All posts by David Rowell

Time Team expert is guest

A leading member of the hugely popular Time Team archaeology programme  is our next online guest speaker.

A conversation with Francis Pryor will take place on Wednesday, July 15 at 5pm using the Zoom conferencing platform.

Francis will no doubt be asked about his work as the lead archaeologist on the ‘dig’ at the site of what is now Langdyke’s Etton Maxey Pits nature reserve.

His work has seen him excavate several major sites, mostly in the Fens.

As he explains in a blog on his website: “I’ve tried to bring archaeology to a wider audience, with a number of books, radio and television programmes, of which Time Team is the best known.”

When not writing or digging, Francis is also a sheep farmer and keen gardener. He has a farm in the area.

His love of the Fens – together with his work excavating sites across the area – is the subject of a recent book The Fens – Discovering England’s Ancient Depths.

He is an expert in the Bronze and Iron Ages in Britain , his most famous discovery being the Flag Fen site on the outskirts of Peterborough.

He was awarded an MBE in the 1999 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to tourism.

To join the online conversation with Francis you can click here or paste this into your browser

You do not need to download any new software.  Please note that the link will not work until the session starts at 5pm on July 15.

Annual meeting is online




The Langdyke annual meeting – postponed earlier this year because of the Coronavirus lockdown – is to be held as an online event on Wednesday, July 22 at 5pm.

Access to the meeting will be via the Zoom conferencing system.  The link for the meeting, which is only open to members,  is here:

All members have to do to attend is click on the link. You do not need to download any software.  Please note the link will not be active until 5pm on the day of the meeting.

If you have not seen the annual review for 2019 you can download a copy from the website here 

In the meantime, Treasurer Brian Lawrence has an important message about business at the meeting in relation to the election and re-election of Trustees.

  • He writes:

    “Under the new scheme of governance set up when the Langdyke Countryside Trust became a registered charity there is a Board of Trustees, responsible for managing the Trust, including deciding what the Trust should be doing and how it should spend the money it raises. Although there can be up to twelve trustees on the Board, we currently have three vacancies for new trustees. Trustees are elected by the whole membership at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and serve, initially, for a three year period. They are eligible to seek re-election by the AGM at the end of their period in office. At the forthcoming AGM three trustees will be retiring, although two have agreed to seek re-election. However, we are looking to strengthen the representation of members on the Board of Trustees and are therefore looking for volunteers to step forward to serve as trustees.”What is involved in being a Trustee?
    All trustees sit on the Main Board of the Trust which meets six times throughout the year, normally every other month. Trustees also normally sit on one of the two programme committees, Conservation or People and Communities, or they sit on one of the Area Groups which cover the four areas in which the Trust works. These normally meet in the intervening months. The Main Board is the major decision making body for the trust setting the direction and objectives  as well as its policies, major procedures and budget for the programme committees and area groups to work to.  The most important functions of Trustees is to help set the direction of work and the objectives of the Trust. This is done through setting management plans, policies and by approving an annual budget to indicate how the resources of the Trust will be used in the forthcoming year. However, as Langdyke Countryside Trust has no staff and is run entirely by volunteers, trustees do get involved with the day-to day activities of the Trust. These could involve helping to arrange working parties on Trust reserves, organising events, such as meetings, or walks and other similar activities.
    If you would like further details about the duties and obligations of a Trust please see the excellent publication ‘The Essential Trustee” on the Charity Commission’s website here Who is eligible to be a Trustee?
    You must be a member of the Trust, with your subscription lfully paid at the time of the AGM, and you must be least 18 years old to be a trustee of  Langdyke Countryside Trust. You must also be interested in the objectives and work of the Trust. You must be properly appointed following the procedures. You must not act as a trustee if you are disqualified, unless authorised to do so by a waiver from the Charity Commission. The reasons for disqualification are: 
    • being bankrupt (undischarged) or having an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) 
    • having an unspent conviction for certain offences (including any that involve dishonesty or deception) 
    • being on the sex offenders’ register.

    If you have any doubt about your eligibility you can contact Brian Lawrence (Hon. Treasurer) or read the notes on automatic disqualification guidance for charities, published on the Charity Commission’s website, which explains the disqualification rules in more detail. 
    if you would like to volunteer to become a Trustee you will need to get your completed nomination form to Brian Lawrence (email : by Monday July 20If you would like to consider becoming a trustee, you can discuss it further with either the Chair of the trust, Richard Astle, at or the Treasurer, Brian Lawrence, at, who will  answer any queries and explain the nomination procedure.

June in pictures

June was the month when the Coronavirus lockdown was eased a little and many of us had the chance to get out and enjoy the countryside.

It was a month in which nature did its best to give us great displays – whether it was in the form of insects, birds or flowers.

