Thursday, 10 December 2020

Louth’s Breeding Peregrine Falcons 2020

 For the sixth year, the peregrines maintained their presence at St. James’ Church. Following the failure of the 2019 brood when all five chicks failed to fledge – thought to be a combination of bad weather and poor parenting by an inexperienced female – we waited with a degree of apprehension for the pair to breed again.

A new nest tray with a protective roof was installed on the walkway on 24th January and by the 2nd March, pictures from the TV screen showed a depression in the gravel, proof that at least one of the pair had visited and ‘tried it for size’.

By the middle of March with COVID-19 sweeping the country, the church was closed to visitors, so we were relying Verger Dale Walker to provide any news, and on the 29th March, he revealed the falcon was now installed on the nest. On 11th April, Dale was able to check the TV screen and saw the falcon brooding at least two, and possibly more eggs. It was a month before we received a further report, when on the 10th May, 3 chicks were seen to be fed.

The chicks were ringed at the end of the month by Alan Ball under strict health security conditions, and thought to be two males and a female. By the 6th June, The chicks/young juveniles (eyases) were heard to call for the first time, showing that they are growing and demanding food, and on the 9th, we had the first glimpse of one of the juveniles peering through one of the castellations. A couple of days later, all 3 juveniles showed themselves

Two of the juveniles made their first flights on the morning of 18th June, predictably landing in gardens where they sat, looking quite confused. One was picked up in the rectory driveway by local vet Andy Cook, a bird of prey specialist, and carried up the stairway and released on the tower walkway. The other turned up in our garden, spending three hours on our shelter roof, before flying into a rose bush where I caught it (I’m not a bird of prey specialist!). So when Andy reappeared from the tower, it was my turn to climb the 198 steps with the peregrine struggling in its box.

Unlike previous years, all the juveniles made good progress and by 10th July, a juvenile was seen to bring in its own prey and by August, most of the juveniles were spending much of the day hunting away from the church, often returning noisily in the late afternoon. It’s likely that in another few weeks, views of the juveniles will be few and far between, so as I write this on 21st August, we can look back on a successful year.

Noted for the first time in Louth, our resident peregrines showed extreme territorial aggression towards any common buzzard within sight of the peregrines’ nest or the juveniles. We knew the peregrines in Exeter had brought down 21 buzzards in 190 attacks over a 6-month period, but it was the sight from our garden of the pair working together to attack and kill a buzzard passing near the church on 13th June that prompted us to log such events. In the following three weeks, 11 incidents were noted and the attacks only stopped when the juveniles were confidently flying.

For more information on Louth’s peregrines, or to purchase the booklet, visit:

Geoff Mullett

Wednesday, 7 October 2020


I've never seen a bullfinch, Pyrrhula pyrrhula, in my garden (I've lived here 33 years). They may be common in other places but I've have hardly ever seen one, and I'm pretty rubbish at bird identification anyway. I assumed bullfinches look like these. But of course those are just the brightly coloured males. So when two birds turned up, one with distinct markings and the other rather drab, I thought at first they were a male and female of I knew not what. And then I realised. This was no pair but a mother and child, a female and juvenile bullfinch. There are pictures showing the difference on the BTO website. And lots of other information

Anyway here are my ones, photographed through my kitchen window. They were eating honetsuckle berries and got through about half a dozen each, which I thought quite an achievement considering their relative sizes, before flying off to a neaby hawthorn to have a go at the berries there.
Biff Vernon

Friday, 10 April 2020

Good morning fellow Louth Area Group members

I hope that you are all keeping well. Despite the frustration of not being able to visit our wonderful Lincolnshire countryside Jane and I have been enjoying the sunny days in the garden. The dawn chorus lasts nearly all day with great tits, chaffinches and blackbirds claiming their territories. We shall miss the ‘Cowslips of Coronation Meadow’ display this year but we have wildflowers and butterflies galore in our drive and garden.


