an area of smooth sand. Closer investigation showed numerous tracks in the sand.

Each child marked one of the footprints by placing a plastic sleeve over it. They then mixed plaster and water in a cup to a smooth paste and poured it into the sleeve. We left the plaster to set and continued walking across the marsh towards the beach.

On the way we found several clues on the ground, each with a picture of an animal print and its scat. The children were enthusiastic and quickly solved the clues.

On the beach we collected pebbles and shells and each child produced a piece of 'beach art'.

We then returned to the plaster casts. On examination we found that the children had made some really good plaster casts of roe deer and bird tracks. They took them home to allow them to set further and to paint.

Many thanks to Roger, whose effort and expertise, together with the good weather, made it a very enjoyable and productive afternoon.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016


Good afternoon,
You may know that 10 of us worked hard on 2 July to make National Meadows Day a success. There is a full report, with pictures, on the blog at .
Jane and I have just returned from the hide at Elm House Farm. We saw a load of Jackdaws on the path, four Egrets on the scrape whilst Old Nog the Heron flew languidly across the marshes. We spent 20 minutes watching a Short-eared owl quarter the fields on the west side of the hide which was a first sighting for both of us. The owl was skimming the tops of the grasses when it was suddenly rudely disturbed by a huge grey bombshell – Old Nog had turned nasty! The heron almost hovered as it used it its wings and bill for balance as it tried to attack the owl with its feet. The owl was not perturbed. The heron ruffled its wings, looked miserable and flew off towards Rimac.

We noticed that the Spear thistles and Sow thistles as well as some Hawk weeds were coming into flower and were attracting a number of insects. The bees are easy to spot but peer closely and note the diversity of creatures that these flower heads support.

The next LAG field trip is to Chambers Farm Wood to look at butterflies and wild flowers. We meet on site at 2.00 pm when Audrey Spring will be on hand to guide us around. It is flat but the paths may be muddy after rain. The Map Reference is TF 147739. You turn off the A158 onto HOOP LANE just before LANGTON BY WRAGBY

The Wildlife Watch Group meet at Rimac on Sunday 17 July at 2.00 pm. Details are on the blog.

The theme will be, ‘Seeds, fruits and berries’.  You are asked to start collecting now and to be prepared to bring specimens on the day to enable us to be awed by the number of ways in which seeding bodies appear and how they are spread.

Best wishes

Ray Woodcock

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Watch Meeting 17th July

Louth Wildlife Watch is holding its next  meeting on Sunday July 17th at Rimac Nature Reserve (GR TF 467917  Post code LN11 7TS or look for the brown National Nature Reserve sign).
We will be looking at Animal Tracks.
We are planning to make plaster casts of animal footprints in the salt marsh, so wellies will be needed. 
The children may also help to solve a wildlife crime mystery.
The meeting starts at 2pm.
Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016


Aidan Neary, the LWT Wildflower Meadow Project Officer was tasked to conduct three Magnificent Meadows events on the same day and asked whether LAG would take on the organisation of the event at Red Hill. We agreed and formed a working party to manage the day. We had the backing of the LWT staff for Health and Safety matters together with the provision of identification materials and a recruiter. The Magnificent Meadows Project (NMP) team supplied some excellent information/worksheets aimed at children. However, this adult and many others were able to glean a lot of useful information from these handouts. 

An imponderable factor in the planning of the event was the number of visitors expected. The enthusiastic NMP organiser led me to believe that the as the venture was advertised nationwide in various media it would be a popular event. So the LAG work party estimated between 20 and 200! To this end we arranged for 50 car parking spaces and produced handouts for 100 people as well as having enough helpers on the day to cope with up to 50 visitors at any one time. In the end our team of 11, including Volunteer Reserve Manager Harry Turner and the WT Recruiter, nearly matched the 29 local visitors who turned up during the day.

Nevertheless, those visitors who attended were in awe of the location with its wonderful vistas of the Lincolnshire Wolds, the number of species of flowers and butterflies in the meadow together with the warm welcome that they received; some planned to visit Red Hill again. Volunteer Reserve Manager Harry Turner conducted a couple of guided walks across the meadow. The Yellow rattle and the Common spotted orchids, the Marbled white butterflies and a Common lizard were the highlights for the 4 children from the Grimsby and Cleethorpes Watch Group. There are some superb pictures of the walks, flowers and butterflies taken by Judith, Jane and Recruiter Martin on the LAG Facebook page.