This Silver-washed fritillary butterfly (above) was spotted by Cliff Stanton at Castor Hanglands.  We’ve chosen it as our image of the month for June.

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

There were a number of great butterfly pictures taken at our reserves during the month.

This marbled white was spotted at Barnack Hills and Holes and photographed by Steve Lonsdale.

Marbled White, Hills and Holes Photo: Steve Lonsdale

And this Little Skipper image was captured by Paula Mason at Castor Hanglands.

Little Skipper, photographed at Castor Hanglands by Paula Mason

Meanwhile Angela Trotter took this shot of a Comma basking in the sunshine at Etton

Comma butterfly, Etton
Photo: Angela Trotter

Visitors to Etton Maxey will probably have seen one of several Brown Hares chasing across the reserve.  This one was seen and photographed by Martin Browne.

Brown Hare, Etton Maxey Pit
Photo: Martin Browne

Equally impressive was this shot of a magnificent deer taken by John Parsonage.

Deer Photo: John Parsonage

A red kite resting in a tree at Castor Hanglands caught the eye and camera of Steve Zealand.

Red Kite, Castor Hanglands Photo: Steve Zealand

There were a number of floral displays which attracted attention as well.  Here are some of them.

Southern Marsh orchid, Southorpe Meadow Photo: Mitchell Pearce
St Johns Wort, Swaddywell Pit Photo: Kevin Eldred
Mountain everlasting, Hills and Holes Photo: Chris Gardiner
Dark Mullein, Barnack Hills and Holes Photo: Sarah Lambert

Ian Wilson was out and about when he saw this Shoulder striped Wainscot moth at Swaddywell.

Shoulder-striped Wainscot photographed at Swaddywell by Ian Wilson

And finally, we couldn’t resist this photo. Steve Zealand forgot to put out food in the usual spot for his visiting hedgehog. The spiky fellow must have been put out because the next morning Steve found a gentle reminder not to forget again … in the form of some poo!





Kathryn’s art goes online

You can savour the beauty of Langdyke’s reserves as part of an online art exhibition over the next few weekends.

The Trust’s artist in residence Kathryn Parsons is holding a virtual open studio event on three Saturdays –  June 27 and  July 4 and 11.

You can view a video she has made to coincide with the first day here

Details of the events in general can be found on Facebook at

Kathryn Parsons

Kathryn explains here how she intends to beat the lockdown restrictions by taking her Open Studio online and how you can join her ‘virtually’ this year …


At this time of year, I’m normally putting in place final preparations for the Langdyke Countryside Trust’s Open Day, followed by two weekends of Peterborough Artists’ Open Studios … obviously things are rather different this time around. 

So, rather than miss out on sharing what I’ve been doing, and all the wonderful conversations and connections that happen at these marvellous events, I’ve decided to hold a ‘Virtual Open Studio’…. it’s very exciting, particularly as it’s not something I’ve done before!  

Tern rafting: By Kathryn Parsons

Starting on Saturday June 27, I’ll be posting on social media a little differently to normal, creating a virtual open studio with photographs and video of my work, my studio and some of Langdyke’s nature reserves too. 

It’ll run for three weekends with a different theme each weekend.   


The focus for Saturday, June 27 will be my work as Langdyke’s Artist in Residence.  We’ll visit one of Langdyke’s reserves and go treasure-hunting for small details.  I’ll show you some of my latest artworks and past favourites that have been inspired by these history-rich and wildlife-abundant places.

On Saturday July 4, I hope you’ll join me for a behind-the-scenes tour of my studio!  I’ll share some of the inspiration and stories that inspire my art, as well as favourite tools and techniques.

Plans for  July 11 are still being formed, so if you have anything you’d particularly like to see please let me know!  

My virtual open studio will happen on my Facebook Page (which can be viewed even if you don’t have a Facebook account).  You’ll be able to comment and ask me questions about my work – and I’d love to hear your stories of the places and wildlife that you love. 

Please note that due to the algorithms Facebook uses, even if you’ve “Followed” my page already you’re not guaranteed to see my posts – so it’s probably also a good idea to pop back every so often to make sure you don’t miss anything!

Some of the artworks I’ll be showing you will be available for purchase, and all sales during this time will be included as part of the Artist Support Pledge.  This is a wonderful artist-led response to the pandemic and the difficulties that many artists and makers are currently facing (with most of our exhibitions, fairs and teaching cancelled).  The idea is that artists offer their work for purchase, and every time they reach £1000 of sales they pledge to spend £200 on another artist’s work.  It’s a beautiful idea, and means the generosity of the people buying the artwork spreads and is shared with others…. the love and generosity keeps flowing.

I very much hope you’ll be able to join me at my Virtual Open Studio- it’ll be great to see you there!

