Wednesday, 20 November 2019



The speaker at our meeting at 0730pm on Friday 29 November at the Nichol Hill Methodist Church, Louth will be Helen Gamble who will be talking about ‘The Lincolnshire Wolds - its wildlife, landscapes and geology.
The meeting is open to all with an entrance fee of £2.50; children are welcome and are not charged.
Helen is the Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service Project Officer who provides advice and, where appropriate, helps to deliver grant aid to farmers, landowners and community groups on works to implement landscape, wildlife and access improvements within the Wolds and is the contact for Sustainable Development Funds and Small Grants Scheme.
The seals are back in force at Donna Nook. The most recent count, reported last Saturday, showed that there were 362 Bulls, 1254 Cows and 872 pups. These figures will continue to increase.
The volunteers who direct and inform the visitors have had a cold and wet time so far. They do a great job and see some fascinating sights including that of a Pomarine skua feeding on the seal placentas. If you intend to visit, try to go on weekdays when there are fewer visitors.
The paths to the North of the main car park at Donna Nook are always worth a visit. You will see ducks, geese and waders flying and settling on the lagoons and if you walk quietly you may see Roe deer moving through the dunes. 
Best wishes

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Galapagos viewed from Louth

Our 2019-20 season of talks began on Friday 25th October with an account of a trip to South America by Roger Briggs. After a quick look at Peru and the Inca Trail, we learnt much about the Galapagos Islands, their geography and wildlife, with numerous photos and some videos of the unique fauna and flora of this extraordinary archipelago.

For further reading, there's a good introduction to the islands on Wikipedia and the best introduction to the wildlife is to be found at the Galapagos Conservation Trust website

Of course the most fascinating account is that written by Charles Darwin in his The Voyage of the Beagle.  Here is  CHAPTER XVII — GALAPAGOS ARCHIPELAGO

Finches, drawn by Charles Darwin

Next month's meeting is the Nancy Loft Memorial Lecture. On Friday 29th November Helen Gamble of the Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service will talk to us about some hills a good deal closer to home than the Galapagos Islands.

Next year we celebrate 50 years of the Louth Area Group of the Wildlife Trust. Would you like to share a memorable wildlife related experience form the last half century?

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Report on Louth Watch Meeting 20-10-19

As the children arrived they were able to chose owl-centred colouring, word search or anagram.

Each child was then given a dissecting tray and an owl pellet, supplied by Roger Briggs.
Mary demonstrated how to tease the pellets apart with forceps and mounted points.
The children enjoyed pulling the pellets apart to discover the bones of small animals that had been
eaten and then regurgitated by the owl. They laid the bones they found carefully in the tray. They used a magnifier to examine the skulls and jaw bones they had separated out. They tried to identify the animal eaten by the owl by consulting a printed guide.

By using the digital microscope they were also able to look more closely at the skulls and bones. They were able to see the jaw and teeth which helped the identification of mainly shrews and voles.
Surprisingly several of the pellets contained the skull of more than one animal.

The children found the dissection really fascinating. They finished the afternoon by colouring an owl picture and attaching autumn coloured 'leaf feathers' to the owl's body. The results were very effective.

Eight children attended.

It was Mary Porter's last visit to a Watch group before her retirement as Administrator.
Thank you Mary.

Monday, 14 October 2019


Autumn has arrived; a wet Sunday, leaves to be swept and the spectacle of 83 Pink foot geese flying over the house early this morning.
Our remaining events for 2019 are the two speaker meetings in October and in November. You will be aware that the Information Coffee Morning scheduled for 9 November has been cancelled.
However, there will be LWT Christmas cards for sale at our Friday 25 October meeting from 7.00pm at the Nichol Hill Methodist Church, Louth. The entry fee, including refreshments, for members and for non-members stays at £2.50.
On this occasion the meeting will have a South American twist. We shall hear from two speakers, Roger Briggs and George Butler, who will tell us about their experiences in Peru and the Galapagos islands.
I look forward to seeing you.
Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area Group