For most of the day the weather was sunny although it was exciting to watch the shower clouds form up over Lincoln Cathedral before they swept through the Wolds to pelt down on the magnificent awning where we able to take shelter. Thanks Rick for the means of keeping us dry. 

It was a lot of hard work for a small return and we will need to think very seriously about whether LAG members are able to support such a venture every year. Ray Woodcock

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Muckton Woods and the Watch Group.

A total of 9 children with their parents enjoyed a roam through Muckton Woods on Sunday 19 June & were entertained & informed through a series of woodland activities.  Each child was given an “I Spy” sheet before strolling along the main ride & were encouraged to identify flowers by their colours.
Next came the bark rubbing exercise using crayons & paper followed by leaf drawing.  By use of bark illustrations & a leaf identification “wheel”, the children were able to identify the various woodland trees. We then held a short “quiz” to get the children to tell us what they thought came from trees as well as what could be made from them.
Sticks & sticky tape were provided so that the children could make flags from the paper used for the bark rubbings.  We then gave them tape measures to gauge the circumference of some trees &, by a  simple calculation, could estimate the age of the trees.    
The children seemed to enjoy the pro-active nature of the exercises: giving them something to do all the time with the minimum amount of lecturing.  The parents too were keen to get involved in the exercises which was encouraging.
Although it would have been nicer to see more children (the event clashing with Father’s Day & various other sporting events may or may not have had an impact) we certainly can consider it to have been a success.
The value of good planning, preparation, team-work & individual responsibility was proven here & I believe the whole team deserves a pat on the back for their efforts.
Regards, Colin  

Whale and Dolphin Watching

National Whale and Dolphin Watch Weekend (NWDW)  30th & 31st July

This year National Whale and Dolphin Watch Weekend (NWDW) is on 30th &
31st July.

I am looking for volunteers to help man the watches at Anderby Creek and
Skegness Pier. If you think you can help please let me know. It will be split
into two three-hour shifts per day at each site.

Of course it is also important just to have eyes to the sea, so if you just want
to join us or would like to do a watch elsewhere that would be good too.

Dave Miller
Coast and The Wash Warden

Friday, 17 June 2016


I am delighted to report that Mr David Robinson OBE has been elected President of the LWT. David has been involved with the trust in so many ways since its foundation when he was appointed Secretary. He was also the founder of the Louth Area Group and set up its inaugural meeting on 9 January 1970.
I am sure that all members of the LAG join me in offering David our sincere congratulations on his appointment.
Ray Woodcock Chairman LAG

Sunday, 12 June 2016


A Red kite soared over sixteen LAG members as our host Phil Gibson told us that his great grandfather had bought the farm in 1912 for the sum of £2,300 and the family have run it ever since. Currently The Elms Farm has a mix of arable and cattle with a cash crop of wild flowers. Phil is a man with many agricultural facets. As well as managing the farm he acts as an adviser to other farmers about water management and how to cope with the chemical balances that the crops need whilst adhering to the regulations set down by various authorities.
Our planned two hour walk around the farm’s fields and meadows lasted over two and a half hours, mainly because of our questions and Phil’s full responses. The almost three-mile circuit really brought home to us the complexity of modern farming. Even though much of the planning is carried out by computer it still takes seventy years to create a meadow!

The walk under a grey sky took us over a hillside where the dominant umbellifers changed from Cow parsley to Pignut. The grazing cattle viewed us disdainfully as we watched the carp rising to snatch insects from the surface of a relatively new pond whilst the Yellow flag provided bright patches of colour around the edges. Throughout our walk over a swathe cut through the lush grasses at the edges of the fields we had wonderful vistas of the rolling Wolds and for me the variation of green vegetation of all shapes and sizes was quite breath-taking: so many wild flowers and grasses.
We paused to look at a the glaciated Swaby valley and learnt that the farmland was based on the site of a terminal moraine. Further on we noticed the clarity of the stream which led Phil to describe the ways in which chemical imbalances were still being adjusted as a result of the days of acid rain over forty years ago. A fact that sticks in my mind is that nitrates have to be controlled to five parts in a billion – that is equivalent to a drop of water in an Olympic sized swimming pool!