As you are aware all LWT activities that involve personal contact have been postponed until a future date. The LAG AGM was scheduled for 24 April 2020. Rather than plan another date for the Autumn the committee made a case to the LWT for conducting the 2020 AGM by email. This was approved by Paul Learoyd, CEO of the LWT, on 3 March 2020. This move will enable the new committee to become operational early in May.

To date nominations for the 2020/2021 committee are Chairman Biff Vernon, Secretary Jan Boyd, Treasurer Rod Baddon together with Louise Scott, Judith John and Chris Henderson.

The LAG Constitution paragraph 4 tells us that the AGM is held for the election of committee members, for the receipt and consideration of the Chairman’s report and for the receipt and consideration the Financial statement. You will receive AGM documents for consideration and decision by email on 24 April.

In an email to all Area Group committee members on 9 April the CEO asked that group members be given 14 days warning of any changes to the group’s AGM arrangements. Consequently, I am sending this notification by email to the 75 members of the Group who have provided me with their email addresses. It will also be published on the LAG Facebook page and on the blog that forms part of our website. If you are a LAG member and not on my list and you would like to take part in this unprecedented AGM, please contact me on

You may like to know that only 25 members attended the 2019 AGM which was reported in the 2019 Summer Newsletter. Let me know if you would like a copy of the Minutes of that meeting, a copy of the LWT LAG Constitution or if you would like to be nominated as a committee member.


Part of the proceedings at the April 2020 meeting was to have been a short presentation about the Group since 1970 followed by cake and coffee. I have attached a summary of the history of the group. I fear that you will have to provide your own cake and coffee.

Keep safe and keep in touch

Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area Group LWT 10 April 2020

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Hello fellow LAG members

The peregrines are nesting on the church spire; occasionally we see them overhead particularly when they are being mobbed by raucous gulls. Our first cowslip flower blossomed on 16 March whilst the verges of our drive have a ground covering of self-seeded violets, wild arum, ivy-leaved speedwell and sticky willy. Small tortoiseshell. peacock, comma and brimstone butterflies are fluttering around looking for pollen. The three hedgehogs that appear each night on the trail camera are busy feeding and feuding. 
It was decided to ask LWT to send the LAG copies of Spring Lapwings magazines out by post. As the LWT HQ at Horncastle has now closed, it may be some time before we see the Spring 2020 edition.
Although we are all house bound and garden bound there is still plenty to see. Take a close look at the garden birds. Is it a dunnock or a sparrow? Try to identify the insects on the emerging spring flowers.  How many species of bee did you see? 
If you are not on Ray's email list and would like further information about the group's activities including a Spring quiz, please contact him on
Keep safe
Ray Woodcock  Chairman Louth Area Group LWT

Watch Group
With schools and Watch Groups closing, it has been suggested that some parents might like to log on to the this from the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, to find ideas for wildlife activities for children.
Best Wishes


Saturday, 14 March 2020


The COVID-19 Virus is affecting our lives in so many ways and we must take measures to keep it under control. Consequently, the LAG committee members have decided to cancel the 27 March speaker meeting. Please will you inform other members who might attend a LAG meeting of this decision. We will decide the fate of the 24 April AGM and meeting in due course.
On a happier note, three hedgehogs were fighting in our garden last evening whilst a Greenfinch sings its one note song from the top of a fir tree most mornings.
Do take care.
Best wishes
Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area Group, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust

Monday, 2 March 2020

Watch meeting Sunday March 15th

Details of our next meeting:-
We hope that you will join us for our popular Treasure Hunt in Hubbard's Hills on Sunday March 15th. 
Use your skills to find and solve our nature clues and win some Treasure.
We will meet near Hubbard's Hills cafe at  2pm , LN11 0QW.
Children must be accompanied by an adult. The event is free.
We hope to see you there.
Best Wishes


Saturday, 29 February 2020

Wildlife Spectacles - Steve Lovell

Friday 28th February 2020

Steve Lovell has spent the last couple of decades photographing British wildlife and leading guided tours to see the spectacles on offer not far from our own backyards. From the Lincolnshire Wash to the Scottish Isles, we were treated to pictures of the enormous range of wildlife available to watch for those with the patience. And with each photo came a little piece of information that made one sit up and realise how much there still is to learn.

