Far Ings - North Lincolnshire, Barton
The Visitor Centre and Warden's house were created by restoring derelict farm
buildings. Opened in 1991, the Centre provides commanding views of the reserve
and there are displays which help visitors to understand and appreciate the
wildlife of the nature reserve. There is also a shop which sells wildlife gifts
and souvenirs. The centre is staffed by volunteers on Saturdays and Sundays in
summer, Sunday afternoons in winter, and on bank holidays. There is a field
studies room which is available to schools and other educational groups.
Whisby - near Lincoln
Whisby Nature Park was opened in 1989. There are two full-time wardens who
undertake habitat management and amenity maintenance and development on behalf
of visitors. The Nature Park comprises a complex of small, medium and large
flooded gravel pits. Some former pits in the area have been used as sediment
lagoons and now form wet willow scrub or clay grasslands where the appropriate
management has been undertaken. There is only one major stream, an agricultural
drain of some local importance, the Pike Drain.
Dense willow and birch scrub can be found over wide areas in the north of the
Nature Park on spoil between the pits. A small oak woodland lies alongside the
railway, and near to the sites of former gravel works, there are very dry, open
expanses of gravel. The Lincoln to Newark railway line runs through the Nature
Park and intersects with the footpaths by means of a pedestrian bridge.
Snipe Dales - Spilsby
Snipe Dales Country Park offers a variety of attractive walks through 36
hectares (90 acres) of mainly coniferous woodland. There are picnic tables
in pleasant surroundings by the car park, as well as by the central ponds
and in a few other secluded areas. The woodland was previously owned by the Forestry Commission and is
mainly of Corsican pine, with specimens of Scots pine and European larch.
Beech grows along the southern edge of the woods, with alder, hazel and
willow species in the wetter areas.
The wide ride that runs to the north-east corner of the park has some
magnificent mature ash trees. Many deciduous trees and shrubs have recently
been planted to give more diversity and, as sections of the pines are
thinned, more plantings of native trees will gradually replace them. Nine newly excavated ponds are being colonised by water plants and
attract frogs, toads and dragonflies. They are also used as stopping off
points for migrant waders and waterfowl. Herons frequently visit the ponds.
Birds are best appreciated during the breeding season when bird-song and
activity is greatest – at other times the pine woods may seem fairly
quiet. The most abundant species are chaffinch, redpoll, willow warbler and
woodpigeon. In addition to the familiar blue and great tits, coal tits are
abundant. Willow tits and long-tailed tits also occur. Tree creepers and goldcrests forage in the woodlands, especially in
autumn and winter. Siskin have nested in the woods; when first recorded in
1985, this was only the second breeding record for Lincolnshire. These
attractive little finches may be common in the woods in winter along with
small numbers of bramblings, other finches and perhaps crossbills. Both tawny and barn owls can be regularly seen, while the quick dash of a
sparrowhawk may reward those with sharp eyes. Listen for the raucous cries
of jays and the occasional drumming of a great spotted woodpecker. Chiffchaff, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat and sedge warbler can be
heard in many places in summer, though they can be difficult to observe. The
woodcock, another secretive bird, is a regular winter visitor.
There are fewer flowering plants in the Country Park than in the Nature
Reserve, although generally the same species are present. Ferns are prolific
among the pines, and a good selection of fungi occur in autumn.
The path waymarked with red markers, known as the 'Snipe Dales Round',
provides a walk of about 6.4 km (4 miles), taking in both the Country Park
and the Nature Reserve.
Gibraltar Point - Skegness
Large nature reserve, one of the four main
sites in Lincolnshire and owned by Lincolnshire
Wildlife Trust Toilets and refreshment facilities can be found
at the field centre. Disabled access is available with suitably surfaced tracks,
viewing platform and access to the birdwatching hide and visitor centre. There
is an interpretation centre, bird ringing observatory and a field station for
education and research. Two birdwatching hides are available on the reserve, and
also a nature trail, just over 1 km long, with a shorter loop. A trail guide is
available for the reserve, with several panels and trail guide markers.
LOUTH LEADER NOVEMBER 21st 2005 NEWSPAPER FEATURE
Crowds flock to the seals
The seal pupping spectacle at Donna Nook is one of the wonders of Britain's
coastline. Reporter Trevor Brookes was given an exclusive insight by Donna
MORE than 3,000 visitors peered through binoculars and camera lenses on Sunday
to watch a sea of seals snake their way along the sands at Donna Nook.
Most people had travelled from across Lincolnshire to catch a glimpse of a
phenomenon which has now reached epic proportions.
But none had come from quite as far as renowned Spanish wildlife photographer
"For me, it's not normal to see wildlife as close as we can here. To be
able to get so close to the seals is wonderful.
"Normally, animals are scared of people. Donna Nook is very, very good
for me," said Mr Relanzon, who was shadowed by a Spanish national film
crew, documenting his work.
The 33-year-old photographer, who lives in Barcalona, has caught nature on
film in exotic and untouched locations throughout the world.
His awe-inspiring pictures include Canadian polar bears and Moroccan baboons.
Mr Relanzon said: "A friend of mine from London told me about the seals
here. It was worth the journey."
I had been taken to see him working by the shore's edge at low tide by Donna
The Coastguard's eight volunteer officers watch over 16 miles of sand, mud and
greenshore from Saltfleet Haven to Haile Sand Fort, Cleethorpes.
The unique stretch of coastline includes an RAF bombing range, a nature
reserve and, of course, the colony of 3,000 grey seals.
The coastguard officer in charge, Graham Merrikin, has seen the colony grow
from around 200 seals when he first joined in 1966.
The population explosion has meant, each year, between 30,000-40,000 people
come to see the seals between late October to Christmas.
Graham: "When the RAF is not using the bombing range, the public can go
wherever they like. But if they come out at low tide to see the seals, it can
take as long as an hour to return. A sea fog can descend at any time – it
can be very dangerous.
"We advise people to always wear warm clothing, and take food and water
At the sea's edge at low tide, a dip in the sand means the distant shoreline
disappears from view. Much of the vast stretch of sand is soft underfoot - and
it shifts each month.
"If people get into trouble, they should head due south or towards the
sunset," Graham said.
The coastguard erected a 'cockle pole' in the 1970s so cockle pickers, who
became trapped, could climb to the top and sit out an in-coming tide.
"If they are nearby, walkers can always head towards that," Graham
Visitors are asked to follow three simple guidelines when seal watching -
* Keep your distance from seals.
* Never touch a seal – a mother may abandon a pup if it smells of humans or
* Keep your dog on a lead and away from seals.
Coastguard officer John Frank added: "We often meet visitors who have
brought prawns or sardines to feed the seals with. But, please, don't feed
His colleague, Keith Warsap, added: "On serene days like today, when the
sun is out and the wind is calm, it's quite an experience to hear the seals'
eerie cries, alone by the shore.
"But conditions can change – the coastline should always be treated
with the utmost of respect."
As the sun went down over Donna Nook, I joined the madding crowd on its way
home, leaving the seals to bask in the last of the day's winter sunshine.
Ninety-eight pups were born at Donna Nook in 2004 – and this year wildlife
experts believe the 100 mark will be broken for the first time.
It seems the seals need all the rest they can get.
21 November 2005