We moved past a badger sett to an area where the Early purple and Marsh orchids were beginning to emerge. This location was near to the source of the Great Eau. We crested the hill to a blaze of Cornflowers to our left with Buttercups and Michaelmas daisies to our right. This was where Phil drilled and sowed the wild flower seeds which were harvested and sold by ‘Grow Wild’ near Boston.
As we trudged over another hill and then steeply down to the farm yard we heard a Skylark. He was the harbinger of the rain that had held off for the evening. The hat was passed round as a way of saying thank you to Phil who spent a long time with us and did not charge for his services. Phil was pleased and told us that the cash collected would go to the local church whose land abutted his farm.
A great outing that was rounded off by heavy rain as we drove out of the farm gates. RW

Our next LAG event is the National Meadows day at Red Hill on Saturday 2 July.
Just drop in between 1000 and 1600hrs.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Middle Marsh Farm Visit

Jane and I were delighted to be able to introduce a dozen LAG members to a new area. None of them had visited Middle Marsh Farm before where we had sunshine, a cooling breeze and good company.
We heard the gulls on the mere behind the first hide from over 200 metres away.  When the hide shutters were opened there were white birds all over the banks and the small islands – gulls, avocets, shelduck and greylag geese. On closer inspection by eye and optics we realised that the smudges on the water and the shore were baby birds. I counted 47 greylag geese chicks formed up like a raft behind a couple of adults. Another fluffy mover became a lapwing chick. There were gulls nesting and oystercatchers were flying and shouting to establish territory and mates whilst the black-headed and lesser black back gulls added their voices to the clamour. We gave up trying to identify the host of immature gulls and just enjoyed the spectacle.
During our walk along the wonderfully grassy and completely litter free path to the next hide we kept stopping. There were hares in the field a marsh harrier and common terns in the sky whilst the elegant pale mauve flowers of ladies-smock stood out amongst the grasses, meadow buttercups and dandelions on the bank of the drainage dyke. A reed bunting announced its presence form the top of a large bush but we not able to catch more than a glimpse of the sedge warblers singing in the reeds.
There were not so many species around at the second hide but some anxious lapwings were drawing attention away from their chicks. More hares dashing across the ploughed fields and an avocet overhead made the walk back to the car park interesting. It was time for lunch – a picnic for some and for others a chance to try out the catering facilities at the newly opened Visitors’ Centre at Gibraltar Point.  RW

Many thanks to Julie for the bird list:

Little egret, Mute swan, Greylag goose and goslings, Canada goose, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted duck, Marsh harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Pheasant, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher and chick, Avocet, Lapwing and chick, Redshank, Black-headed gull, Lesser black-backed gull, Herring gull, (various immature gulls), Common tern, Feral pigeon, Wood pigeon, Skylark, Swallow, Swift, Pied wagtail, Sedge warbler, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion crow, Reed bunting. 33.

National Meadows Day

Good morning,
The notice below tells you about an exciting event that will take place at the LWT Red Hill Reserve on Saturday 2 July. LAG has taken on the responsibility for running the event. It will be great to see you there.
A small group of us from LAG are working with the LWT and the National Meadows staff to plan the day. We do not know how many visitors will arrive. It all depends on the weather.
What we need now are a few volunteers. The tasks will be helping with the sales of LWT goods and  the manning of a stall to give out leaflets relating to children's activities. We also need two or three 'marshals' to give out programmes  and to answer very general questions about the day's events. 
Some of us will be there from 0930 until about 1600 but I would love to hear from any of you who will commit yourselves for a half day session 0930- 1230 or 1230- 1530 or even for the whole day. The site is remote and the toilet facilities somewhat rural or even alfresco. Plus you will need to bring your own sustenance as there are no refreshment facilities on site. Please let me know if you can assist by 12 June.
Best wishes

The LWT is working together with the ‘Save our Magnificent Meadows Project’ to host a National Meadows Day.

This is a day when you have the opportunity to visit and explore the reserve. The emphasis is on looking at wild flowers and enjoying yourselves. Children are especially welcome.

o   GUIDED WALKS leave the main entrance at 1030hrs and at 1400hrs
o   You will have to climb stIles to gain access to the meadows. Do be sure that you are fit enough.
o   Please do tread carefully – there are many delicate flowers underfoot.
o   Do take pictures but don’t pick the flowers.
o   Do be aware that dogs are not permitted on the Coronation Meadow.
o   The long grass may be wet. So you need to wear appropriate footwear.

The early orchids seem to be doing well in Lincolnshire this year.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Watch Group

We were lucky to have a fine afternoon for the launch of the new Louth Area Watch Group at Red Hill Nature Reserve on May 15th 2016.
We were initially uncertain as to how many children might attend. So it was exciting that eight children were there at the beginning of the event and more arrived later.
The first activity was to place hoops down in the coronation meadow. The children looked very closely and wrote down and drew what they could see in the circles:- flowers, leaves and insects. We then all walked together very quietly down the hill into the valley and were lucky to see lots of rabbits running home.
Using our hoops we examined another area with different flora etc. We then explored the woodland on each side of the valley to try to find clues as to who lived there. There was much interest in an animal skull that was found. The consensus was that it was most likely a badger skull. Another clue was the badger latrines on one side of the hill near several large holes.

