St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Category: Spotlight on...

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

Spotlight on.. Skipper butterflies

The month of June heralds the emergence of Skipper butterflies at St Nicks, bringing a welcome gleam of gold on flower heads, especially in the grassy areas. Of the eight British skipper species Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris and Large Skipper Ochlodes sylvanus can always be found on the reserve in summer, while a further two […]

Posted 25 May 2017 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: butterfly, Large Skipper, Skipper Butterfly, small skipper

Spotlight on.. Goldfinch

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) is arguably St Nicks’ most colourful bird – although Bullfinch is a close contender! These black, white, brown, yellow and red (yes, count the colours!) finches are present at St Nicks all year round, and they breed on the reserve. They are widespread resident breeding birds throughout most of the UK and […]

Posted 3 May 2017 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: Goldfinch

Spotlight on.. Lesser Celandine

Wordsworth’s once-famous poem “To the small celandine” is unlikely to hit the spot for most modern readers, but it’s interesting that he’s honest enough to admit that he’d been seeing this pretty little flower for thirty or more years before he realised what it was and finally took a good look at it. Once he […]

Posted 3 April 2017 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: lesser celandine

Spotlight on… Woodlice

Woodlice are not the most exciting creatures to be found at St Nicholas Fields, but they are an important part of the reserve’s fauna and appropriately are very good recyclers! It is well-known that around the country woodlice are called by many different and sometimes amusing names like Roly-Poly, Billy-button, Pea Bug, Chisel Bob, Chuckywig, […]

Posted 28 February 2017 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: woodlice, Woodlouse

Spotlight on.. Water Rail

The Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) is a skulking, furtive member of the same bird family as Coot and Moorhen. The latter is quite often see on the becks at St Nicks, Coots almost never and the same for Water Rail until.. ..on the 3rd December 2014, a solitary member of the Wildwatch team was standing […]

Posted 28 January 2017 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: Water Rail