St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Category: Spotlight on...

Spotlight on… Orchards

Written by Maria Gill, our Volunteer Co-ordinator, drawing on information from Traditional Orchards: A guide to wildlife and management Change is afoot here at St Nicks as temperatures begin to cool and autumn moves in. Nights are getting longer and sunshine is becoming soft and hazy. Plants and animals alike are beginning to make preparations […]

Posted 28 September 2018 | Categories: Bearing Fruit, Spotlight on... | Tags: apples, autumn, autumn fayre, mistletoe, orchards, Wildwatch

Spotlight on…Thistles

28 species in the Collins Flower Guide have the word “thistle” in their name. They are all members of the large and often confusing family of Asteraceae.[1] Sixteen of them are classed as true thistles, and at least ten of these are native species. For the purposes of this spotlight, we’re going to concentrate on […]

Posted 30 August 2018 | Categories: Spotlight on..., Wildwatch | Tags: Creeping Thistle, Spear Thistle, thistles, Welted Thistle, Wildwatch

Spotlight on… Common Carder Bumblebee

The Common Carder Bumblebee, Bombus pascuorum, is the most frequently seen Bumblebee on the reserve at St Nicks, though the Tree Bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum, is rapidly catching it up. Tree Bumblebees first arrived in the south of England in 2001 from continental Europe, and have since spread northwards, reaching Yorkshire in 2010 and Scotland three […]

Posted 27 July 2018 | Categories: Spotlight on..., Wildwatch | Tags: Bumblebees, Common Carder Bumblebee, insects, pollinators, Tree Bumblebee, wildlife, Wildwatch

Spotlight on: Bumblebees in spring

Nothing quite confirms the arrival of spring like the first bumblebee sighting of the year as they emerge from hibernation. The low hum of their wings as they zoom past is always a comforting sign that nature is buzzing back to life after those quiet winter months. Wind back 6 months or so to the […]

Posted 17 May 2018 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: Bumblebee, flowers, Meadow Keepers, pollinators, spring

Spotlight on: Woodland Birds

Of the 24 acres of St Nicks, nearly 60% (14 acres) is classified as woodland – a prime habitat for birds. So it’s no surprise that St Nicks has a rich variety of woodland birds. Woodland birds are more often heard, rather than seen, especially in the Summer, when they can be hidden by foliage. […]

Posted 2 April 2018 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: finches, Great spotted woodpecker, thrushes, tits, woodland birds

Spotlight on… Otters

Looking back, it is clear to see that otters (Lutra lutra) had a rather difficult time throughout the 20th century; they were hunted, much of their wetland habitat was destroyed and the introduction of poisonous pesticides led to dramatic declines. When used, these pesticides were washed and leeched into watercourses where they were then ingested […]

Posted 8 February 2018 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: Otter

Spotlight on… Woodland structure: the understory

A woodland can be split into distinct layers of vegetation: • the canopy: top layer consisting of the tallest trees which receive lots of light • the understory: the herb or field layer which includes our native spring wildflower bulbs and other plants such as grasses and nettles • the ground layer: what we find […]

Posted 24 January 2018 | Categories: Spotlight on...

Spotlight on.. Daddy Longlegs

There are three candidates for the title ‘Daddy Longlegs’. Two of them are arachnids (spiders and their relatives) – first the thin frail-looking long-legged spiders of the Pholcus species which inhabit our outhouses and our bathrooms, and second the related harvestmen (about 25 species in Britain) which are frequently found resting on vegetation around the […]

Posted 13 September 2017 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: crane fly, Cranefly, Daddy Longlegs

Spotlight: How they climb

Most of us go up and down steps and slopes without stopping to think about it, unless an injury or advancing age turns it into a conscious effort. Some of us enjoy the physical challenges and rewards of hill walking. A few serious mountaineers get kicks out of trying to get up sheer rock faces. […]

Posted 31 July 2017 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: Bryony, climbers, crampons, flora, how to, ivy, nature, spotligh

Spotlight on.. Painted Lady butterfly

The story of the Painted Lady Butterfly Vanessa cardui is full of surprises, and some facts about its life have only recently been discovered. We don’t see them every year on the reserve at St Nicholas Fields, but when they do appear, as they did in 2013, 2015 and 2016, they charm us with their […]

Posted 23 June 2017 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: painted lady, Painted Lady butterfly