From seals in the Welland to reindeer in the Cairngorms, from a hundred thousand starlings to a black winged stilt, from Irish hares on Mull to Chinese water-deer in Norfolk, the richness of British fauna cannot be overstated.

With frogs spawning in February is Steve's garden pond to white mountain hares with no snow to hide on, climate change poses multiple challenges for our wildlife. Of immediate and urgent concern is the deliberate persecution of wildlife. Steve talked about still legal hare culls in Scotland, illegal hare coursing in Lincolnshire and equally illegal but covertly condoned killing of raptors on grouse moors.

Steve's take home message was to stay close to home; that to enjoy wildlife spectacles there is no need to fly to foreign lands; there is enough on and around the British Isles to last a lifetime.

Black winged Stilt from Guardian article

Find out more about what Steve Lovell can offer from his website.

The Sea and Me - talk be Tammy Smalley

Friday 31st January 2020

Tammy Smalley, Head of Conservation at the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, gave us a talk entitled The Sea and Me. She told her autobiographical story of growing up near Skegness, steeped in the local environment of coastal Lincolnshire with the sea a dominant influence, how she came to learn so much about the complexity and variety of wildlife beneath the waves and took her knowledge to Whitehall to argue the case for better protection of the marine environment.

We were treated to a dazzling sequence of pictures of some of the less well-known creatures in our neighbourhood, the Sabellaria reefs, honeycomb worms, brittle stars, sea slugs and many more.

Tammy emphasised the importance of government policy, getting the new agricultural agreements right, for habitats on land and at sea for wildlife and for global heating mitigation. She emphasised the important examples of lowland peat lands and saltmarsh, more valuable than forest, for carbon sequestration, and the need to protect unique but largely unknown habitats such as the Silver Pit, a deep area of the North Sea to the south of the Dogger Bank once a deep lake, thousands of years ago when sea level was lower and much of the North Sea was dry land.

For anyone who missed this talk, you missed a treat. Tammy's self deprecating humour and wit are the perfect counterfoil for the seriousness of her science-backed message to those in positions of power and influence.

Saturday, 22 February 2020


Our 28 February meeting will be ‘WILDLIFE SPECTACLES’, some fantastic scenes by STEVE LOVELL, wildlife photographer and nature guide. We begin at 7.30pm at the Nichol Hill Methodist Church, Louth. Entry, including refreshments £2.50. Children free.

Our Annual General Meeting will be on 24 April when there will be cake! There is a need for at least a couple of you to volunteer to join the committee. The tasks are not onerous, we hold 3 meetings a year to discuss and plan the programme for the following year. The only commitment is to help to run the indoor meetings; most of you attend these so it would only be a matter of arriving before the 7.30 pm start time.
In the past people stayed on the committee for a long time; no-one expects you to do a 27 year stint! I set myself 5 years and will be leaving after 6 years. If you are prepared to consider a year to see ’how it goes’, you will be most welcome. Please contact me for any further details on

I am sure that we are all delighted with longer days and no snow – yet! Two hedgehogs have come back after a 3 week break whilst the night camera is picking up moths in flight. I have heard a greenfinch and a great tit singing for nearly a week and of course the snowdrops, aconites and daffodils are in bloom.
On 7 February Jane and went to have a look at the LWT Huttoft Bank Pit hide. The sun was shining, and it was a great pleasure to sit drinking our coffee out of the wind. A few mallards and moorhens were dodging in and out of the reeds when a flurry of activity caught our attention. A wisp of 8 snipe circled and settled on a reed patch about 3 metres from the hide whilst a further dozen snipe continued to circle and then settled elsewhere. Wow!

