Last Saturdays in 2017 – Open Days and moth / bug identification

From April, we will be resuming our regular Open Days on the last Saturday of each month, so

  • April 29th
  • May 27th
  • Jun 24th
  • July 29th
  • August 26th
  • September 30th

These will be from 1.00 pm to 4.00 pm, and an opportunity just to look around the reserve in your own time.  However, we hope also to organise special activities, appealing to young families, such as a Teddy Bears’ Picnic, and blackberrying combined with den building.  (The yields of blackberries were not great in 2016, but kids still had a lot of fun with their dens!)

We are also planning to set up moth traps the evening before, and have one of more volunteers come in to identify what there is fluttering around the reserve at the different times of the year.  We will be doing this to develop a record of the sites bio-diversity, but we hope also to be able to share some of what we find  with Open Day visitors.  Also, on the “last Saturday” mornings, from 11.00, volunteers who have done a “Curious entomologists” course with professional entomologist Richard Jones will also look for other insects.

All welcome – and a special welcome to those who like us are interested to know what insects we have!  We will be at the entrance for 11.00, but leave a message with the comments below if you want to come along, but are not sure if you will be there at 11.00!

Conservation volunteering, tomorrow and following last Tuesdays

We’re starting this low key, building up a group of volunteers to do conservation work at Dacres Wood on the last Tuesdays of each month, starting at 10.30.  There’ll be at least three of us there tomorrow, mainly pulling more reeds out of the pond, which is essential to keeping it fully frog, toad and newt friendly.

Continue reading Conservation volunteering, tomorrow and following last Tuesdays

Planning ahead to 2017

Last Saturday saw our last regular “last Saturday” Open Day for 2016, although the last Saturday of October will see volunteers from GoodGym Lewisham helping clear reeds from the pond.

But now we are thinking ahead, to 2017 and beyond.

Of course, we will resume our regular “last Saturday” Open Days, which we hope will continue to offer so many parents an opportunity to show their kids nature right here in SE23.

But Tim is also planning to resume his regular photo-blogging about plants and fungi, but on a regular day each month, and will be encouraging other people with an interest in plants and photography to join him.

Following the course run by Richard “Bugman” Jones on collecting insects, we are also thinking of similar monthly visits to photograph and identify insects and other invertebra. Unfortunately, to identify many species, it is necessary to kill them, so we plan to limit this to these proposed monthly visits, or ad hoc visits from experts with the sort of training Richard offers.

Finally, we are thinking of regular monthly conservation volunteering days, which will complement the work already being done by Thames 21 volunteers, and to be done by GoodGym Lewisham.

If you are interested in any of these opportunities to get more involved with Dacres Wood, please comment here, but when we have firmed up on actual dates, we will be contacting our growing mailing list, and using various local media to spread the message further.

How to be a curious entomologist

Richard Jones – a.k.a. Bugman Jones

will be in Dacres Wood this Saturday from 10.00 to 4.30, showing how to be a “curious entomologist”.  As he explains:

Insects are everywhere. They are so many, and so varied — fascinating, beautiful, mysterious, bizarre. Through their mind-boggling biodiversity they offer us a window into the ecological complexity of life on Earth, and give us a powerful insight of the workings of the natural world. But their small size means they can easily be overlooked or ignored. However it doesn’t take much specialist equipment to have a closer look. Using simple methods and materials provided, this 1-day workshop will look at techniques to find and observe a wide variety of different insects, then how to preserve sample specimens for examination under the microscope.

In the morning, we’ll tour the reserve, finding and discussing the many different insect groups — looking at their structure, behaviour, life histories, and some easy identification pointers. In the afternoon, during the laboratory session, there will be the opportunity to look at some in more detail, and consider how studying insects can contribute to our understanding of nature, and the contribution it can make through citizen science.

Curious? Why curious? Entomologists might, at first, seem a bit eccentric, but they pursue their study of the natural world with a passion fuelled by curiosity.

Richard Jones is an acclaimed expert entomologist, a fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and a former President of the British Entomological and Natural History Society. He writes regularly for BBC Wildlife, Countryfile, Gardeners’ World and Sunday Times. He has written several books on insects, including Extreme Insects, The Little Book of Nits, House Guests — House Pests, and Call of Nature — The Secret Life of Dung.

The cost is £35, and to book a place, call LB Lewisham Ecology officer Nick Pond on 020 8314 2007, where he will be able to take a card payment .  Alternatively, email him on or use this form to send him your phone number and a time he can call you.

Blackberry and Cinnamon Cake – Sounds delicious!

Thanks to Fiona B who contacted us with this recipe ahead of Saturday’s blackberrying Open Day:

Photo: Fiona Buckley


150g/5oz unsalted butter, softened
150/5oz caster sugar
150/5oz ground almonds
150/5oz self raising flour
1 free range egg
10ml/ 2 teaspoons cinnamon
10ml/2teaspoons vanilla extract
225/8oz fresh blackberries
Plus some for decoration
Icing sugar for dusting


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark4. Check temperature for fan ovens.
Grease and line the base of a 23cm/9 inch spring form tin

Put the butter, sugar, almonds, flour, egg, vanilla extract and 5ml/ 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a bowl and beat well together.
Spread half the mixture into the prepared tin, lightly flatten the stiff mixture with a fork.
Sprinkle over the blackberries, carefully dot and then evenly spread the remaining mixture over the blackberries to cover them.
Place the tin on a baking tray and bake for about 1 hour until golden on top. Test after 45 mins with a skewer, cover with foil to prevent burning the top if it is not ready, cook for another 15 minutes or so. Leave to cool completely in the tin. If still quite warm will break up when removed.
Dust the top with the remaining cinnamon and icing sugar, arrange a few blackberries on top for decoration

Things to do!

Here is our continuously maintained list of tasks to be done at Dacres Wood Nature Reserve and Field Studies centre.

Some of the tasks will be simple, some more long term visions, and we will have missed other things volunteers might be able to do, so please use the form here to make suggestions – and best of all to say “I can do this!”

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Continue reading Things to do!

Lewisham Nature Walk this Sunday

Dacres Wood will feature in a Lewisham Nature Walk this Sunday.  Led by botanists Tom Moulton and Pete Richardson (who has documented many of the species in Dacres Wood), it will start from Forest Hill Station at 2.00 pm, and we expect to be getting to Dacres Wood around 2.45, before going on to Mayow Park.

More details on the Lewisham Nature Walks web site here

Forest Hill To Mayow Park