Visit to Gelder Group Environmental Project, 24 July 2013

     Some two dozen Gainsborough Group members and friends arrived at the Gelder Group Head Quarters on Tillbridge Lane, to find a new species of Gatekeeper, the Linda Woodwardus, fluttering back and forth opening the employee car park gates. Linda, who had organised the visit, handed over to Jean Blades, who introduced Gelder’s Simon Blaydes (not a known relation but she’s sure there’s a connection between the families somewhere in the past). Simon is the Groups Environmental Project Warden, and gave an introduction to the Award winning Environmental Project before leading the walk, along with his colleague and nature enthusiast Kate Brown.

     We gathered by the very impressive information board showing a layout of the Project including the various habitats and features that had been specifically created. The Project was an early dream of company founder and Managing Director Steve Gelder and was formally opened by the Duke of Gloucester in 2010, when a commemorative oak was planted.

     The Environmental Project has been in development for some 8 to 10 years and is starting to mature nicely. Covering 16 acres, and planted up with 3800 native trees of fifteen species with extant trees and valuable Hawthorn hedges retained, it provides habitat for a wide variety of typical mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish. Perhaps the most spectacular and visible is the family of Kestrels; as we entered the network of paths, two of the recently ringed, newly fledged chicks were visible and audible on the roof of the brick-built Kestrel/Owl tower, with an adult perched nearby. Since the Tower was sited 3 years ago it has been inhabited each year by Kestrels and Barn Owls. The Project is equipped with numerous nest boxes with Blue Tits, Great Tits and Robins all fledging with success this year alone.

     After taking a good look at the surprisingly large Kestrel fledglings, we passed the amphibian pond, which Simon told us contained frogs and toads and hopefully newts will soon find it. The paths had been constructed of recycled Carboniferous Limestone; (a white inert by-material produced in the manufacture of construction aggregates) and form several opportunities for exploration as they meander through areas of vigorously growing grasses and flowering plants.

     A variety of butterflies including Large White, Small White, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Large Skipper and Gatekeeper (the usual one). Lively conversation ensued following the identification of Cinnabar Moth catapillars.

     A pair of Yellow Wagtail was seen from a distance on the playing field area near the car park, and when we approached the lake, a pair and youngster of this attractive species were bathing at the base of the reeds. Simon explained that the lake contains mostly Rudd, Ghost Carp and Skimmer Bream along with Gudgeon, Roach and Ide. The Lake offers several fishing platforms and is topped up with controlled amounts of pumped fresh water from the adjacent River Till. This action helps balance seasonal evaporation and subsequently creates a wet meadow habitat to the east that is attractive to specific plants, insects and waders that to date have included Snipe and Green Sandpiper. A Kingfisher perch had been created in the eastern corner of the Lake

     As we continued to follow the sinuous path, we noted several plants of Bristly Ox-tongue. Log piles and decaying timber debris have been specifically located around the Project and provide valuable terrestrial habitats for amphibians, homes for small mammals, Beetles, Wood louse and lots of other creepy crawlies!

The site is bordered by the Till to the west, and there are public footpaths along its bank and on the eastern boundary. We eventually reached the eastern footpath, just about the same time as the Red Arrows RAF display team performed a few spectacular manoeuvres and then peeled off one by one to land at RAF Scampton.

Our route took us behind the Kestrel Tower near which a Barn Owl was flying. A pair has been seen recently near the Tower which has some vacant spaces, so perhaps they may nest soon.

     The Gelder Group head quarters is serviced by its own Bio-Treatment Plant which discharges clean water back into the River Till. A rainwater harvester services the Groups toilets and supplements water for washing the company vehicles. The Group recycles over 90% (compared to the 72% industry standard) of its own site waste at its recycling plant – Greentech located a few miles from HQ at Dunholme.

     The walk concluded on the bank of the River Till, where Yellow Water Lily was spotted. Simon noted that if one wished to walk along the riverbank in this area, it was probably better to park at Thorpe Bridge, some ¾ of a mile north, and walk south as there isn’t much safe parking on Tillbridge Lane at this point.

     After a group photo at the starting point and an invitation from Alison and Rodger Brownlow to come for refreshments at their Westwood home, we left the site, having enjoyed a most interesting and pleasant visit. This enjoyment continued at the Brownlow’s; they served lovely homemade cake, home-grown cherries and cuppas, and the conversation about what we’d seen and other countryside matters rounded off an excellent field meeting.

By Karin Negoro with assistance from Simon Blaydes

For more information on the Gelder Group Environmental Project and their Environmental Awards see the following links:


2) Green Apple Environmental Award 2012

3) Gelder's Eco Board

Field Trip to Idle Valley Nature Reserve, Retford – Wed 8th May 2013

17 people came to see more of the reserve for themselves after Di’s indoor talk to the Group in April. We had a quick look around the Visitor Centre area and then Warden Martin Fisher took us on a suitable walk further afield. The evening was overcast so wildlife activity was at a minimum, but we were able to get a feel for the place should we venture further on future visits! There are 5 way marked walks of varying lengths (up to 6 miles), and one of them is a 1.4 mile walk on an easy path around Bellmoor Lake. This starts from the Visitors Centre and its amenities, and is ideal for a stroll if in that area.

AGM followed by talk on Idle Valley Nature Reserve, Retford - Wed 24th April 2013

A wonderful turnout for an AGM when we were treated to some lovely food after the evening’s speaker – homemade soup and plum bread! 