Leaving the coronation meadow we crossed the road and went into the quarry. The children were given 'spotting sheets' so that they were able to explore and tick the items on the list. We finished the afternoon by crossing back again and walking toward Badger Farm to view the red chalk that gave the area its name.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

A Crane.

On Monday evening Jane and I decided to go to the hide at Elm House Farm to see if the Ruffs were still there; no Ruffs but lots of Shelduck and a Lapwing.
As I was watching a hare run down the path in front of the hide  I heard a honking that I associate with Spain and Portugal. The noise came from a Common crane that flew around the ponds escorted by 17 Shelduck. We willed it to land - but no luck. It sailed off north towards Donna Nook. Jane managed to take some photographs to prove to the Bird Recorders that we had seen it. It was seen again on Tuesday in the Covenham area. This is a very rare sighting for Lincolnshire. For once we were in the right place at the right time.
A short time later we became aware of crows mobbing a brown smudge on the ground. This turned out to be a fox sneaking towards the ducks and waders on the ponds. 
As we left, accompanied by bullocks in the field to the right and by cows and calves in the field on the right, five Little egrets  dropped out of the sky. Ray W

Thursday, 12 May 2016


The wonderful display of Cowslips and Dandelions in the verges match the yellow of the Oil seed rape in so many fields. Look carefully by the roadside for the blues of the last Bluebells and the emerging Speedwell as well as the spotted leaves and flower spikes of the Early purple orchids.
On 12 May I learned that there are now 3 Peregrine nestlings on St James’s church tower. Stand by for a noisy summer in Louth!
On this Sunday 15th May from 2pm to 4pm there is an opportunity for children aged 6 to 14 years with an interest in nature to explore on the Red Hill nature reserve. The newly formed Louth Watch Group have arranged an afternoon`s programme of fun wildlife activities for the children and suggest that you bring a picnic to finish the day. The event is open to all and free. Children must be accompanied by an adult. More details and directions on how to find Red Hill are given on Lincolnshire wildlife trust website is not essential, but it would be helpful to know who is coming. If you are interested and for more details, then please contact Avril Huke at or phone 01507 605158
If you know of any families with children who might be interested, then please can you let them know about this event.

Saturday 22 May at 1030 am. A visit to Middle Marsh Wetlands led by Ray Woodcock and hopefully the resident ranger. This venue is not far from Skegness. To reach the start point drive through the Pine Trees Leisure Park, PE24 4RE to a large car park beyond some fishing lakes. The area is flat and there are two hides within 200 metres of the car park, both with wheelchair access. The area is a haven for waders, gulls and geese whilst a walk along a rutted path to a third hide will take us past hedges where warblers and other song birds establish their territory and serenade their mates. We shall be about two hours on site.

HELP is needed with the delivery of the LWT Lapwings magazine; 6 in the in the South Elkington area and 10 in the Alvingham area. If you are able to spend a little time helping out, please let me know on
Enjoy the outdoors – there are so many daylight hours for external activities at this time of the year. Jane and I are off to Gibraltar Point tomorrow to look at birds, wildflowers and the progress on the visitors’ centre.
Ray Woodcock Chairman LAG

Louth Area Group on Facebook

We now have a facebook group!

Come and join the discussions and share your  wildlife news and pictures.

You may also like to join the Lincolnshire Wildlife Photography facebook group.


On this Sunday 15th May from 2 pm to 4 pm there is an opportunity for children aged 6 to 14 years with an interest in nature to explore on the Red Hill nature reserve. The newly formed Louth Watch Group have arranged an afternoon`s programme of fun wildlife activities for the children and suggest that you bring a picnic to finish the day. The event is open to all and free. 
Children must be accompanied by an adult. 
More details and directions on how to find Red Hill are given on Lincolnshire wildlife trust website
Booking is not essential, but it would be helpful to know who is coming. If you are interested and for more details, then please contact Avril Huke at or phone 01507 605158
If you know of any families with children who might be interested, then please can you let them know about this event.

