St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Category: Spotlight on...

September 2015: Spotlight on.. Bindweed

If you’re a gardener, the name sums it up: an irredeemable weed that’s more than a bit of a bind if you’ve taken over a plot where it’s well established. The thin but strong, flexible stems twine round any vertical support, potentially strangling other plants, and the deep roots produce rhizomes that enable the plant […]

Posted 21 September 2015 | Categories: Spotlight on... | Tags: Bindweed, Field Bindweed, Hedge Bindweed, Large Bindweed

June 2015: Spotlight on … Ladybirds

Ladybirds are probably Britain’s best-loved insects. They are believed to be named after ‘Our Lady’ – the Virgin Mary – whose seven joys and seven sorrows are said to be depicted in our commonest native ladybird, the seven-spot. The 7-spot was also the most numerous at St Nicks until the arrival of the Harlequin. Ladybirds […]

Posted 22 June 2015 | Categories: Spotlight on..., Wildwatch | Tags: ladybirds, spotlight

April 2015: Spotlight on … Dunnocks

The Dunnock (Prunella modularis) is a common bird at St Nicks. It’s also known as “Hedge Sparrow”, “Hedge Warbler” and “Hedge Accentor”. The latter is the most accurate of names, because the Dunnock is neither a “sparrow” or a “warbler”, but is a member of the Accentor family of birds. But most people call them “Dunnocks”! […]

Posted 20 April 2015 | Categories: Spotlight on..., Wildwatch | Tags: Dunnock

March 2015: Spotlight on… Coltsfoot

Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara One of the earliest wild flowers of spring, Coltsfoot is very easy to identify. It’s a member of the Asteraceae or Composite family, and the bright yellow flowers look a bit like miniature Dandelions, to which they are related. Each flower grows on its own separate stem, but unlike Dandelions the stems […]

Posted 24 March 2015 | Categories: Spotlight on..., Wildwatch | Tags: coltsfoot, spotlight

February 2015: Spotlight on… Creatures found under logs and stones

Ground level at St Nicks reserve offers a sheltered home for many creatures, particularly in the leaf litter or under stones, bricks and decaying logs. Over the past year the Wildwatch group has spent a little time exploring this hidden world, whose inhabitants include worms, slugs, snails, woodlice, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, ground beetles and various […]

Posted 18 February 2015 | Categories: Spotlight on..., Wildwatch | Tags: Centipede, Ground Beetle, millipede, Springtail, Woodlouse

January 2015: Spotlight on… Wrens

The Wren – which has the intriguing scientific name of Troglodytes troglodytes – is a common bird at St Nicks, although it is heard more often than it is seen. The Wren is Britain’s third smallest breeding bird, after Goldcrest and Firecrest (sharing 1st= place). For such a small bird, just 9 – 10 cm […]

Posted 16 January 2015 | Categories: Spotlight on..., Wildwatch | Tags: feeding, nesting, spotlight, wren

December 2014: Spotlight on… Ivy

Its distinctive lobed leaves make Ivy (Hedera helix) one of the most recognisable plants at St Nicks, but there isn’t actually very much of it on the reserve – yet. We’re starting to find young plants here and there, but to see mature specimens you need to take an often muddy little side track from […]

Posted 16 December 2014 | Categories: Spotlight on..., Wildwatch | Tags: ivy, spotlight

November 2014: Spotlight on… Magpies

The Magpie (Pica pica), a member of the crow family, will be a familiar bird to almost everyone who wanders around St Nicks. Noisy, large and strikingly marked with a long tail, they are easy birds to see and identify. There are probably 3 – 5 pairs of Magpies breeding at St Nicks, although no formal […]

Posted 21 November 2014 | Categories: Spotlight on..., Wildwatch | Tags: magpie, nest, predation, spotlight

October 2014: Spotlight on… Long-tailed Tits

After the Robin, the Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) is probably Britain’s favourite bird! Charismatically cute (!) this small bird is a frequent visitor to gardens – and to St Nicks! We possibly have between 3 – 5 breeding pairs on the reserve. Nest building starts in March, usually fairly low down in thick shrubs or brambles. […]

Posted 14 October 2014 | Categories: Spotlight on..., Wildwatch | Tags: Bum-barrel, long-tailed tit

September 2014: Spotlight on … Garden Spiders

The Garden Spider Araneus diadematus is probably the best-known member of the spider family, weaving a beautiful circular web and best seen in late summer and autumn. By no means the only abundant urban spider (it has also been found on remote seacliffs from Shetland to Cornwall) it is in our gardens and hedgerows that […]

Posted 19 September 2014 | Categories: Spotlight on..., Wildwatch | Tags: Garden Spider