St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Category: Spotlight on...

Spotlight on… Winter Buds

This months spotlight, written by Wildwatch volunteer, Kaye, is all about winter tree buds —proving we can identify trees without leaves and flowers!  Many people believe deciduous trees are hard to identify in winter.  Not necessarily so!  Some of our native species have very distinctive twigs and buds. Get to know these, and even without […]

Posted 7 February 2019 | Categories: Spotlight on..., Wildwatch | Tags: Alder, Alder Catkins, ash, buds, hazel, Hazel Catkins, Horsechestnut, lime, oak, Sycamore, Wildwatch, willow, Willow Catkins, winter

Spotlight on… Woodland structure: One year later

In January 2018, our Natural Habitats Manager, Jonathan, wrote a brilliant spotlight blog about the woodland structure, focusing on the understory. In this blog, Jonathan discussed the background of St Nicks woodland and talked about our plans for improvement as we launched our exciting new project; St Nicks community woodland, funded by the Postcode Local […]

Posted 20 December 2018 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: bats, Bluebell, coppicing, Dunnock, finches, Hawthorn, hazel, hedgehogs, hedgelaying, Holly, Otter, robins, volunteering, water voles, wild garlic, wood anemone, woodlands, wren

Spotlight on… Alder Buckthorn: Brimstone Bush

This month’s spotlight has been written by our incredibly knowledgeable Park Ranger, Sean Garvey, revealing revelations about native shrub species, Alder Buckthorn. Let me introduce you to one of St Nicks’ scarcest shrubs: Alder Buckthorn , Frangula alnus. It’s an unassuming plant that is easily overlooked; but it has a fascinating, and literally explosive, back-story. […]

Posted 27 November 2018 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: alder buckthorn, Brimstone butterfly

Spotlight on… Tawny Owls

Our brilliant Meadow Keepers intern, Eithne Phillips, has written Octobers spotlight, giving us insight into the wonderful world of Tawny Owls. The Tawny Owl is one of Britain’s most familiar species of owl and has been heard throughout our forests, woodlands and parklands for thousands of years. Our relationship with owls has often been a […]

Posted 30 October 2018 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: ecotherapy, tawny owl, wildlife, woodlands

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