Tuesday, 1 October 2019


It was pouring with rain at 0950hrs and a thunderstorm was forecast. Brian Oxborrow, the VRM, Judith and I agreed to cancel the event. A member of the Brigg group drove up, he concurred with our decision and left.
At 1001hrs LAG committee members and Watch leaders arrived and made the rain ease and then stop! So, we had another discussion and the walk, albeit very soggy underfoot was on. Brian took us around the site for the next two hours and described the ways in which rough pasture and scrub had been turned into heathland, woodland and grassland over the last few decades.
The rain held off and we all spotted many species of fungus, often in clumps by the path. The most notable was a huge red Fly agaric by the entrance. Bill Lee has kindly provided below a list of the species that we encountered.
‘We saw over a dozen different fungi a few I could identify with some certainty, some tentatively and some still elude me.
Types with sponge instead of gills, Suillus species including Slippery Jack and possibly Jersey Cow Boletus, also another Boletus species which I couldn't identify. Puff ball types, Common Puffball and Common Earthball.  Quite a few gill fungi including Destroying Angel, Amanita virosa, Fly Agaric ,Amanita muscari, Amethyst Deceiver, Laccaria amathystea, Shaggy Ink Cap, Coprinus comatus, various Russulas including R.aeruginer(greencap), R.atropurorea (red cap ), and R. lepida(red cap).There were also bracket fungi on the birch and Coriolus (Tremelas) versicolor.’
It was a most interesting event and I should like to apologise to the member from Brigg who missed the walk.
Ray Woodcock

Report on Louth Watch Meeting – 22nd September 2019

Louth and Rimac Watch groups combined their September session at on the beach at Crook Bank, Theddlethorpe for the Annual Beach Clean.

In addition to the Rimac Watch group, several adults, a few families, two Scout Leaders and a Ladies group took part.
Three Watch Leaders from Louth also participated in the beach clean, but unfortunately no children from the Louth group.

The clearance began with a 100 yard recorded sweep to go to central records. We began this at Mablethorpe North End and worked our way back to Theddlethorpe. Once past the 100 yard cut off we continued to record on a separate sheet for Roger’s records.

The initial area had the most litter with a lot of wipes and food related items. Although we did find a few items, the remaining area was reasonably clean.

The Louth group would like to thank Roger and Ruth for organising and hosting the session.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Report on Watch Meeting at LRAC, Kenwick 23-6-19

We began the afternoon by walking to the meadow area at Lincolnshire Rural Activities Centre near Kenwick. It looked beautiful as it appeared to be full of ox-eye daisies.
The children were asked to see how many different leaf shapes they could find and record in a 3 metre long strip.
We talked about why meadows are so magical and special. The children (11) were  given Meadow Activity Sheets and encouraged to explore the meadow.  They  were able to take the sheets home to use in other meadows.
They  were also  able to use the pootle pots and magnifiers to look for insects.
They were told about the Love Lincs Plants project .
The children chose the two plants that would be added to the Natural History Museum and Joseph Banks collections. There were a great number of common spotted orchids in flower and two of those were dug up and laid on a tray.
The other plant that was chosen was the meadow cranesbill which was again in abundance and two of  those were dug up.
The children then each chose a flower to be added to the Watch collection. They collected a flower and leaf from each specimen. These  included ox-eye daisy, germander speedwell,  black medick, common mouse- ear and birds-foot trefoil.
We walked back to the Centre where the children were ready for the drinks and biscuits, donated by Northgate Coop in Louth.
The specimens were identified and recorded. Each was arranged on paper on a board laid on newspaper and then covered with paper and another board and  placed in a press.
The resulting dried specimens will be mounted at a later meeting.
We had a very pleasant productive afternoon in a beautiful place.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Watch Group Sunday 23rd June

Our next meeting is on Sunday 23rd June,starting at 2pm at the Lincolnshire Rural activity Centre at Kenwick.
We will be visiting the meadow area and arranging some fun activities there, including the Magnificent Meadows Activity sheet.
We are excited to be taking part in the LoveLincsPlants project to collect and preserve Lincolnshire plants for the Joseph Banks Institute and the Natural History Museum collections. So we will chose and collect two samples from each of two species growing there.
The children can also collect a flower and a leaf from other plants growing in the same area.
We can also look for butterflies and other insects in the meadow.
Back in the classroom we will start the process of pressing the flowers, which can then be mounted at a later meeting.
We will also have magnifiers and the digital microscope in the classroom so that the children can look more closely at things they might find.
We  will meet in the LRAC car park, Kenwick Hill  Louth LN11 8NR 
(There is a shared entrance with Kenwick Park Leisure Centre, Continue straight on and turn right after the overflow car park)
Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Louth Watch Group

