Friday, 1 December 2017

Poles Apart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 15 November 2017


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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 3 November 2017

Information and Coffee Morning - 11th November

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

Saturday, 28 October 2017


Last Friday evening Tim Newberry, lately a Meteorologist at RAF Coningsby, gave 45 members of the Louth Group a very interesting illustrated talk about, ‘Understanding the Weather including Climate Change’. Tim presented a complex topic in a way that was easy to understand and to my surprise easy to remember. I know that at least three of us who had attended looked up at the sky the next morning and identified the long streamers of cirrus clouds high up in the troposphere.
The history of formal weather forecasting in the UK dates from 1805 when Captain Fitzroy RN founded the Meteorological office using local observations to attempt predictions. Currently the task is carried out by one of the most powerful computers in the world which is capable of making 215 billion calculations every day.
We were encouraged to make our own weather forecasts based on some knowledge of air pressure and cloud formations. Finally, we were pleased to learn that some folklore expressions such as the one about the red sky and the shepherd were reasonably reliable.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Report on Louth Watch Meeting at Spout Yard Sunday 15th October 2017

 Several children came into  the Gallery at the beginning of the meeting.
They were first given a sheet with some bat facts that they had to decide were either true or false. They were able to discuss these with the adult accompanying them.

Then Viv Booth talked to the children about bats and about the ones she has looked after.
She carried on to discuss the bat fact sheet  with the children, to see how much they knew.
At this stage several more children arrived so had missed the start of the meeting.

The meeting continued with all the children choosing  to do one or more  of the crafts that were set up  on the table - a bat mobile, a bat cup and a bat mask. It was difficult at first as there were lots of children wanting to take part. However everybody was very patient and helped each other. Several  children managed to make them all. Lots of bat masks went home.

Towards the end of the session the children had to sit very quietly. Viv, carrying  a tiny bat in her hand, came into the Gallery and showed the bat  to each child.  It was a very short session so that the bat would not be frightened.

The children then finished the items  they were making .

When looking at the register we found that 39 children had been signed in and 26 adults.
That is a record so far. It was a bit of a maelstrom in a small room, but all seemed to enjoy it.

Friday, 20 October 2017


It seems that a few days of summer weather has confused some of the wild flowers; we have Primroses growing in our verges and there is a profusion of newly growing Hogweed, Meadowsweet and Stinging nettles in the hedgerows. Nevertheless, the animals are more predictable. I have seen Pink-footed geese in the sky together with Brent geese on the coast where the first seal pup has been born.

Methodist Church, Nichol Hill, Louth at 1930hrs on Friday 27 October when Tim Newberry, lately a Meteorologist at RAF Coningsby, will give us an illustrated talk about, ‘Understanding the Weather including Climate Change’. Members and non-members are welcome at a cost of £2.50 which includes refreshments.
At this meeting I shall be calling for volunteers to sign up to help with preparing and serving teas and biscuits at the 24 November, 26 January, 23 February and 23 March meetings.
It will be much appreciated if you could bring raffle prizes which will be used to raise funds at the Information Coffee morning in November and at the April 2018 Annual General Meeting.

This year’s theme is ‘Moths, Butterflies and Insects’. Colin Smith the Lincolnshire County Moth Recorder, will set up a display of specimens. He will be prepared to answer your questions and you can take part in an insect based quiz. The Wildlife Watch members will provide an activity for children.
All ages are welcome to have the chance meet LAG members whilst enjoying a cup of coffee and buying LWT Christmas cards, calendars, note pads and stocking fillers. There will be a raffle. Admission will be £1.50 whilst children are admitted without charge.
We shall observe the two minutes silence at 1100hrs.

Best wishes
Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area group

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Flying Bats Friday 8-9-17

Viv Booth looks after bats that are weak or have been injured.
She invited Louth Watch children to visit her house to see her bats flying. We met as it was beginning to get dark.
She took the  children into a separate room to show them the bats. She held a bat in her hand so that they could see it close up. She told them about how and where bats live. She then allowed the bat to fly in the room.
Then we all walked through to her outside bat enclosure.. She showed us the CCTV she had set up to watch the bats on the screen. She held another bat in her hand so that we could all see it closely. She told us all lots of interesting facts about bats.

The meeting was set up at the last minute as Viv needed to let the bats free. She released them into the wild the same weekend. 

