Category Archives: News

Online chats are back

New year, new lockdown … and so our regular online chats are back.
Many of you will remember during the last lockdown joining  the weekly online chats to talk about anything! Nature, what you had seen, what was happening in your garden  … nothing was off limits (well perhaps that’s not quite true!)
Since we have gone into another lockdown we have decided it would be a nice idea to bring them back for all members of the trust.
The chats are informal and can be centred around nature sightings, local walks people have done and are a good way of keeping in touch with each other during these times.
The chats will be held alternate Tuesdays and Saturdays, with Kathryn Parsons kindly offering to host the first one this Tuesday January 12  at 4pm.  Details of further dates will appear on the website soon.
We will be using the Zoom platform so to join just click here
Alternatively you can copy and paste this link into your web browser.

Nest box gift to Trust

A new Sand Martin nesting box has been put in place on a Langdyke reserve – thanks to  a generous donation.

The box has been specially built and placed alongside a stretch of water on the edge of the Vergette Wood Meadow at Etton.

It has been made possible thanks to a generous donation by Mrs Dorothy Astle, the mother of Langdyke chair Richard.

A new home for the Sand Martins at Vergette Wood Meadow

Trustee David Cowcill, who led the project team that installed the box, said:  “We’re very grateful to Mrs Astle for her generous gift to the Trust which enabled us to have the box specially designed.

“We’re confident it will provide a home to nesting birds in the spring.”

It has been placed more than a metre off the ground opposite open water and built so that the back can be removed and the nest boxes cleaned out each year.

The box, which is positioned in a sheltered position, should provide an ideal home for the Sand martins, which usually nest in natural sheer cliff faces on river bends or in man-made sites such as gravel or sand pits. They generally use vertical earth and sand banks soft enough for burrowing, in open areas.

It has been built by the Nene Park Trust and has 42 separate box compartments with a small opening to each on the front for the birds to enter.

In a light-hearted comment one Langdyke volunteer suggested that with 42 compartments and 4 or 5 eggs in each with two broods a year  it could mean a total of 378 new arrivals!  

Richard, who is in the main picture having helped with the installation of the box,  said: “We will be pleased if just a handful of birds use the box.  It will be a great addition to the reserve.”

David Cowcill working on the base ready for the Sand Martin nest box to be put in place




Good things in three’s

Three Good Things Thursday has been a great success.

Each Thursday in  November we asked Langdyke members to post on our Facebook page three things they identified in nature that brought some joy for them. 

The responses were superb with more than twenty different people posting on average 11 posts each Thursday with in excess of 160 specific items identified as bringing people a little joy during these difficult times.  

The quality of the images posted was, as usual, very good and the variety of topics (see the oak tree graphic below) revealed what a nature rich landscape we have access to. The size of the leaves represents how many posts made reference to that specific topic. 

Even better than this was the richness of language used to describe both the activities undertaken by individuals and those observed in nature ( see the image below) which shows the selection of words in the outer spiral and the emotions and feelings these stimulated (the  words in the inner spiral). 

Langdyke’s David Alvey said: “This illustrates just how good spending time engaging with nature is for our wellbeing. There will be no surprise given the general activity on our Facebook page that “Murmuration” was the most repeated observation amongst the posts.

“With such an amazing response we are continuing the #ThreeGoodThingsThursday, #TGTT initiative through December and January so please continue or join in and share your experiences with a post regarding three good things in your local countryside or garden. “

Reserves are still open

Langdyke has cancelled all work parties following the Government’s latest Coronavirus lockdown announcement – but our reserves remain open for people to exercise.
The cancellation of the work parties will last for the period the measures are in place.  In addition all of our bird hides will be closed.
The Trust has  also made arrangements to look after its sheep in accordance with the guidelines.
Chairman Richard Astle said: “Of course, we want you to continue to enjoy the countryside and take exercise in line with the Government rules and as a result our reserves that are usually open to the public will continue to be so.”
The online programme with guest speakers will continue. Details about them are on our website here 
In addition it has been suggested that some members may appreciate the re-starting of the regular weekly online chats held during the first lockdown. This will happen if if there is enough demand.
If you think you might like to take part (it will be for an hour once a week) then please send an email to membership secretary Peter Leverington at:
In the meantime please stay safe.