Report on Louth Watch Meeting at Westgate Fields
Sunday 19th May 2019

Over a dozen children attended this month’s session on ‘30 Days Wild’. We were fortunate to have fine weather which meant that all the planned activities were available.

The children were introduced to the concept of ‘30 Days Wild’ and were provided with a blank calendar page to fill in with ideas that they may like to try during June.

They were then given a large selection of activities from which to choose and were encouraged to try several during the afternoon. There was also a bank of further ideas from which they could extract those which may be of interest them. We also hoped that this would spark their own imagination and they would think of more activities which they could then share amongst the group.

The children were able to select from the following activities in any order and could complete as many or as few as they liked:

1)              I-spy in Westgate Fields sheet
2)              Litter pick (with equipment kindly lent by the Co-op)
3)              Mini treasure hunt – find tiny items to fill a pot
4)              Craft Butterflies
5)              Nature pictures using natural resources
6)              Colour wheel – locating natural objects for as many colours on the      wheel as possible
7)              Mask making – Owl, Fox or Mouse
8)              Leaf/Tree/Plant ID
9)              Measuring tree girth
10)                  Flower sketching and symmetry
11)                  Use of pooters/hand lenses for minibeast ID

The children (and their parents) were very enthusiastic and were all given the chance to feedback to the group as a whole. Hopefully many of them will sign up for ‘30 Days Wild’ and will attend at least one Watch activity during June.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Louth Watch Group

This June the Wild Life Trusts are challenging everybody to do something wild every day.
To help prepare,  Louth Watch is planning exciting and fun activities in Westgate Fields on Sunday 19th May.
We are meeting at the Leaf Sculptures in Westgate Fields at 2.00pm until about 4.00pm.
The event is free. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
We hope you will join us
Best Wishes

PS You can send for a free 30 Days Wild pack from 

PPS Watch Day Out is on Saturday 15th June at Woodhall Spa airfield. Please book with Mary Porter, Watch Organiser,

Monday, 22 April 2019

March 29th Meeting

Beetles - Alan Lazenby

Alan introduced us to his introduction to beetles, as a young boy exploring the bomb-sites of his native Sheffield, how he made a makeshift microscope from the lenses found in a bombed opticians premises, and the rejection of his contribution to the school magazine. Shame on the teacher who thought a detailed account of the local ground-beetles might be too narrow for the general audience of his school mates.

Nothing daunted, Alan became The expert in ground beetles of the Sorby district and his work is published as an NHBS Field Guide, 'Ground Beetles of the Sorby Area'. Apparently ground beetle species recorded in the Sorby Recording Area now number 222, which is 60% of the British list.

Following Alan's move to Lincolnshire he has become our local expert on this important but often overlooked group of creatures. We were treated to a fascinating collection of photographs showing the diversity of the Coleoptera and learned of the vital role they play in the ecosystem. Take home message for gardeners: beetles eat slugs!

Here's a picture of a beetle just finishing off a slug.

The Golden Ground Beetle, Carabus auratus, eating a slug on a countryside road. It is a diurnal hunter and scavenger on sustainable agriculture (never found on intensive agriculture, where pesticides and insecticides are applied).  Source.