Wildflower Project with Spout Yard Trustees 17-9-17

18 children wanted to plant cowslip seeds at Spout Yard on Sunday 17th September as part of the Wild Flower project.
Firstly we looked at part of the proposed site by the river for the wild flower area. We asked the children to produce drawings and plans that they would like to see for the site. These drawings were passed on to the Spout Yard Trustees who will decide how much of the area will be planted.
We also measured the length (approx 20m) and the width (approx 4 m) of the site in order to be able to calculate the area and how much seed might be needed.
The children then planted cowslip seeds in compost in 20 cell trays and in pots. Each child put a named marker on his/her tray. They also took some pots and seeds home. The seeds had been collected at Red Hill.

All the trays have been left in or near the greenhouse at Spout Yard.  Gemma Jackson, a Trustee, agreed to keep an eye on them.(Access to the greenhouse is through a locked gate.) Hopefully the seeds will germinate and we will be able to grow them on next year.

Report on Louth Watch Meeting in Muckton Wood 10-9-17

We had a good meeting at Muckton on Sunday. The weather was cold and wet around 1.30pm, so we were pleased when three children arrived.
Louise talked about how animals might survive in the woods in winter.
The children then collected slips of paper, laid out along the first ride, showing  possible conditions that animals might have to deal with in the winter. These were then discussed.  Louise brought grapes, some in ice cubes, to illustrate how the smell and taste of food can be affected by icy weather.
The children enjoyed the hibernation game where they  had to collect food, water and shelter tokens, that had already been hidden in the wood.
We then walked through the wood looking to identify trees and to find nuts and berries.

We finished the meeting with the children enthusiastically building small houses from twigs etc for animals to shelter in during the winter. 

Monday, 18 September 2017


Good evening,
It will be an early start at 0800 hrs on Sunday 24 September when we meet at the main car park at Gibraltar Point. Bring your binoculars and cameras to enhance your enjoyment of the bird activity to be seen at an autumn high spring tide under the expert guidance of LWT wardens.
Judith John was there earlier this week and caught this wonderful shot of Knot and Oystercatchers in flight.
In August we had two sessions of seed collecting at Red Hill. On each ocassion a dozen members turned up to help at short notice. Warden Harry Turner was very pleased by the amount of Cowslip and Small scabiuos seeds that we collected and we were delighted to see many Red Admiral butterflies on the Devil’s bit scabious.
A further group of LAG members have been busy working at Rigsby Wood, Mill Hill and Muckton Wood whilst the Watch group had fun meetings at Rimac and at Anderby Creek.
I am pleased to report that two members responded to the request I made in the Summer Newsletter for assistance with editing the newsletter and with organising the refreshments at our indoor meetings.
Thanks Chris Henderson and Jan Croft and welcome to the LAG committee.
Best wishes
Ray Woodcock Chiarman LAG

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Watch Group

I hope everybody has had a happy school holiday.

We are starting our autumn programme on Sunday September 10th at 2pm in Muckton Woods. MR TF 382810

With the new season we will be looking to see what is changing in the woods.
We will also be thinking about hibernation and how animals cope with winter in the woods.

Please park on the verge and walk along the track into the wood
The event is free. Children must be accompanied by an adult. 

We would love children to bring and show us anything interesting they have found over the summer.

The Spout Yard Trustees have invited us to take part in a project to create some wild flower areas in the park area.
We would like the children to be involved. 
We would like to start with the children planting some cowslip seeds in the greenhouse at Spout Yard. We hope that we would eventually be able to plant them out as plugs. We are hoping to do this on Sunday 17th September at 2pm.
On the same day they can help decide which areas to plant, measure and work out the size of the area so we will know how much seed to buy. We will possibly prepare the ground and plant a wildflower mixture next spring. 

Please let me know if your children would be interested in this project. We would prefer to know how many trays and quantity of compost we need!

Best Wishes


On a couple of mornings this Summer we  helped Harry Turner collect seeds at Coronation Meadow Red Hill where we collected a couple of kilos of Cowslip seeds and a lesser amount of Small Scabious seeds. Last week, the second occasion, we saw clouds of Red Admiral butterflies on the Devil's bit scabious and marvelled at the golden seed heads of the Greater knapweed plants.
Harry was delighted and most effusive in his thanks. In turn, we were pleased to offer him some support in the hard work that he carries out at this spectacular LWT site. Because of the weather we had very little notice of the call for assistance. However, the turnout of volunteers was excellent – a dozen of us on each occasion. RW

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


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.


Sunday, 25 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


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

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.


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


Kingfisher, Bearded tit. 2

Thursday, 18 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.

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


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