NNR Events

Events to celebrate the expansion of the Lizard National Nature Reserve

Although much of the unique natural history value of The Lizard was not recognized until relatively recently, its wildlife resources are now very well protected. There are a host of designations, dedicated organisations and individuals which combine to ensure that this priceless area is best conserved.

West coast clifftop habitat

Apprentice Warden Claire Pumfrey with the controlled burning tools of the tradeThose of you who are regular watchers of the sky may have noticed in the last few weeks that it changed from its more traditional winter colour of battleship grey to something approaching a pleasing shade of blue. Yet, at this time of year, cometh the blue sky, cometh the smoke as farmers and conservationists alike took the opportunity of this window of dry and settled weather to burn selected patches of heathland. For those unfamiliar with the practice it appears a destructive form of habitat management, but carried out correctly it has a number of benefits for both graziers and wildlife and is regarded as one of man’s oldest land management tools, predating civilisation itself.

This is a question I’ve been asked many times since I donned the mantle of “Survey and Monitoring Trainee” at Natural England. Tom, my fellow trainee, and I find ourselves in the rather enviable position of spending three months involved in a wide and varied plethora of tasks touching upon varying aspects of the management and conservation efforts within a National Nature Reserve.

Tom preparing to herd some Shetland ponies at the cliffs at Caerthillian Maintenance of the invisible fences at Caerthillian

Before I moved here I was promised by anyone I discussed my impending placement with that I was relocating to one of the most beautiful locations in the country, with more wildlife and biodiversity than I could shake a stick at. I will readily admit that, one month in, I have not been disappointed. With tasks ranging from surveying marsh fritillary habitats, herding Shetland ponies, discovering new colonies of the Red Data Book Species land quillwort (Isoetes histrix), and failing to register historic ones, maintaining invisible fences, nest-watching Cornish choughs, partaking in guided woodland walks and observing barn-owl ringing we’ve got more than just a flavour of what conservation on the Lizard is all about.

View of completed bridgeWalkers passing through Carleon Cove, near Cadgwith, on the Lizard's east coast are in for a treat, thanks to the completion of a stunning new footbridge that carries the South West Coast Path over the Poltesco River.

The bridge has been designed to reflect the curved lines of a boat, and it is made in oak and larch, with stainless steel tension wires.

We knew the old bridge was near to the end of its life, so we decided to take the opportunity to do something different, to build a bridge that really did justice to this lovely place. We wanted a bridge that encouraged people to stop and linger. Most importantly, it had to be a good place to play Pooh sticks as that's always a favourite with the many school groups we bring here!

Loe Pool


Loe Pool Forum (LPF) is a catchment based partnership concerned with water pollution in Loe Pool and the impacts of flood risk management for Helston on the natural environment downstream of the town. LPF thinks of itself as sister ship to Linking the Lizard Partner-Ship. Moored alongside in the geographical sense, but working to improve the water environment rather than the terrestrial biodiversity. To stretch the metaphor LPF even share some crew; Alastair Cameron (National Trust) and Jeremy Clitherow (Natural England) who are on the bridge of both partner-ships.

Windmill FarmAnother great year at Windmill Farm! Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the CBWPS continue to provide excellent support to the upkeep, development and regeneration of the farm back to its natural habitat. Windmill Farm is, by design and nature, a boggy environment and heavy rain can cause the footpaths to become muddy – I advise that you always have your wellies with you and if it is particularly boggy/wet you may have to refrain from certain areas of the farm. The trust and helpers try their utmost (with scarce resource) to keep all paths clear at all times but it is not always possible. A big thank you from me – as always if any of you wish to help out please look on the CWT and CBWPS websites for events/dates. Also if you have anything you wish to discuss please contact me, or either of the Boards' of the societies, as we are always happy to listen, engage and discuss.

 
 

A 14 –tonne digger and a king size dumper truck are not what you expect to encounter amidst the skylarks and meadow pipits and general blissful tranquillity of Goonhilly Downs National Nature Reserve. But a few weeks ago that is exactly what you would have found – contractors Gordy and Ky turning their skills to restoring an old trackway for the benefit of the pigmy rush (Juncus pygmaeus).

Grazing the heath at Beagles Grazing the heath at Beagles

The National Trust has had ponies here on the Lizard for over 20 years, grazing the coastal heaths and grasslands for the benefit of wildlife. Our original herd, now aged over 30, is still going strong, proving a life of sea air does you good! These purebred Shetland ponies came to us from Arlington Court, a National Trust estate in north Devon, where some of their old pals still live today.