Monday, 25 March 2019

February 22nd Meeting

The February meeting of the Louth Area Group of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust featured a talk by Gary Steele on Barn Owls. Unlike most birds, owls have forward looking eyes, giving them faces that we humans can identify with, which, suggested Gary, explains their popularity and significance in our culture. He said they have a great many local and common names and the Barn Owl Trust lists these:

·        Banshee
·        Barn Owl
·        Barnyard Owl
·        Berthuan
·        Billy Whit
·        Billy Wise
·        Billy Wix
·        Cave Owl
·        Cherubim
·        Church Owl
·        Common Owl
·        Death Owl
·        Delicate Owl
·        Demon Owl
·        Dobby Owl
·        Farmer’s Friend
·        Gilli-Howlett
·        Gil-Hooter
·        Ghost Owl
·        Golden Owl
·        Hissing Owl
·        Hobby Owl
·        Hobgoblin Owl
·        Hoolet
·        Jenny Howlet
·        Madge Howlett
·        Moggy
·        Monkey-faced Owl
·        Night Owl
·        Oolert
·        Rat Owl
·        Roarer
·        Screaming Owl
·        Screech Owl
·        Scritch Owl
·        Silver Owl
·        Stone Owl
·        Straw Owl
·        Ullet
·        White Breasted Owl
·        White Hootlet
·        White Owl
·        Woolert
·        Yellow Owl
Lincoln Cathedral has eight stone carvings of barn owls and Tennyson wrote a poem:

The Owl

When cats run home and light is come,
And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,
And the whirring sail goes round,
And the whirring sail goes round;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

When merry milkmaids click the latch,
And rarely smells the new-mown hay,
And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch
Twice or thrice his roundelay,
Twice or thrice his roundelay;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

Lincolnshire has the highest barn owl count of any county but even here numbers are not what they were. In the 1930 there may have been 15,000 pairs but by the 1980s the figure had dropped to about 4,000. There has been a recovery since then, the number of pairs now standing around 8,000. Schedule I protection and the efforts by conservation minded farmers and others may have helped. The principle prey species, the short tailed field-vole, is key. The loss of rough grassland and the phasing out of mixed farming in favour of arable probably accounts for the barn owl’s decline. Recently wildlife-friendly farm management practices such as leaving wider field margins has compensated for some of the loss.

Naturally the barn owl nests in holes in trees, but there are now few suitably large, old and decaying trees. Old barns and sheds are used by the owls as substitutes but modern farm buildings do not provide the same opportunities as traditional barns and outhouses. Many nest sites are now artificial and Gary’s efforts over many years to install owl boxes on poles, in old buildings and, particularly, in church towers, have given the barn owls of eastern Lincolnshire new opportunities.

To find out more about barn owls there is no better starting place than The Barn Owl Trust website.

Other information:

The definitive book is The Barn Owl by D.S Bunn, A.B Warburton, R.D.S Wilson
Here's an online preview.

For the artistically minded here is a handy guide to drawing owls:

1. Draw some circles.
2. Draw the rest of the owl.

Report on Watch Meeting Fossils 17-3-19

The subject of  our meeting on Sunday March 17th at Spout Yard Gallery  was 'Fossils'. It is obviously a very popular subject as seventeen children came to learn more about them.
As children arrived they were each given a word-search on fossils.
We were very lucky that Stuart Sizer, an expert, had agreed to come and tell us about Fossils.
We first watched his short film telling us what fossils are and how they were formed.
Stuart  had brought a large tray containing  sand and small pebbles. He encouraged the children to search in the tray for anything they thought could be a fossil. The children were able to keep any fossils that they found. They were all very keen to join the hunt with the result that each child found several small fossils to take home.
Each child was also able to make a fossil. Plaster was mixed with water to make a paste and a small quantity  put in a pot . A shell was pushed into the top of the mixture and then covered with sand. When the plaster had set, the sand and shell were removed to reveal the outline of a 'fossil' shell in the plaster.
Fossils were also made by pressing shells and other objects into plasticine medallions .  The children also created their own decorated fossils.
We paused during the afternoon for refreshments that had kindly been donated by Louth Co-op.
Overall it was a very productive, if noisy, afternoon.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019


SPEAKER MEETING 29 March, 7.30pm at Nichol Hill Church. Alan Lazenby will ask us, ‘How well do you know your beetles?’ and will fascinate us with details about this huge group of insects. The entry fee, including refreshments, is £2.50. Children are most welcome and have free entry.

The AGM approaches. After a short AGM on 26 April it will be your opportunity to have up to 10 minutes to show wildlife photographs or to give a brief wildlife presentation. Please let me know if you are prepared to let us share your pictures or your knowledge. Give me your pictures on a memory stick and I will put them on my computer for you to display at the meeting.

The ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the Louth Area group of the Lincolnshire wildlife Trust will be held at Nichol Hill Church on Friday 26 April 2019 at 7.30 pm
In accordance with the Constitution, all Committee members and Officers stand down at each AGM. Chairman Ray Woodcock and Secretary Biff Vernon and Treasurer Rod Baddon are willing to be re-elected, as are current committee members: Colin Byatt, Louise Scott, Judith John, and Chris Henderson. New committee members will be welcome; nomination forms are available from the Chairman.

It is 2019. Fresh ideas and new faces are needed. The group can benefit from more committee members. The committee meets three or four times a year. Why not give it a whirl for a year? Speak to me or ask any of the other committee members for more details.

Our hedgehogs are still feeding and snuffling. The trail camera that records their activities picked up a bat at 0536hrs on 3 March. I sent a copy of the photograph to the Lincolnshire County Bat recorder who managed to identify it as a Brown long-eared bat. I also learnt from her that, ‘This bizarre weather is bringing bats out of hibernation early, with a number of other records already. It’s also beginning to bring casualties in: we’ve had yet another today, a severely underweight pipistrelle found in Bourne this morning. There are insects flying, but if there are not enough to replenish the energy bats are needing to fly then they lose weight and finish on the ground, too weak to fly, frequently to be caught by cats or other predators.’

Best wishes
Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area Group

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Report on Louth Watch Meeting 17-2-19

We had a very busy afternoon with a flower theme at Spout Yard on Sunday 17th February.
We began the afternoon asking the twelve children (all girls) to write down the name of a flower for each letter of the alphabet.
We talked about the importance of plants in the world. How they provided food for animals and people. How they attracted pollinators.
We had a short  walk in Spout Yard park to look for any flowers. We saw snowdrops and an early primrose. We looked at the wild flower plots that had been seeded last year by some of the group. Several plants  were already appearing.
We went back into the gallery and looked closely at some flowers, using magnifiers to see the different parts.
The children then made their own flowers. They each painted  a template for flower sepals and petals. A ball of Plasticine was added to a stick to represent the receptacle on a flower stalk.
The sepals and petals were then added. A ball of  Plasticine was added  to represent the ovary. Pipe cleaners were used for the stamens. A small ball of Plasticine was placed on the top of the stick to represent the stigma on top of the style. The results was several  pretty flowers.
The next activity was for the children to make seed balls from a mixture of compost, flour, water and flower seeds. The mixture was squeezed into balls which were then placed on a decorated plate to take home.
The children enjoyed refreshments of juice and biscuits which had been supplied by Northgate Coop.

Thursday, 14 February 2019


We shall be hearing from Conservationist Gary Steele who will be talking about, ‘Barn Owls in Lincolnshire’ next Friday 22 February at 1930 hrs in the Nichol Hill Methodist Church, Louth. The entry fee, including refreshments, is £2.50. Children are most welcome and have free entry.
Last June Jane and I spent a fascinating morning under the tutelage of Gary when we learnt how to identify and record the contents of owl pellets. We are looking forward to meeting him again. 
The AGM approaches. After a shortened version of the AGM it will be your chance to have up to 10 minutes to show wildlife photographs or give brief wildlife presentation. Please let me know if you are prepared to let us share your pictures.
Fresh ideas and new faces are needed. The group needs more committee members. The committee meets three or four times a year. Why not give it a whirl for a year? Speak to me or any of the other committee members for more details.
There is a need for one or two members to take responsibility for the important task of organising of refreshments at our six indoor meetings. Contact Jane Woodcock on to find out what is involved.
Many thanks to the 18 members who let me have a copy of the bird list that they had sent to the RSPB. Between us we recorded 31 different species including a 4 Pheasants, a Heron and a Tawny owl. I have totalled the numbers of the most numerous species from all the gardens for your information.
Sparrow 137, Blackbird 73, Goldfinch 64, Wood pigeon 59, Blue tit 42. Greenfinch 39, Chaffinch 34, Jackdaw 27 [15 in one garden!], Great tit 26, Robin 18, Black-headed gull 17 [7 in my garden!], Collared dove 18, Starling 16, Dunnock 14, Coal tit 11.
It will be interesting to compare our small sample with that of the national figures when they are announced.
The Pink-footed geese were still around on 7 February. Jane and I were in the vicinity of Rimac looking at Wigeon, Curlew and Roe deer in a meadow just prior to dusk when we saw skein of about 200 Pink-footed geese moving from inland to the coast.
Our hedgehogs did not appear during the snow; we presumed that they had hibernated. But on 6 February two appeared and we have had sightings ever since. When they both appear at the same time there is interaction between them. Scuffling, sniffing and grunting indicates that they are of different sexes.
Best wishes
Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area Group   01507 606880

