September in pictures

Here’s an unusual shot – a Ramshorn snail enjoying the autumn sunshine (slowly, of course!) near the cabin at Swaddywell Pit nature reserve.

The photo – which we are making our image of the month for September – was taken by Duncan Kirkwood.

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

This Fox Moth caterpillar was spotted at Barnack Hills and Holes and photographed by Antony Mould.

Fox Moth caterpillar, Hills and Holes Photo: Antony Mould

Malcolm Hillier came across this Sallow Moth at Castor Hanglands.

Sallow Moth, Castor Hanglands Photo: Malcolm Hillier

And Angela Trotter caught this glimpse of a Small Heath Butterfly at Etton Maxey reserve.

Small Heath butterfly, Etton Maxey Reserve Photo: Angela Trotter

This deer has become  a regular sight at Etton Maxey, this time captured on camera by Steve Zealand.

Deer, Etton Maxey reserve Photo: Steve Zealand

Steve also took this shot of a rather grumpy looking Hebridean Ram – one of the Langdyke flock – having a rest after grazing Vergette Wood Meadow with his eight other mates, a mix of Jacob, Hebridean and Soay rams.

Hebridean Ram, Vergette Wood Meadow Photo: Steve Zealand

Doing an equally good job of cutting back the growth on our reserves were members of the Eastern Reserves work party.  Martin Parsons is seen here sharpening his scythe before having another go at the reed bed which needs some reduction.

Martin Parsons sharpening his scythe ahead of more reed cutting at Etton Maxey Photo: Keren Thomson

Our work parties have been busy on all of our reserves during September.

One of the tasks was painting and repairing the cabin at Torpel. Chris Grant and Cliff Stanton are busy in this shot taken by Anne Bell.

Chris Grant and Cliff Stanton working on the cabin at Torpel Photo: Anne Bell

Mike Horne took this photo of another work party – this time at Castor Hanglands. We are always looking for volunteers for our work parties.  They carry out a wide variety of essential tasks (all socially distanced to meet Coronavirus guidelines) and there are a good range of jobs to do. You can find out more about how to volunteer here

Work party at Castor Hanglands. Photo: Mike Horne

And finally … this month’s most unusual shot of the benefits of nature was taken by Claire Noble after a walk around Swaddywell with her four-year-old son who took his sword along (to the pit referred to as Swordywell by poet John Clare) just in case.

They collected blackberries and apples – and enjoyed this lovely crumble when they got home.

Blackberry and Apple crumble – baked after a walk around Swaddywell Photo: Claire Noble




Antony’s new role with us

Welcome to Antony Mould – a new Langdyke trustee and the board secretary.

As part of a new series on the website – Langdyke people – we asked him a few questions about himself.  Here are his answers …

Name: Antony Mould
Role in Langdyke: Board Secretary and Trustee
In your role with the Trust what areas do you specialise/lead in?Taking minutes! Aside from that I’m not really sure yet as I’ve only just become a Trustee.
What got you involved with the Trust?
My first encounter with Langdyke was via the Wildlife Trust, when I was trying to find a nature reserve where my brother-in-law could take school children to do some practical work for their Duke of Edinburgh Award. However, my first real involvement was in 2012, when I carried out a baseline reptile survey for the Trust at Swaddywell Pit.
Favourite place in nature:
Given the chance I would always go back to Alaska – the scale of true wildnerness out there is breath-taking. But back home in the real world, Castor Hanglands has always been a special place for me, going to listen to the nightingales with my dad. I live in Barnack, so I really do need to give a shout out to Hill and Holes too
What do you most love about nature?
Hmmm … octopuses are pretty cool. Or what about … how life has evolved and adapted to fill every little niche on our planet. There are millions of species out there, all with their own unique ways of life and individual stories to tell – it’s mind blowing.
Things that make you happy …
Crawling around in roof spaces and caves looking for bats. Listening to and identifying birds when I’m walking along, without realising I’m doing it. Finding long-tailed tit nests. Seeing all the different bugs and beasties that pop up in my scruffy little garden. Seeing my two small girls happily exploring when we’re out on a woodland walk
Things that really annoy you …
Questions like ‘what’s the point of wasps?’, and the underlying assumption that all things have a purpose that benefits us. Chris Packam did a really good segment on wasps recently, highlighting just how fascinating and misunderstood these animals really are.
What is your hope for nature in the next ten years?
I do find it difficult to be optimistic about the future, especially when you look at the state of nature globally. But at least climate change and wildlife extinction are now properly on the agenda. In the UK, I hope the changes to agricultural subsidies really do result in large-scale, long-term benefits for environment. I think that the emergence of ‘wilding’ is really exciting, and it’s encouraging to see landowners starting to embrace the idea

Online chats are back

The popular Langdyke online events are back after a quick break for August.