Students on our reserves

The team who tackled the area of Crassula

Students taking part in expeditions to gain their Duke of Edinburgh scheme qualifications have been working on the Etton Maxey nature reserve.

The youngsters, from Stamford Endowed Schools, have been using their half-term break to work towards either their Silver or Gold standard awards – taking part in a series of hikes and volunteer work programmes.

Around 120 teenagers, carrying heavy back packs full of clothing and camping gear,  have been walking from a drop-off point at Greatford across country to the Etton High Meadow barn before carrying out work tasks on the Etton Maxey site.

Usually the pupils would be carrying out the expeditions in the Lake District, but Coronavirus restrictions have meant that this year activities have been curtailed.

And so after conversations with Langdyke trustee David Alvey part of the programme this year has involved working with Langdyke on a variety of reserve tasks.

These have included cutting down willow, removing hawthorn and digging layers of crassula. The youngsters have been overseen by teachers and parents working to tasks set by Langdyke volunteers including David Alvey, David Cowcill, Richard Astle and David Rowell.

David Alvey said: “It’s been a great opportunity to open up our reserves to a new younger group of people.  They have set about their tasks with a great degree of determination and have done a really good job.  They have also been able to learn about the nature on the reserves at the same time and ask questions of our volunteers.”


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



Nature gets helping hand

Etton Maxey, July 2020 Photo: Brian Lawrence

Work has started on flailing the meadows at a number of Langdyke’s reserves to ensure we maintain a wide spectrum of outcomes for nature.

Although to some the work looks heavy-handed, the maintenance is crucial if we are to maintain the areas for future seasons.

Tractors have been out and about in recent days on many of our meadow areas.  Although they are grazed for many months by the Langdyke sheep they still need some extra heavy attention from time to time.

In a post on Facebook, responding to minor criticism of the timing of the flailing and its impact on Skylark nests, ecological consultant and botanist Sarah Lambert said: “The grass cutting looks damaging at first sight but if you continually cut grass late in the year it becomes dominated by rank species and you lose many of the smaller wildflowers including orchids.

“Many of the road verges round Peterborough have lost a lot of their botanical interest because they are regularly cut in September, even though the cuttings are removed.

“Cutting part of a site early helps to maintain botanical diversity, while leaving areas of untouched grassland for invertebrates and nesting birds. Interestingly, some of the best sites I know for skylark are hay meadows normally cut in June. Skylarks nest on the ground, in vegetation which is 20–50 cm high. This vegetation must be open enough to give the birds easy access to the ground. As long as no cutting takes place between early April and end of May, skylark populations shouldn’t be impacted (RSPB) and in future years the sward should be more suitable for nesting.”

Trustee Brian Lawrence has been out and about at the Etton Maxey reserve to capture photographic evidence of the result of the actions.

Etton Maxey, July 2020 Photo: Brian Lawrence
This area has been ploughed by David Cowcill to encourage wild flowers at, Etton Maxey, July 2020 Photo: Brian Lawrence
Plenty of visitors to Etton Maxey. July 2020 Photo: Brian Lawrence



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.

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.

Annual review published

Langdyke has 72 bird boxes positioned across its reserves;  there are eight types of orchid growing during a year at Swaddywell Pit and the Trust has planted 79 heritage fruit trees which are  growing in the community orchard at Etton.

Just a handful of fascinating facts included in the 2019 Langdyke Countryside Trust annual review, sent out recently to members.

In other areas of the report:

  • Chair Richard Astle looks at the many threats to nature in the area
  • There’s a round-up of happenings in our natural world during 2019; and
  • We take a special look at Operation Turtle Dove

Becoming a member of the Trust means you automatically receive a copy of the review each year along with a monthly newsletter of events and happenings and special access to Langdyke events. There are details of how to join on the website here.

You can read a copy of the review – which we are making widely available this year – by clicking here.