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Big Garden Bird Watch

Several people from the Louth area who joined this year's Big Garden Bird Watch sent us their records. The data are available to download on this spreadsheet

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Report on Louth Watch Meeting at Spout Yard 20th January 2019

The meeting began with a quiz for the  children.  They identified twenty pictures of British birds which had been arranged on the walls. The answers were discussed and the children did  very well. We talked about which birds you might see in your garden and which birds are most common in the UK. Also we talked about the Big British Birdwatch which would be the following weekend.

Everybody then walked around Spout Yard Park together and managed to spot several different birds in the area.

The digital microscope and optical microscope were set up so that  children were able to view various bird feathers and a bird skull.

Each child was able to chose to play a bird game, either bird bingo or snap with a set of bird cards. They  all enjoyed the games. They then could chose to colour a bird picture.

The children each had a biscuit and a drink of fruit juice which had been donated by Louth

They finally were able to get very messy whilst making bird feeders. String was tied to each pine cone and a loop made so that it  could be hung up. They then mixed soft lard, muesli, cheese etc and covered the pine cones with the mixture. They also filled half coconut shells with it.

The children took bird feeders home to hang in their gardens. They also hung some of the bird feeders on trees in Spout Yard Park.

It was a very busy afternoon which everybody seemed to enjoy.

Friday, 18 January 2019


Good day and a belated Happy New Year,
Our first Speaker Meeting of 2019 will be given by Geoff Lea on the History and Wildlife Areas of the Norfolk Broads. The meeting on Friday 25 January will commence at 1930 hrs in the Nichol Hill Methodist Church, Louth. The entry fee, including refreshments, is £2.50. Children are most welcome and have free entry.
I am particularly looking forward to this talk. I spent the first 25 years of my life in Hunstanton on the edge of the Wash but rarely visited the ‘other side’ of the county’.
The last seals have left the foreshore at Donna Nook although some can still be seen lingering on the off-shore sandbanks. There has been a record number of pups born; 2066 had been recorded by 21 December. Geoff Mullett made a video of a seal giving birth which may be viewed on You Tube:

The great event for me at this time of year is the Great Garden Bird Watch on 26-28 January. Please take part and let me have a copy of your results and post code on I can then ascertain the number of species that have been seen LAG area.
I enjoy looking at and recording the birds in our garden for this national task and hope that there will be as many species as we had at various times on 15 January; 27 sparrows, 4 Blackbirds, 2 Collared doves, 3 Wood pigeons, 2 Coal tits, 2 Great tits a Blue tit, a Wren and a Robin. A few scraps of meat on the lawn attracted 2 Common gulls, 7 Black-headed gulls and for the first time a huge Herring gull. It is interesting to note that one of the Common gulls has been a regular visitor for the last 3 years. It has a badly deformed left foot but looks in good health and is usually the first gull to hit the food.
In January 2020 the Louth Area Group will reach its 50th year of existence. I am seeking ideas as to how the half century should be celebrated – possibly with some sort of exhibition. The LAG archives only consist of copies of programmes and some committee minutes. Consequently, I shall be delighted to hear from: -
1.    Long standing LAG members who have pored over photograph albums of the period 1970- 2010 to see whether they have pictures that they would permit to be used in a display.
2.    Members who have ideas for a low-key event or events that could mark this 50-year point.
3.    A person or people who would be prepared to research documents held at LWT HQ, Horncastle.
4.    A volunteer or volunteers who would be prepared to manage any planned event or events.
Best wishes
Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area Group