All posts by David Rowell

Turtle dove success

For months now a team of Langdyke volunteers have been laying feed at the Etton Maxey reserve in the hope of encouraging turtle doves to breed.

There have been several sightings of the birds – proof that the project has been a success.

These photos taken by John Parsonage are proof.  Great images captured near the Etton Maxey reserve car park.


Richard on TV talking nature

Langdyke chairman Richard Astle has been outlining an ambitious project to boost nature in his role as the chair of Natural Cambridgeshire.

Due to the rapid pace of development in the county, less than a 10th of the available land is currently designated as a wildlife habitat or natural space, and that is having an impact on health and the economy.

A new project hopes to double the amount of green space in Cambridgeshire.  You can see Richard talking about the project in an ITV Anglia News interview by clicking here


July in pictures

It’s been a battle of the Emperors to find the best photographs taken by members and uploaded to our Facebook site during  July … to be precise the emperor dragonfly species.

We have two great shots of the dragonfly – or blue emperor as it is known – taken near the pond at Swaddywell Pit nature reserve.

The first was taken by Steve Zealand.

Emperor Dragonfly at Swaddywell Photo: Steve Zealand




Days later Duncan Kirkwood captured this image at virtually the same spot.

An Emperor Dragonfly at Swaddywell Pit. Photo by Duncan Kirkwood

Our image of the month for July (top) is of a juvenile Grasshopper perched on a Crested cow-wheat at Castor Hanglands.  It was taken by Sarah Lambert.

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 July.

During a special visit to Marholm Field Bank – the latest reserve that Langdyke has ‘adopted’ for a bit of love and attention  Kathryn Parsons photographed this rare Green Hairstreak caterpillar.

A rare Green Hairstreak caterpillar found at Marholm Field Bank Photo: Kathryn Parsons


And July wouldn’t be July without signs of a glowworm. They can be found in a large number of places, but one of the spots to definitely see them is Barnack Hills and Holes.  This picture was taken by Michael Jarman.

A glowworm at Barnack Hills and Holes Photo: Michael Jarman

Support museum idea

Langdyke trustee David Cowcill is calling on members and supporters to submit items for the Museum of Objects.

As a permanent record of the 20th Anniversary, the Trust will publish a book in September (to coincide with the Annual Meeting) showcasing the work of 2019 Artist in Residence Kathryn Parsons, who has so far engaged over 300 people with her art project and innovative “plant printing” techniques. 

Some results were on display in situ on the Etton-Maxey reserve a couple of weeks ago. 

Also in the book will be a Langdyke Museum of Objects – an attempt to capture an image and descriptive record of the items that trigger people’s thoughts of (and responses to) the natural world of John Clare Country.

David said: “We have been collecting ideas from the general public at all the recent anniversary events, and now want to throw open the process to all the members too. 

“So – please take a look at the attached invitation to submit an object (and within reason it can be ANY object that brings to mind our wonderful natural environment) – and to share your thoughts with others and for the future. “

The deadline for the book is getting close, so if possible please send the form before July 24 to

The form is below:

C4’s local bee campaign

Members of Langdyke may be interested to know that Channel 4 TV have commissioned a “Bee Campaign” for the Peterborough area.

Trust members and reserve managers have long understood that the insect world underpins many of the sights and sounds we enjoy.

The variety of habitats and plants we host encourages a huge variety of ”wild” insects and invertebrates, with an equally wide following  amongst members – judging by the Facebook images and “what is this” dialogues.

In the past 12 months, LCT have created 3 pallet-size bug hotels on the reserves, and also host several hives of domesticated pollinators at Etton – honey bees!

However the overall insect population is in decline. 

In addition to an expected loss of familiar birds (swifts, martins and swallows for example), it is also claimed that the consequent loss of pollination is a significant threat to world-wide and UK agriculture. 

It is in this context that Channel 4 TV have commissioned a “Bee Campaign”. In the best citizen science way, this will kick off with a “baseline count” led by a personality (in this case Jimmy Doherty of Jimmy’s Farm fame, pictured above) to take place in Peterborough on Thursday  July 18 and requiring lots of volunteers.

To take part, please contact the TV production company via  or by phone to 0141 343 7782.



Visit to Bainton Heath

There is another opportunity to visit the unique Bainton Heath which is not open to the public.

A guided walk on Sunday, July 21 will give you the chance to see the unique content of this site, which includes a small wood and a large pond.

It is a former landfill site filled entirely with fly ash from northern coal-fired powerstations and the railways in the 1960s.

As a result many species of moss and lichen grow there which are not natural to Cambridgeshire – but are more northerly species.

The landfill area has grown over with dense scrub to the north gradually thinning out to open grassland in the south with some bare patches with lichens growing directly on the fly ash.

It is surrounded on three sides by mature mixed woodland with a good variety of large trees and shrubs.

It is currently the home of National Grid and supports two electricity distribution systems and a sub-station. Ironically, the tall pylons have become a home for wildlife.

As a result it is not open to the public and visits can only be made there for events like this one.

If you would like to take part please meet at the Torpel site at 2pm.  The plan is to drive from there to Bainton in as few cars as possible.