Best wishes
Ray Woodcock
Chairman Louth Area Group, LWT

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Report on Louth Watch Meeting Sunday 16th February

The Louth Watch leaders were pleased that three children braved the wind and rain from storm Dennis to attend their meeting in Spout Yard,  Louth on Sunday afternoon February 16th.
The children mounted all the pressed flowers that had been collected the previous June from the meadow at LRAC, Kenwick. They added their own drawings, folklore and other information about the  plants. The results will be added to the Watch collection.
They still had time to each make a  mobile, depicting the life cycle of a dandelion. They made and planted seeds in paper potters as well as writing their names in cress seeds. They also had time to try the 'Name the Flower' game.
Overall it was a very busy, enjoyable meeting.

Friday, 7 February 2020

WATCH group

At our next meeting on Sunday 16th February
we will be mounting our own flower collection, picked in the meadow at Kenwick LRAC last June.
We will be adding interesting facts and illustrations, so would like everybody to contribute. 
The specimens will become part of the special Watch collection.
There will also be lots of  art and craft activities to enjoy.
Don't forget to let us know about any birds, animals and flowers that you may have spotted recently.
We will be meeting in Spout Yard Gallery in Louth starting at 2pm until about 4pm.
Children must be accompanied by an adult. The event is free.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Report on Louth Watch Meeting 19-1-20

Louth Watch group met at Spout Yard Park to find out more about compost.

As children arrived they were able to chose to fill in a word search, colouring or crossword.
We started the meeting asking if the children had seen any interesting wildlife and reminded them about the Big Garden Birdwatch.

We then moved outside into the park area where James Pocklington told us about the value of compost and demonstrated how to make a Rotbot. He used a 2 litre plastic bottle with the top cut off and a few drainage holes in the bottom. He showed us how to build up layers of shredded paper, vegetable pieces, small twigs and fruit scraps in the bottle. After a few weeks seeds could be planted on the resulting compost.

Before going inside we located and examined the Spout Yard compost bins. Indoors the children enjoyed exploring the piles of compost that James had brought in, from different sources. They searched for minibeasts and examined and identified them under digital microscopes, other microscopes and magnifiers. They were excited to find worms, woodlice, centipedes, beetle larvae, ants and snails.

The children then made and took home some very good plasticine models of the minibeasts they had found. They were also given a rotbot bottle to fill at home and some seeds to sow in the resulting compost.

Overall it was a very enjoyable and educational afternoon.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020


A ‘Happy New Year’ to you all and a Happy 50th Birthday to the Louth Group.
Our first meeting of 2020 will be given by the dynamic Tammy Smalley, Head of LWT Conservation. Her topic will be ‘The Sea and Me’ at 7.30pm on Friday 31 January at the Nichol Hill Methodist Church, Louth. Entry, including refreshments is £2.50; children have free entry
I wonder whether we shall have any cold weather to balance out the wet months of late 2019. We already have Primroses and Snowdrops in the garden whilst at least one hedgehog turns up very night for its Spike and sultanas. We have also seen the return of the Common gull with a deformed leg for the third year in succession.
The Pink-footed geese and Brent geese are still providing dawn and dusk flockings on the coast but nearly all the seals have left Donna Nook. There were 2,186 pups born this year which is an increase of 5.4% on 2019. Not all these creatures survive; it is estimated that 20% of pups do not live for longer than a year.
The busiest and possibly smelliest day at Donna Nook was 6 December when there were 466 bulls, 997 cows and 2135 pups to be seen. The seals have a very busy time whilst they are on the marshes. The cows give birth and suckle the pups who grow rapidly and turn from cream to grey before heading out to sea. The huge bulls roar and fight for the attention of the cows who are often still suckling their pups. They mate – quite a spectacle – they have no modesty and some visitors claim to be offended by this behaviour within a few feet of the boundary fence.
They soon start to leave, so the beach is virtually empty by late December when the seals return to the sea and start to feed again and when the stoical volunteer seal wardens and LWT staff have time for a rest.
Please remember to take part in the RSPB Great Garden Birdwatch scheduled for 25 and 26 January. Report forms will be in the national press as well as being on the RSPB website.
Best wishes
Ray Woodcock Chairman Louth Area Group, LWT