Category Archives: Events

Forthcoming nature events

Bees on the reserve

With the warmer weather is is not just butterflies to spot on the reserve. The warmer days provide plenty of opportunities to find bees on the reserve in April.

Below is a table of the bees sited on the reserve in 2016 thanks to the efforts and reporting by Ryan Clark

Common Name Scientific Name
Tawny Mining Bee Andrena (Andrena) fulva
Gwynne’s Mining Bee Andrena (Euandrena) bicolor
Grey Mining Bee Andrena (Melandrena) cineraria
Buffish Mining Bee Andrena (Melandrena) nigroaenea
Early Mining Bee Andrena (Trachandrena) haemorrhoa
Hairy Footed Flower Bee Anthophora (Anthophora) plumipes
Buff-tailed Bumblebee Bombus terrestris
Garden Bumblebee Bombus hortorum
Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius
Red-tailed (Hill) Cuckoo Bee Bombus rupestris
Southern (Vestal) Cuckoo Bee Bombus vestalis
Tree Bumblebee Bombus hypnorum
Common Carder Bee Bombus pascuorum
White tailed Bumblebee Bombus lucorum
Ivy Bee Colletes (Colletes) hederae
White-footed Furrow Bee Lasioglossum (Dialictus) leucopus
Two-coloured Mason Bee Osmia (Neosmia) bicolor

The last entry is particularly interesting to look out for as it makes its nest in old snail shells. It then uses very small “sticks” and grass to seal the entrance which it collects and carries to the nest. This can give the appearance of bees “riding broomsticks”.

For more information on these and other bees visit


Friends of Castor Hanglands and Ailsworth Heath

Our close neighbours have an event this Thursday 16th March at Castor Village Hall doors open at 7:00pm.

Those who were unable to attend our A.G.M. may be interested in hearing Chris Gardiner talk further about this S.S.S.I. and also Froglife and Nene Coppicing and Crafts will be present on the evening.

The Friends of Castor Hanglands and Ailsworth Heath have recently formed and are keen to put together a working group interested in helping maintain the reserve and learn more about what is present on the reserve and how it can be improved. They already have an interesting programme of events arranged with the Langdyke CountrysideTrust for the spring so if you are interested in more details please visit


First Event for 2017 – Monday 20th March

A brief post to let you know of the first opportunity to meet up in 2017 and help with the maintenance of the reserve.

Tim from Natural England will be leading a working party on the Hills and Holes to undertake a variety of tasks to prepare the reserve for the season.

The group will meet at the main car park at 9:00am and if you are willing and able to join us then you would be very welcome. Work on the reserve will continue throughout the morning and into the afternoon so please feel free to join us whenever you can and for however long you can.

Whilst any required tools will be provided please come with appropriate gloves, footwear and appropriate clothing for the weather. Depending on how long you are able to join us please also ensure you bring relevant refreshments for yourself. (Although I suspect if you want to sneak off to The Millstone at lunch time that will be permitted).

Report on AGM held 16th January

A small group  met on Monday  16th for the A.G.M. and a very interesting talk about the history and current management of the Castor Hanglands / Ailsworth Heath reserve by Chris Gardiner. This particularly included information on the flora and fauna that you can expect to see in the different areas of this very diverse site. There was some encouraging news on the return to the site of several species of butterflies in numbers sufficient to make it a realistic  possibility of spotting one during a visit.

The business part of the meeting saw the majority of the committee happy to continue in their roles and a new chair Chris Evans elected. A unanimous big thank you to Alyson our outgoing Chair for all the work she has undertaken over the past three years. Our finances are in a healthy position with a slight increase in available funds at the year end. That only leaves us needing a volunteer to pick up the role of membership secretary to keep up to date our records of the 40+ members. Please do contact us if you are able to help with this vital but not too onerous task.

A full programme of events for 2017 is being planned so please keep checking the website and our Facebook page for information on these as the arrangements are confirmed.

AGM this Monday at 7:30pm in Barnack Village Hall

A final reminder that the AGM for the “Friends” is being held this Monday 16th January at 7:30pm at Barnack Village Hall. Please come along and after a short business meeting hear about the near by Castor Hanglands reserve from Chris Gardener.