Not many of the people in the audience had previously visited the Reserve so Di gave us a brief outline of its formation and how, at 430 hectares, it is one of the largest nature conservation sites in the East Midlands. It stretches from Retford in a northerly direction to Lound Gravel Pits (which has also been designated an SSSI site) and is crisscrossed by footpaths of varying lengths which let you reach all corners of the reserve - if you’re fit enough!

Our contribution to Notts Wildlife Trust for the speaker and subsequent field trip on 8th May enables us to receive E-newsletters from both Idle Valley and the Notts Wildlife Trust at intervals throughout the year. If any Member would be interested in having these forwarded to them, please Contact us.

Wildlife Gardening – Mary Porter  Wed 20 March 2013

In preparation for the change of season which must surely happen soon, Mary talked about the things we should be thinking about to keep our gardens friendly for different sorts of wildlife.

She pointed out that a garden pond, although tremendously beneficially to allsorts of creatures (especially if there are no fish in there!) can become a death trap for garden wildlife. Hedgehogs often use ponds for drinking, and there must be gently sloping sides or pebbles so that it can climb out if it has the misfortune to fall in.

Hopefully we shall start to see some butterflies soon and Mary told us how important the early flowering plants are for a readily available nectar source for them. Snowdrops can be a welcome source of food, but with the cold weather this year they may well be over before many butterflies are active!

We just need it to warm up a bit to start our own wildlife gardening…


Local member Annette had promised to bring a couple of owls along for her talk this evening and so we were rewarded with a good turnout, despite the chilly weather. Not only were we treated to a visit by a tawny owl and a barn owl, we were also introduced to a kestel as well.

In the first half Annette held each bird in turn and used it to illustrate lots of interesting facts - why owls rotate their heads so far round, the different methods each species uses to catch prey, position of their ears etc.. She also touched briefly on other owls – snowy, long and short eared and the current debate surrounding eagle owls.

The second half enabled the audience to ask any questions and to hold the owls for a close-up view (and photographs) if they wanted.


A return visit by our local photographer and naturalist was just what we needed to cheer us up at this time of year! Firstly we were transported to Japan, a country that has it’s own select wildlife of rarity value – especially as far as photographers are concerned. You could almost feel the cold just by looking at the snow covered landscapes complete with swans, eagles, cranes and monkeys with icicles for whiskers!

We were then taken via Lesvos , a hotspot for birds in Spring, before we saw some of the wildlife Geoff is lucky enough to get in his garden at home. To end the evening we went on a trip to Africa and Geoff demonstrated that an unconventional approach to photographing an animal can sometimes create much more feeling about it and its surroundings than what a normal shot does.


The talk by Janet (Peto) was very appropriate considering the time of year, and gave us all an insight into what to do if we are unfortunate to come across a hedgehog we suspect isn’t fully fit. This is particularly important now as they are preparing to hibernate for Winter, as they must be a healthy weight to start the hibernation process or else they will not survive.

In the second half Janet showed us how to construct a simple but effective living and sleeping area out of a cardboard box where we could keep the hedgehog warm while we assessed the situation to decided on the course of action. It might just be a case of encouraging it to eat in order to gain some weight - dog food and mealworms go down a treat but NEVER bread and milk.

She had some very informative handouts available and which she has kindly let us put below for you to look at and save if you want. There’s loads of interesting information so do have a read!

Click the links:


                    2) HOW TO MAKE A GARDEN OR RELEASE BOX

                    3) 2012 – A TERRIBLE YEAR FOR HEDGEHOGS


Although Janet lives too far away to take in any sick or injured hedgehogs we might find, she doesn’t mind if we ring her for advice (at a reasonable hour!) - see Information Sheet (No. 1 above) for telephone number.


Malcolm Walpole treated us to a wonderful audiovisual presentation of his adventure in Africa which was, at times, just like watching a nature programme on TV!

His journey by 4x4 vehicle was off the beaten track and made possible by sleeping under canvas. He took us to the Okovango Delta and Kalahari Desert on his travels and we were treated to stunning photographs of the impressive variety of wildlife that he came across. The pictures were accompanied by atmospheric music playing very subtly in the background, while Malcolm narrated and account of what was on the screen. A different and very effective approach to an indoor meeting.


We had expected to have to cancel the visit due to bad weather, but all the crossed fingers must have done the trick as we had a lovely sunny evening for a stroll around the reserve.

At one point it looked like the leaders might outnumber the visitors, but eventually 11 people came along which made a nice-sized group. We were shown lots of interesting and different things which make this reserve such a pleasure to visit at any time - marsh harriers to terns, orchids to fungi and longhorn beetles to butterflies.


With bad weather cropping up regularly this summer, we were very lucky to have a rain-free night for moth trapping, followed by a lovely sunny morning when we assembled at Strawberry Farm, Morton to open the traps.

Whether it was really the moths, or the bacon butties for breakfast that was the attraction (?), around 20 people turned up and were treated to fascinating information from Matthew Blissett (N.W. Lincs Warden) as he opened each box. We had set 5 traps overnight and each had been left in a different area, so it was interesting to see the variation in contents of each. Altogether we (well, Matt and Ted really!) identified 49 different species from a total of 178 moths caught, which more than kept the photographers busy!

Click here to see the ‘Moth Morning’ album for photos of some of the species caught