Grazing poniesThe year started with those incredible storms, and a lot of damage to coastal sites, land slips, beaches, popular with our summer visitors cleared of the sand –and then - WE HAD A SUMMER, the first proper summer for years, it was fantastic and the Lizard was transformed again with an amazing flowering season, and we here at NE managed to get work done that we had we planning for years, getting to parts of the NNR, that needed to be dry to carry out repairs to fencing and gates, we managed to get some species monitoring done, and our 11 graziers were able to get their stock out on time to help us manage the reserve.

chough image 2015 6 20150527 1895212043Teams of RSPB and National Trust volunteers have been watching chough nest sites across Cornwall again this spring. Despite a battering from some very strong and cold easterly winds, the 'Chough Watch' volunteers have put in many hours to make sure that disturbance around nest sites was kept to a minimum, and it has paid off!

  

Kennack Sands on The Lizard is one of our finest Cornish beaches. It is cherished by locals and visitors alike. In order to help safeguard this precious place, and to give people a stake in the ongoing management, we are meeting to form the Friends of Kennack Sands. We are calling all with an interest in the area to come along on Tuesday Jan 17th at Ruan Minor Village Hall at 7pm.Kennack Sands

Last summer the beach was thrown into a crisis when Cornwall Council withdrew the litter collection. Local interests worked hard to find a solution, and it was apparent how significant the beach is to so many residents. By forming the group we hope to capture some of that passion and give the local community a much greater sense of ownership of this beauty spot.

We are looking for botanists of all abilities to help with the first repeat of our 4-yearly quadrat survey on the Lizard National Nature Reserve. If you fancy getting involved in a few days of sun-drenched (not guaranteed), unique botanising (guaranteed) then this could be for you. It is a bit of a botanical jamboree with about 40 botanists taking part – half from Natural England and half local naturalists.

Since 2011 over 850 volunteers from NE and our partner organisations have participated in vegetation surveys on Long Term Monitoring Network (LTMN) sites. The Lizard NNR is part of this network and is due to be resurveyed this year from the 20th June – 23rd June (inclusive). The survey will help us to understand how changes in the natural environment relate to climate change, air pollution and land management and we'd like to invite you to take part.

Out on the coastal path in Spring

The south west coast path traverses 600 miles of the UK's finest scenery. Walk the whole distance from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset and, with all those ups and downs, you will climb the equivalent of 4 times the height of Everest! Over half of the coast path is in the care of the National Trust, so naturally it features strongly in our work in the SW.

Here on the Lizard the National Trust cares for more than 10 miles of this well-loved trail. Work can be divided into routine maintenance, such as strimming and keeping drains flowing, and larger improvement projects. In the summer months just keeping on top of the strimming is a never ending task, tackled by staff, our regular volunteers, and contractors called in as reinforcements. More sheltered sections of the path require up to 3 cuts per year.

New boardwalk and stepping stones near Black Head, built by our Access Ranger and team of volunteers

Upgrading a footbridge

Coast path erosion2012 was in many ways an extraordinary year. Team GB surpassed expectations at the Olympics, NASA landed its rover on Mars, some boffins in Italy finally discovered Higgs Bosun (the significance of this discovery is yet to sink in) and the deadly ash dieback disease, inevitably, reached our shores.

Here on the Lizard, 2012 will live long in our memories as the "rainy year". Considering the first few months of the year we were officially in a state of drought, the rain arrived in Spring and it then just seemed to get wetter and wetter, culminating in some quite extraordinary storms in November. Aside from the localised flooding causing untold misery to many local communities, the torrential rain cast a timely reminder of our dynamic and ever-changing coastline, in the shape of land slides, erosion and cliff falls. As a result, the South West Coast path suffered some of its worst damage in its 40 year history.

Cornish HedgeFarming has coincided with the natural environment on the Lizard for centuries. Currently due to the CAP reform, any farmer who has more than 15 hectares of arable land will have to “set aside” 5% of their arable land as an EFA, Environmental Focus Area.
There are five different types of EFA:
1. Fallow Land
2. Hedges
3. Buffer Strips
4. Catch crops and cover crops
5. Nitrogen fixing crop
The Cornish hedge is an obvious ecological resource which many would like to use towards their EFA requirements. There is an abundance of biodiversity within the Cornish hedgerows which is promoted by our mild winters.
EFA hedges can be any width, or any height. They must be maintained for the whole scheme year in line with cross compliance rules. Newly planted hedges can also count for EFA if they are in the ground when a BPS application is made.
Hedges can include gaps. There is no limit on how many gaps a hedge can have – as long as each individual gap is not more than 20 metres.