June in pictures

It’s been a fabulous month for nature across all of our reserves and this photo focus is a tribute to the skills of our members and Facebook friends.

Our image of the month for June hasn’t been taken by a member this time – it was snapped by Langdyke’s recently purchased trail camera.

It can be left positioned out to capture nature in all its glory.  And on this occasion  it was left near the pond at Swaddywell when this hare emerged after a refreshing dip.

The camera never stays in the same place for long.  So keep watching for more fabulous shots in future months. Thanks to Michael Jarman for the image.

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 June.

Steve Zealand was out at Etton-Maxey to capture the splendour of the summer solstice with this image.

Summer Solstice evening at Etton Maxey Photo: Steve Zealand



You can rely on Langdyke trustee and treasurer Brian Lawrence – a keen photographer – for some great images.  Here he has captured  a bee orchid and also just one of the hundreds – if not thousands – of pyramidal orchids at Etton-Maxey.

One of the hundreds – possibly thousands – of Pyramidal orchids at Etton-Maxey
A bee orchid at Etton-Maxey: Photo Brian Lawrence
















An early morning walk at Etton-Maxey resulted in Angela Trotter spotting boxing hares.  She didn’t manage to capture a photo – but this is one of the combatants.

Hare – Etton-Maxey: Photo: Angela Trotter



Here’s a wonderful picture of nature at work. Taken by Liam Boyle at Swaddywell

An amazing image from Swaddywell Photo: Liam Boyle









Summer means a haircut for the Langdyke flock of sheep.  This year it took place in early June after  the sheep had been rounded up from all the reserves and taken to Etton-Maxey. Most of them enjoyed the day – with the exception of a handful who refused to  play ball when Richard Astle, Mick Beeson and helpers tried to round them up.  They were sheared a few days later.

Sheep shearing time for the Langdyke flock Photo: Richard Astle
The sheep shearing team in action. Photo: Kathryn Parsons





And finally … come rain or shine the Langdyke teams of volunteers carry on the good work keeping the reserves in tip top condition.  Early June was noted for the rain.  Despite that the work carried on at Swaddywell as this photo by Sue Welch shows.
Ladies and gents – we salute you!

It’s wet – but the volunteers carry on with their work at Swaddywell regardless. Photo: Sue Welch

Visit to newest reserve

There is  a chance to visit Langdyke’s newest reserve – Marholm Field Bank, on Monday July 1 at 4pm.

There have been two work parties there over the winter, to take out all of the invasive scrub that was threatening to overshadow the amazing array of wildflowers that have established themselves there over the last thirty years.

The site is owned by Highways England and there is no public access, so this is one of those rare opportunities when visitors are able to get on site and have a look around to see just how much better the place is with all of the hard work.

Mike Horne says: “To help us celebrate the success, tea, coffee and cake will be served free of charge, and all you need to do is to turn up with a smile and enjoy wandering through a very lovely display of wildflowers. (Please email me if you’re not sure of the location.)” Mike.Horne@langdyke,

How to get there

If you’re driving, please park on the old Peterborough Road (down towards Ferry Bridge) and walk back up and over the bridge. The road verges near the site are also pretty amazing when it comes to orchids and other wildflowers, and it’d be too ironic for words if we managed to crush all the orchids and other amazing wildflowers on the verges by parking our cars on top of them when going along to appreciate all the orchids and other amazing wildflowers on the reserve!

Mike has recently been informed that the site has been entered into a national competition – the ‘Big Biodiversity Challenge’ award, by our friends at Kier, for all of the great work that’s been  done .Check out the link to the competitions website;

Friday evening at Torpel

A performance of Romeo and Juliet, music, morris dancing and poetry renditions are just some of the highlights of Friday’s Langdyke 20th anniversary celebrations at Torpel Manor Field.

The Lamphouse Theatre Suitcase Shakespeare presentation of Romeo and Juliet is likely to be one of the key highlights of the evening.

Romeo and Juliet


The event – the first of two over the weekend- is between 6pm and 9pm on the Torpel site at the edge of Helpston.

The plan is to enjoy a summer’s evening on the site of Roger de Torpel’s Norman manor house with music, drama, poetry and Morris dancing.  Bring a picnic and something to sit on.  We will be providing some drinks in return for donations – beer, wine and soft drinks.

The programme for the evening in the paddock area around the Cabin is subject to change, but will run something like this:

6pm Opening of event  

6-9pm Refreshments and bring your own picnic

6-9pm Langdyke exhibition

6-8pm Arts workshop  (members only) in  the cabin

6-630pm Music with Dave Maylor

630-7pm Morris Dancing

7pm Guided walk of Torpel, tour of meadow

7-720pm Poetry with Kealey Mills and friends

720-750pm Music with Dave Maylor

8- 820pm Poetry with Kealey Mills and friends Cabin area 

820pm- Romeo and Juliet extracts

9pm Close

Please note; Parking is restricted, with some spaces at the Helpston Garden Centre, but access to the field is strictly on foot (or by bike).

If you come by car, you will need to park either at the garden centre or in the village and walk up to the reserve, entering along through the pedestrian gate off King Street.

There are toilets on site.