Trust boss is next speaker

Langdyke’s online conversations are growing in popularity – giving supporters the chance to hear the view of leading figures from the comfort of their own home.

Our next guest is Brian Eversham, chief executive of the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

He will be online from 5pm on Wednesday, July 1.  To join the conversation all you have to do is click on the link at the bottom of this story.

His conversation with us is the latest in a series which have included Gardener’s World presenter and Langdyke patron Adam Frost, wildlife artist and John Clare expert Carry Akroyd and birder and nature journalist Josh Jones.

Brian heads up an organisation caring for more than 100 nature reserves, covering more than 4000 hectares, and carrying out important conservation work across ancient landscapes.

He was among the speakers  at Langdyke’s 20th anniversary annual meeting,

To join a conversation with Brian Eversham click here or copy and paste this link into your browser  

The conversation will be using the Zoom conferencing platform.  You do not need to download any software.  Please note the link will not work until 5pm on July 1.

Journalist is next guest

A wildlife journalist who lives locally is the next online speaker lined up by Langdyke.

Josh Jones  (pictured, below) will be our guest on Wednesday, June 17 at 5pm – chatting to members and answering questions via the Zoom online conferencing system.

Josh is best known for his regular contributions to, including the long-standing Review of the Week column.

He also writes the monthly reports section for Birdwatch magazine, as well as contributing regular features, with topics ranging from in-depth bird identification to travel.

You can see  a few examples of his work on the website or visit his personal website where there are a number of articles together with his wildlife photography.

The main picture of a rough-legged buzzard flying over Deeping High Bank  was taken by Josh

He also blogs  on wildlife at

To join the sessions all you have to do is click on the link below.  You do not need to add any new software to your computer.

This is the link to join the Zoom online conversation with Josh

The session will not be open until 5pm on the day so please do not try logging on before then.

May in pictures

It’s official – Spring 2020 was the hottest and driest on record.

And – coupled with the Coronavirus lockdown – it has meant that our members have been out and about in nature, practising social distancing and enjoying the countryside at the same time.

It helps if you get up at the crack of dawn and an early morning visit to Etton Maxey Pits paid off for Angela Trotter who took this great shot of a Roe Deer in the distance.  We’re making it our image of the month for May.

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

Everyone loves the Wren and this little thing was seen alongside the Maxey Cut by Liam Boyle.

A wren, seen alongside the Maxey Cut by Liam Boyle

It is good to see the Turtle Doves are back along the Maxey Cut and making use of the special feeding operation mounted by Langdyke volunteers at the Etton Maxey nature reserve car park.  Kevin Eldred took this shot.

The Turtle Doves are back at Etton Maxey nature reserve. Photo: Kevin Eldred

It is interesting to view our nature reserves at different times of the year.  Here are three May shots of Swaddywell, Etton Maxey and Castor Hanglands.

Swaddywell Pit in the May sunshine. Photo: Steve Zealand
Etton Maxey Puts nature reserve in May. Photo: Paul Bragg
Castor Hanglands in the Spring. Photo: Martin Parsons

The Covid-19 lockdown has meant that Langdyke has been unable to hold working parties.  One of the casualties of that is that no tern rafts were launched on to the water at Etton Maxey to attract breeding birds this year.

All the same it was good to see that this Common Tern made it’s way to the site in May and was photographed by Steve Zealand.

A Common Tern at Etton Maxey nature reserve. Photo: Steve Zealand

Other images captured during the month prove what a diverse range of species our reserves attract.

Ian Wilson captured this shot of a Skylark at Etton Maxey Pits
A Scorpion fly hiding in the undergrowth at Castor Hanglands. Photo: Ian Wilson
Reed bunting, Etton Maxey nature reserve. Photo: Martin Parsons
This Purple orchid was photographed in early May at Barnack Hills and Holes by Sarah Lambert
Orchid, photographed during a daily walk for exercise by Langdyke’s artist in residence Kathryn Parsons









A mayfly nestling in the undergrowth at Vergette Wood Meadow. Photo: Richard Astle
Grizzled skipper, Swaddywell. Photo: Brian Lawrence
Broad bodied chaser. Photo: Steve Lonsdale
Bee Orchid, Swaddywell. Photo: Steve Lonsdale

And finally. Just to prove that you don’t have to go outside to view nature.  Sue Welch discovered this Brimstone Moth had been trapped in her kitchen overnight.  After a quick photo it was released back into nature.

This Brimstone Moth was trapped overnight in Sue Welch’s kitchen. She photographed in the morning before letting it free.








Carry is our next guest

The next online talk will take place on Wednesday, June 3 featuring Carry Akroyd – long term John Clare supporter and highly regarded painter.

She is the latest of our guests who will be answering questions and talking about nature matters as part of the Langdyke online events programme using the Zoom experience.