Justin Tilley

On Tuesday, September 29 we will be  In Conversation with … Justin Tilley of Natural England who will be talking about National Nature Reserves in John Clare Countryside. their history, management and future,

Both Barnack Hills and Holes (main picture, above) and Castor Hanglands have NNR status.

Justin is also a Langdyke trustee.

The online event starts at 7.30pm. The session will be using the Zoom conferencing system which is free and does not require you to load any software.  All you have to do is click on this link or copy it into your web browser

Please note the link will not work until the meeting starts.

Future online events will include a conversation with butterfly expert Susannah O’Riordan who is project officer for the Back from the Brink Roots of Rockingham project and Professor Simon Kovesi of the Oxford Brookes University Department of Literature on John Clare poetry and nature.

Castor Hanglands in the Spring. Photo: Martin Parsons


More on our plans

Ambitious plans to double  the area of rich wildlife habitats and natural green space in the Langdyke area and beyond are continuing.

The plan – including the John Clare Countryside vision – was featured in a recent Peterborough Telegraph article.  You can read it here

There is more information on our website here

The main photo of a Common Blue was taken by Brian Lawrence.

Great fen project appeal

The wildlife trust is looking for volunteers to help plant a few plants – well 200,000 of them to be precise.

And the organisation is appealing to Langdyke members to see if they are willing to get involved.

It is part of a Great Fen Water Works project to carry out wet farming planting.

The local branch of the Wildlife Trust is creating  field scale trials of wet farming to test innovative new crops for food, healthcare and industry, and to lock in carbon.  A large part of the project will be working with local farmers, food producers and landowners to create and test this new way of farming and to share lessons learned along the way.

The Trust’s Rachel Price said: “We’re looking for small groups, so if anyone would like to come along, please ask them to contact me at It would be super if there were four or five Langdyke members to form a group.”

The Trust hopes to start planting this month  through to the end of November (weather and ground conditions allowing).

Ideally, the Trust is looking for a small group of volunteers who could mainly work in the week and due to the complications of Covid-19 it can only offer whole days, 10am – 3pm, not half days.

By taking part in this project members can take positive action for Climate Change, protecting peat soils, locking in carbon and cleaning water, as well as helping to create wet habitats to benefit wildlife.

More details on the Wildlife Trust website here and here



A surprise find

A small mammal survey on two Langdyke reserves at Etton and Maxey came up with a surprise find.

Steve and Liz Lonsdale, who are licensed to carry out the surveys found two house mice – not the type of mouse normal found outside – alongside the allotment area at Etton’s High Meadow.

A number of wood mice were found at both reserves as well – including the one in the main picture above.

Steve busy checking one of the traps

Steve explained: “The House Mice were unexpected – nowadays they are only found near grain stores or chicken farms. 

“It is possible that they have been introduced into the allotment area as part of a chicken manure or other delivery.”

The surveys were conducted at High Meadow and in North Wood at Etton Maxey Pits – the first time this area has been surveyed.
Liz Lonsdale recording the weight of one of the finds

At High Meadow 42 Longworth ‘live traps’ were set on the evening of Saturday August 22, and checked at 12 hourly intervals until the morning of Monday August 24.

32 of the traps were set in pairs around the edge of the north-eastern meadow, and the remaining 10 in pairs around the barn and allotment. There was a reasonable capture rate of a variety of species: wood mice, field voles and common shrew but Bank voles proved elusive.

Sunday Morning: 10 Wood Mice; 1 Bank Vole
Sunday Evening: 1 Field Vole; 6 Common Shrews; 1 Pygmy Shrew
Monday Morning: 12 Wood Mice (including 2 recaptures); 2 House Mice; 12 Common Shrews (including 3 recaptures).
The high catch rates and low recapture rates indicate a good population of Wood Mice and Common Shrews.

Etton-Maxey – Saturday  August29 to Monday  August 31
14 Longworth ‘live traps’ were set on the Saturday , and a further 28 on that evening.  The traps were checked at 12 hourly intervals until the morning of Monday August 31. The traps were set in three groups in north meadow.

