Breaking News!

Holt Island Nature Reserve opens for Heritage Open Days 2019

Willow StrippingWe’ll be open as part of Heritage Open Days 2019 to welcome visitors to Holt Island Nature Reserve on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd September (open both days 10am – 4pm).

There will be a display of original Harrison willow baskets and tools, a pictorial display of the heritage of Holt Island and the opportunity to 'strip the willow' with an original tool called a 'Brake' (see picture).

On Sunday 22nd September, 11am – 3pm, Jane Frost will be demonstrating basket weaving.





For more information about Holt Island Nature Reserve and Heritage Open Days, visit

To see what else is open near you, visit


Musk Beetle in the meadow

Musk BeetleWe had a visit from a Brownie Pack this week and went on a bug hunt. We were absolutely delighted when sharp eyed members of the group spotted two Musk beetles as we searched. These long-horn beetles have very long antennae and can measure as much as 4cm! They are widespread but scarce throughout the UK, but wetlands like the Fens are where they are most often found, with the larvae living in the wood of willow trees.

Photo © Alison Gray


Pretty as a Peacock

You may have noticed clusters of these black, bristly caterpillars on Holt Island recently. These are the caterpillars of the Peacock butterfly – you may also see these beautiful butterflies in your garden. The females lays around 500 eggs, usually on nettles (which are plentiful on Holt Island), which the caterpillars also eat. When the caterpillars hatch – after about two weeks – they spin a web in which they live and feed as a community. As they grow they live more in the open. The adult butterflies emerge in July.

Did you know? The “eye spots” on the Peacock butterfly are used to scare off predators.

Peacock butterfly caterpillars

Peacock butterfly