There will be the opportunity to browse through old newsletters, review the survey results for 2016 and examine how the reserve has changed over the last 80 years as recorded in various aerial photographs and images. You may also be interested in finding out how you can help with bringing up to date our fixed point photography records to illustrate the changes in more detail.

There will  be the opportunity over light refreshments to discuss the events being planned for 2017 and how you could contribute to the purposes of the organisation as described in recent posts.

Finally it provides you with the ideal opportunity to pay your 2017 membership subscription.

Purpose of the Friends – Promote Understanding of the Reserve

To maintain the quality of the flora and fauna and therefore the status of this very special place as a National Nature Reserve it is essential that the broad community of visitors understand the significance of the “Hills and Holes” in conservation terms.

Therefore the primary aim of the group is to inform and engage visitors and potential visitors with the significant aspects of the reserve. Especially how the reserve needs to be managed to ensure the fantastic diversity and significant populations of rare plants is maintained over the years and hopefully made more robust for future generations to enjoy.

This aim can be achieved by organising and providing  good publicity of events (e.g. annual glow worm walk, guided walks etc..). By good use of this website and facebook page and many other mechanisms that are available.

The organising, publicity and communication element of this is a key contribution you could help make to the success of the group, so please do get in touch with your ideas and offers to help or come along to the AGM on 16th January to find out more.

Purpose of the Friends – Raising Finance

All budgets are continuously under threat and Natural England’s is no exception. The time they can spend on the reserve and the funds they have available for specific projects will continue to decrease at least in the short to medium term. As a government agency they are restricted in what funding they can seek from other sources and organisations . These restrictions do not apply to the Friends.

We therefore have an opportunity to enhance the reserve with sourcing finances for specific projects that support Natural England’s management plan. Raising these funds and applying for grants and funding from other organisations is an extremely useful way you could help the reserve to flourish and improve without getting cold, wet or even your hands dirty (apart from perhaps the odd ink stain).

If you feel able to contribute in this aspect of work for the Friends then please contact us or to find out more come an join us at the AGM on 16th January.


Purpose of the Friends – Maintenance of the Reserve

To assist Natural England with the implementation of their Management Plan the “Friends” provide voluntary services assisting with such tasks as scrub clearance and undertaking regular routine checks of the functionality of the gates, fences  and other infrastructure throughout the year.

Peterborough Conservation Volunteers make regular visits to the site to assist with scrub clearance and joining these parties can be an ideal opportunity to find out more about our local nature reserves.

If you feel that you would like to contribute to these events and especially if you are able to co-ordinate these activities we would love to hear from you. If you would like to find out more then come and talk to us at the AGM on 16th January

Purpose of the Friends – Monitoring and Surveys

Over the past few years since its formation the Friends have assisted with the annual Man Orchid count in both good and foul weather! Last year we took on the challenge of the weekly Butterfly transects and we would like to continue to expand the role we play in providing and maintaining this historical data set.

With  continued cuts to Natural England’s budget their capacity to continue with the detailed surveys of Orchid species that have taken place annually sine the mid-1970’s is under significant threat.

The routine monitoring of butterflies on the site is dependent upon regular weekly (weather permitting) visits of about 1 hour to walk a set route around the reserve.

It would be wonderful to update some of the quadrat survey work on flora undertaken in the past and for those  with an interest in invertebrates the last major survey was in 1990 so feel free to get your “bug” books out and help see what has changed!

Please do get in touch with us if you would like to contribute to this and to find out more come and talk to us at the AGM on 16th January.

Update on AGM Monday 16th January @ 7:30pm

Please do join us at the A.G.M. being held at Barnack Village Hall on Monday 16th January.  The “business” part of the meeting is always brief with the majority of the time spent on more interesting topics.

As well as an informative talk about another local reserve (Castor Hanglands) by Chris Gardiner there will be some historical photographs of the reserve, updates to the Orchid monitoring with the results of the 2016  surveys and information on the 2016 butterfly transects.

The provisional list of events for 2017 will  be available for comment and it will be your opportunity to indicate what you would like to see organised during the year and find out more about the various aims of the group and how you can help. (More to follow on these in posts over the next few weeks)

Finally it will obviously provide you with the ideal opportunity to pay your 2017 membership subscription.