Saturday Evening: 2 Field Voles;
Sunday Morning: 5 Field Voles (inc 2 recaptures); 1 Common Shrew; 9 Wood Mice
Sunday Evening 4 Field Voles (inc 3 recaptures); 3 Common Shrews (inc 1 recapture); 2 Wood Mice (inc 1 recapture);
Monday Morning: 3 Field Voles (inc 1 recapture); 6 Common Shrews (inc 1 recapture); 6 Wood Mice (inc 3 recaptures); Catch rates were marginally higher than expected, which would indicate good populations of small mammals.  

Steve and Liz have been surveying for mammals (and small mammals in particular) for more than 30 years, starting in Derbyshire, where they had significant input into the Derbyshire Mammal Atlas, and for the last five years around here since we moved to Maxey.

Steve said: “Most of the surveys we do are in sites chosen by us where we think it would be productive /useful to have some idea of the species present, sometimes as part of national surveys, sometimes as part of local surveys or for local groups, and sometimes on our own to generate useful records.
“Where appropriate we approach the landowner / wildlife group (in this case Langdyke CT) for permission to survey, but the responsibility for the session lies with us. All our records (not just specific survey records) are fed into (what is now), iRecord, where they are visible to all iRecord users, and also to the local wildlife group / landowner as appropriate.
“In order to survey using live traps for small mammals, including shrews, we have to hold a licence. Where others are present who do not have a licence we are responsible for the welfare of the animals being surveyed for.
“Live trapping can be done at any time of year, and indeed some groups do so throughout the year. However, our methodology is to check the traps every 12 hours, and to do so in daylight we only trap between April and September.”
Most  of the live traps they use (‘Longworths’) are made of aluminium and so, even while bedding and food are supplied within them, they can be cold overnight in winter.
“Our methodology is to set traps in an evening session, and check them the following morning, evening, and again the following morning (ie 1 session to set and 3 to check).
“Small mammals vary in their habits, and so we expect different species in the morning and evening sessions; some animals are ‘trap-shy’, so they take longer to catch, hence the 3 checking sessions rather than 1.

August in pictures

We’re celebrating the final colours of the summer with our collection of images from August.

Flowers, a kingfisher, butterflies, moths and even a wasp feature in the photos taken and posted by members of our Facebook group during the month.

But we have chosen this wonderful shot of a Chalkhill Blue on a plant at the Barnack Hills and Holes reserve as our image of the month.  It was taken by Liam Boyle.

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

The most unusual shot of the month was taken by Steve Lonsdale of this water vole at the Etton Maxey reserve. It was taken using a night camera.

A water vole captured on a night camera by Steve Lonsdale

It’s good news that evidence of water vole activity has been discovered at several points across the reserve.

There have been several sightings at the reserve of a roe deer.  This image was captured by Angela Trotter.

Roe deer, Etton Maxey reserve Photo: Angela Trotter

Other photos taken at Etton Maxey during the month included this yellow wagtail seen by Steve Zealand.

Yellow wagtail, Etton Maxey Photo: Steve Zealand

And Brian Lawrence captured this shot of a lesser black-backed gull.

Lesser black-backed gull, Etton Maxey. Photo: Brian Lawrence

The nearby Maxey Cut was the venue for this shot of a Kingfisher by Angela Trotter.

A kingfisher along the Maxey Cut. Photo: Angela Trotter

There were some lovely flowers on display during the month.

Harebell, Hills and Holes Photo: Sarah Lambert
Black Medick, Etton Maxey reserve Photo: Kathryn Parsons
Autumn gentian, Hills and Holes Photo: Sarah Lambert
Small scabious sed head, Hills and Holes Photo: Sarah Lambert

Moth trapping and spotting has become a popular pastime for a number of Langdyke members.  Malcolm Hillier took this photo f a Webb’s Wainscott moth while out with a group of Langdyke friends.

Webb’s Wainscott moth, Malcolm Hillier

It’s not every month that we could include a shot of something as common as a wasp.  But the great colours in this image – captured by Duncan Kirkwood – make it a striking photo.

Wasp, Swaddywell, Photo: Duncan Kirkwood

And finally, work parties have returned on Langdke’s reserves following the long Coronavirus lockdown.  Special socially distanced measure are in place with tools and equipment being cleaned and gloves worn to keep the volunteers as safe as possible.

In this image Mick Thomson can be seen tidying up the fringes of the community orchard after it was flailed by commercial contractors.

Tidying the orchard at Etton High Meadow Photo: Keren Thomson

And here’s an example of the type of work that parties undertake.  This is a new stile installed at the Swaddywell reserve by Malcolm Holley and Peter Leverington.  You can find more information about becoming a Langdyke volunteer on our website here