Carry is a painter and printmaker living in Northamptonshire. Landscape is her usual subject, and as a bird-noticer, they usually fly into the pictures.

She is also the current President of the John Clare Society.

To take part in this session, which starts at 5pm, you need to click on the link below.  You do not need to load any software on to your computer to take part.  The session will not be open until 5pm on June 3 and will last about an hour.

This is the link:

The next online session will be on Wednesday, June 17 and will feature a conversation with Josh Jones, wildlife journalist, writer for Bird Guides and a local expert.

How to … attract insects

In the latest of our How to … series of articles – in which we look at ways of making your gardens more attractive to nature – Langdyke volunteer Malcolm Holley explains how to build simple structures out of rubbish to attract insects to your wildlife garden …


There are many ways to make homes for bugs like woodlice, centipedes, millipedes, spiders and so on.

You can go for a really deluxe version and create a complex bug hotel.  But there a simpler ways of building one as well.

Idea 1: Just use some old wood

A pile of old wood will rot away and provide an ideal home for all sorts of bugs.







  • Use old timber which has not been treated with chemicals and/or old logs  and tree stumps.
  • Find a place in the shade but where it can get wet.
  • Stack the wood in a pile so that it will not topple over.

To inspect, carefully remove logs to identify the bugs, then replace the wood carefully.

Idea 2: Use old bricks

A stack  of bricks could attract lots of bugs and spiders which prey on these.









Get some old bricks, preferably those with recesses or holes through them.  If they have broken edges, so much the better as these create passage ways in the pile.

  • Stack them face down in a pile on a flat piece of ground.
  • Stack each layer in a different direction so they bind safely together and will not topple over.

Some bees, like mason bees and leaf cutting bees, do not live in colonies but make individual nests for their eggs.  They  prefer  old masonry and walls or holes in wood.

Idea 3: Make a simple bee house









  • Cut a 6 inch tube from and old piece of drain pipe,
  • Pass a strong piece of twine or string through the tube and tie it into a loop to hang  up the bee house.
  • Cut old garden canes into 6 inch lengths and pack them into the tube. Hammer in pieces of split cane to wedge the canes in tightly.
  • Hang your bee house in a sunny place on a wall or shed. 

You can tell when the bees are using your bee house as they seal the holes with leaves to protect the eggs and young bees.

Idea 4: Use an old log

Another way to attract these bees is as follows:










  • Take an old log or post about a foot long.
  • Drill lots of holes of different sizes into it.
  • Hang it up on a wall or shed and watch.

Idea 5: Bigger could be best

More complex bug hotels can be made from 4 pallets to attract a whole range of bugs and maybe reptiles. The hotel can be made in layers with different types of materials in each layer to attract different creatures as follows:







Select a flat piece of ground. Place a brick in each corner where the bottom pallet will go.  Make sure the pallet will sit on the bricks without rocking.

  • Remove the pallet and place old bricks, broken tiles and plant pots in the area between the bricks.  This will be the “Basement” and will attract all types of bugs that like damp places and maybe reptiles like frogs or newts.
  • Place the pallet on the corner bricks with the top of the pallet facing down like a floor to make the “first floor”.  Fill this with old and rotten wood and branches, the more decayed the better. This will attract wood lice, beetles , spiders.
  • Place the second pallet face down on top of the first.  Fill this with old garden canes and other sticks and branches. The canes might attract leaf cutting bees and the sticks could attract all sorts of beetles.
  • Place the third pallet on top of the second floor and fill this with all sorts of plant and leaf litter.  This will attract earwigs, centipedes, millipedes and beetles.
  • Place the last pallet on top of the third floor and fill this with fir cones and dry sticks.  It is meant to be a place where insects can spend the winter.
  • Get some old garden compost/fertiliser bags and tack these on top to make a roof.

As an option, you can place clods of earth on top to anchor the plastic and provide another habitat for insects and beetles.

Whichever method you use your bug hotel will be ready for your first guests.

 The bug hotel in our main picture is in the garden of Caroline Cade in the Dogsthorpe area of Peterborough. 

Matthew’s our next guest

Langdyke is organising another online event – this time a conversation with the boss of one of the area’s largest nature attractions.

Matthew Bradbury

Following on from our very successful first conversation with Gardener’ s World expert Adam Frost in April, we are joined on May 20 by Matthew Bradbury, chief executive of the Nene Park Trust.

The hour-long online meeting starting at 5pm  uses Zoom.  You can join by getting a logon link – you don’t have to install any software.

He will  chat  about his love for nature, the work of the Trust and his thoughts on the John Clare Countryside project.

If you’d like to join the meeting please email Langdyke chair Richard Astle on

He will send you the Zoom invite.