More about Watch Groups:

Saturday, 7 May 2016


Even though the weather changed down to the misty low teens on Saturday morning Jane and I had some wonderful Summer sights within a few miles of Louth. First of all, we checked out the roadside verge MR 366864 on the unnamed road between the B1200 Manby road and Legbourne to see whether the Early purple orchids had come into flower. We were not disappointed; they made a dramatic contrast to the yellow cowslips and the beige reed stalks.

Our next stop was at the Manby Flashes where the Lapwings were trying to distract us from their nestlings. It worked as we did not see any of the tiny balls of green fluff. However, the screaming Swifts overhead told us that Summer had arrived as did the delicate mauve flowers of the Lady’s smock on the stream bank. This plant is also called the Cuckooflower as it flowers at the same time as the Cuckoos arrive. We heard a Cuckoo later at RIMAC but did not see it. The 3 Buzzards and Peregrine overhead took advantage of the warming air and for a change they were not being hassled by gulls. There was a constant Skylark presence. A Reed bunting and a Wren called in clear view and there were various warblers singing in the reeds – we did not see them but I think there was a Sedge warbler amongst them whilst we did see and hear a Grasshopper warbler.

We moved along the B1200 for 5 miles to visit the hide in the middle of some farmland at MR 456920. This hide is worth a visit. It is reached by parking at some farm buildings on the road nearly opposite the Saltfleetby St Clements church. The land owner permits people to walk along the farm track for about 300 metres to the hide from which we saw nine Ruffs; two were males in full plumage and were having quite a set to. As we walked back to the car we had a brilliant fly past of 53 Whimbrels. They flew into the field and settled amongst the long grass at MR 458918.

After a quick bite in the sunshine at the Prussian Queen we had a stroll around RIMAC where we tripped over a frog and heard the aforementioned Cuckoo but despite careful looking we decided that we were too early for the Marsh and Bee orchids. Ray Woodcock Saturday 7 May 2016

Friday, 22 April 2016

Cowslip Variation

We have a few hundred cowslips, Primula veris, in our garden near the Lincolnshire coast, all propagated from seeds collected in the wild from Lincolnshire in 2013. While most of them are the normal yellow that one would expect, a significant proportion have a lot of orange colouring on the petals.

The two pictures above show the typical cowslip with completely yellow petals save five orange spots on the inside.

Some flowers have a thin orange border to the petals.

In others the orange colouring spreads across the petal, often darker on the outside than the inside of the flower.

Some flowers are a deep orange, almost red, with contrasting yellow centres.

For comparison, this is an oxslip, Primula elatior, showing no orange at all.

To find the proportion of plants showing the orange colouring I counted them. This is not straightforward.

Each plant is either yellow or orange, all the flowers on each spike and each spike on a single plant being the same.  Yellow and orange plants grow in close proximity, ruling out an environmental control of colour.  It is therefore assumed that the colour variation is genetically controlled.  As can be seen in the photos, there is a clear distinction between yellow and orange but within the orange group there is a variation in the degree of orange colouration. I have therefore divided them between yellow and orange, grouping all flowers displaying any orange (other than the ubiquitous five spots) into one group.

Most of the plants are now over three years old, having been germinated from seed in the autumn of 2013, raised in seed trays then planted out into a nursery bed in summer 2014 and then replanted in autumn 2014 and spring 2015. Many of the plants have grown into clumps by vegetative spreading and have many flower spikes each.  It is assumed that each clump is a genetic clone, having arisen from one seed, and so each such clump was counted once, rather than each flower spike being counted.  This may introduce some degree of error since a few of the clumps may comprise two or three genetically distinct plant if, during the seedling pricking out and subsequent replanting two or three seedlings growing very close together were treated as one plant.  This was illustrated in four clumps showing both yellow and orange spikes but close inspection showed that these originated from separate plants in close proximity. That this occurred but only occurred four times suggests that there is likely to be some bias of under-counting of yellow plants but that this bias is small.

195 clumps of cowslips were recorded.

Yellow:   145  76%
Orange:  50   26%

Taking into account the possible pro-yellow bias in the counting described above, it is concluded that between a fifth and a quarter of the plants have the genetic trait that produces the orange colouring.

The study of colour variation in cowslips is nothing new. This is from 
Charles Darwin, 'The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication, Volume 2' published in 1868:

And then there's heterostyly

Biff Vernon, 22/04/2016


Laura Kidd posted these pictures of red cowslips on the facebook group The Wild Plant Group of UK & Ireland

She recorded them near Thame in Oxfordshire. Growing in a semi-natural area, Laura estimated that between 5 and 10% were this colour, the rest being the normal yellow.