Spectacular bird walk

Langdyke members are invited to Frampton Marsh – the premier RSPB Reserve in Lincolnshire – for a special walk on Saturday, February 1.

Located just south of the Haven on the River Witham, approximately five miles from Boston, the reserve consists of a number of freshwater scrapes and grasslands together with a large area of saltmarsh, bordering the Wash. 

During the winter months it is home to a large number of waterfowl and wading birds. In most winters the number of birds is breath-taking with over 6,000 Lapwing, 5,000 Golden Plover, 2,500 Brent Geese, and large numbers of Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal and Pintail.

Event organiser and leader Brian Lawrence says: “Geese such as Pink-footed are also occasionally found on the grass fields and in the last few winters a small number of Whooper Swans have over-wintered at Frampton.

“If the weather is good there is often a spectacular murmuration of Starling in the late afternoon. 

“The grass fields are also home to hunting Merlin and Peregrine and it is a wonderful spectacle to see the birds rises in great flocks as the Peregrine passes overhead. On the saltmarsh we often see Marsh and Hen Harrier as well as Short-eared Owl.”

The number of birds on the reserve is dictated by the tides as birds feed on the mud-flats of the Wash at lower tides before being driven off by the rising tide.

Brian says: “The best Saturday is February 1 as High tide is at 10:28. However this will require being at the Frampton by 10:30 and I therefore suggest that we need to leave Helpston by 9:30am.”

The walk will be lead by Brian, who is a volunteer at Frampton Marsh RSPB, and knows the reserve very well.

You can either meet at Helpston Post Office at 9:30am on February 1 or at the Car Park at Frampton RSPB (O.S. Grid TF356392) at 10:15 (approx).  (The nearest Post Code is PE20 1AY)

The paths are quite good but can be muddy in winter. There is one set of steps down from the sea-wall. There will be a walk of about 2.2 Miles (3.5Km), including stops in the three hides.

Frampton can be very cold, especially if the wind is from the North, North East or East, so you will need to wrap up well and stout boots will be needed. We will probably be out for 3 hours walking around the reserve. 

There is a visitors centre at Frampton which is heated, has toilets, and serves hot drinks, rolls, biscuits etc but no cafe.  Therefore if you are staying to the afternoon you’ll need to bring your own packed lunch. 

Entrance charge for the reserve is £2.00 per person or £1.00 per child. (RSPB members free).

If you are interested in coming to this wonderful reserve please contact Brian  on 07798 683503 or email treasurer@langdyke.org.uk 

Make a date:  Saturday February 1.
 (9:30am at Helpston Post Office or 10:15am at Frampton Reserve Car Park)(Nearest Post Code PE20 1AY)

Pictured above are Dunlin and Knot in flight. Photo: Brian Lawrence

December in pictures

This fantastic winter sunset was what greeted walkers who went for a bird-watching ramble around the Maxey-Etton reserve and nearby Cut earlier in December.

The picture was captured by Mick Thomson and we have chosen it as our image of the month for December.

Each month we select photographs taken by our members. They might not be technically perfect – but they sum up the events of that month. Here are some other images from December.

Participants on the walk, which was led by Bob Titman, were also treated to this spectacular starlings murmuration, captured by Angela Trotter.

The spectacular Starling murmuration over Etton Maxey; Photo: Angela Trotter

Winter is well and truly with us now and the colours in our reserves reflect that.

These Hawthorn berries make a vibrant statement in contrast to the other colours of the season.  They were spotted and photographed by Sarah Lambert during a visit to Swaddywell.

A seasonal view of Hawthorn berries on a bush at Swaddywell. Photo: Sarah Lambert

Sarah also took this image of Swaddywell in all of its winter glory.

The magnificence of Swaddywell in winter. Photo: Sarah Lambert

As usual our volunteers have carried on with their work on the reserves.

Clearing out a nest box was one of the tasks at Swaddywell when Kathryn Parsons came across this spider sheltering from the cold.

A spider found in a bird box at Swaddywell. Photo: Kathryn Parsons

As always there was plenty  of work to do during the month. A good bonfire helps clear space and keep the cold away from volunteers at the same time. This photo at Etton Maxey was taken by Keren Thomson,

Bonfire time at Etton Maxey during one of the Monday work parties. Photo Keren Thomson

A few days later similar clearing up duties were underway at Swaddywell in this image captured by Sue Welch.

Tidying up during a work party at Swaddywell. Photo: Sue Welch

The History and Archaeology group has also been busy on the Torpel Manor site, seen here making delicate repairs to an ancient wall. The photo was taken by Mary Purdon.

The History and Archaeology group busy on a wall on the Torpel Manor site. Photo: Mary Purdon

While we all sit down to enjoy our Christmas lunch let’s not forget the Trust’s flock of sheep – who work 24/7 to keep the grass down across all of our reserves.  They enjoyed an early Christmas feast during one of the work parties at Etton Maxey, tucking into some sugar beet. The occasion was captured by Kathryn Parsons,

Some of the Langdyke sheep enjoying a Christmas-time lunch of sugar beet. Photo: Kathryn Parsons







Events for 2020

A New Year means a new set of events are on offer from the Langdyke Countryside Trust.

2019 proved to be an exciting year with the organisation holding a number of celebratory events to make its 20th anniversary.

They included the launch of the Trust’s vision for nature, setting out a plan to preserve the heritage and landscape across John Clare Countryside in Tribland.  You can find details of the Trust’s Vision for Nature on the website here.

There were also events at the Torpel Manor site on the edge of Helpston and at the Etton Maxey nature reserve (pictured, above) as well as a series of arts workshops at groups and schools across the area.

In 2020 the Trust – which is a registered charity – will continue with its vital work, looking after its series of nature reserves across the area.

At the same time there are number of events open to all to attend. 

They include:

January 1: The traditional New Year’s Day walk, this year along the River Nene from a meeting point at Castor Church (1pm).

February 1: A visit to RSPB Frampton, near Boston with a chance to see winter waders, ducks and birds of prey. Meet outside Helpston Post Office at 9.30am.

April: An indoor evening talk on a wide range of local matters.  More details soon on the Trust website.

May 14: Evening walk around Castor Hanglands with a chance to hear the spectacular sound of the nightingale.

May 28:  Evening guided orchid walk at Southorpe Meadow and Barnack Hills and Holes.

June 9: Evening guided walk around Swaddywell Nature Reserve

June 27: Summer at Barnack Hills and Holes with guided walks and activities for young and old.

July 18: Afternoon walk around Old Sulehay Nature Reserve taking a look at all things botanical.

August: Summer holiday afternoon fun for all the family at Etton Maxey Nature Reserve.  All kinds of activities that will help the school holidays whizz past.

Families and individuals are welcome to attend any of the events.. Admission to them is free to Langdyke members.  Non-members are asked to make a small donation in the region of £3.  

Because of its charitable status the Trust is reliant on its teams of volunteers who meet weekly at Swaddywell and Etton.

New volunteers are always welcome. It gives you a chance to get out and enjoy the fresh air while at the same time supporting nature and carrying out tasks that will help to promote the natural world around us. The work is not too onerous and each working party ends with tea or coffee, a piece of cake and  a chance to chat.