Platform views .....
An innovative approach has been found to rescue a crumbling ancient monument at Windmill Farm Nature Reserve on the Lizard. The seventeenth century windmill, from which the site gets its name, has been deteriorating since its roof came off in the 1970s. With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and SITA Cornwall Trust an exciting project is underway to install a viewing platform in the windmill tower and crown it with a new roof. The views from the top will be spectacular, taking in the nature reserve and surrounding Lizard landscape. The windmill was used by the Home Guard as a look out post and the nature reserve is scattered with the remains of other structures from the Second World War.
Ponies doing their bit for wildlife...
The ponies were spotted out and about at Kynance recently. Grazing is used to help protect The Lizard’s habitats for wildlife, with Choughs one of the species that benefits.
Photo: Mark Hayhurst
Nature conservation on the Lizard
Remember the summer of 2012? It was wet. Very wet.
Whilst this summer hasn’t exactly offered the best weather, here on the farm, we’re still suffering the effects of 2012’s disastrously wet summer. The cattle suffered from day after day of rain, thereby eating wet grass all summer long. Wet grass seems to go straight through the animals, producing little milk or growth. The calves born in Spring 2012 should by now have been fattened and gone for slaughter, but due to their slow start to life, we still have many over 30 month cattle. Calves born in 2015, by comparison, are looking a picture of good health. OK, so it hasn’t exactly been the best summer we’ve ever had, but it has been reasonably dry, albeit somewhat chilly, the dry forage allows good growth and milk for the calves.
Following the BSE crisis in 19**, all cattle over the age of 30 months must have all spinal material removed, which includes the backbone. This leaves the animal unsuitable as a butcher’s quality carcass, and therefore reducing its value even if one day over. There is therefore pressure on farmers to force growth in order to gain reasonable value in finishing their animals in under 30 months. Many farmers achieve this through housing the cattle over winter and feeding them a diet of grain and high quality ryegrass forage.
Repairs to the Windmill at Windmill Farm Nature Reserve
Windmill with a roof 1938. photo by J.N.Rosewarne
The Windmill at Windmill Farm Nature Reserve, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, has had some much needed TLC recently. Thanks to a grant from Natural England we were able to commission structural and ecological surveys before carrying out emergency repairs to prevent an entire wall from collapsing.
Research on the Lizard
Thanks to its unique (within England) serpentine bedrock and its unusual climate the Lizard peninsula provides a habitat found nowhere else in England. As a result of this the Lizard is home to an impressive number of rare and endemic species, such as Sea Asparagus (Asparagus prostratus) and Twin-headed Clover (Trifolium bocconei). I am to provide an overview of some of the research being carried out on the Lizard.
Rushes brought low by teeth and blades
One of the main aspects of managing a floristically rich NNR such as the Lizard is controlling those plant species which could come to dominate a habitat and exclude other, rarer plants. Such work could be at the level of clearing scrub from around a rocky outcrop noted for a rare species, through to the broader sweep of controlled burning and grazing. Much of this management takes place during the winter months when many species are dormant, but this is not exclusively the case. For example, this summer NNR staff and volunteers have been trialling various methods to control the spread of bracken on the towans at Kennack. Another species to which we have turned our attention is to be found in the quieter confines of central Goonhilly.
Sand dunes: unsung heroes of coastal defence
Visitors to Poldhu Beach might be shocked to discover that much of the sand has disappeared following the storms and high seas at the beginning of January, unveiling a very stony beach and lots of beach litter. Thanks to Friends of Poldhu, the litter has all been removed, but it will take months, if not years, for the sand to re-appear. Fortunately, the sand hasn't gone too far, as any local surfers will be aware, there is now a rather useful sandbar just offshore, creating a tidy right hand break.
Seeing the wood for the trees
The banks of the Helford river are a haven for local wildlife from estuarine birds to rare woodland flora. This tranquil part of the Lizard peninsula offers wildlife lovers and water users alike the chance to explore and discover peaceful creeks and wooded valleys undisturbed by the bustling tourist season which is now upon us. It was here that Daphne Du Maurier composed her famous novel Frenchman's Creek and more recently Kylie Minogue filmed her music video for Flower. Aside from its fame, the Helford area is steeped in history and home to many pockets of ancient woodland.
These remaining areas of ancient woodland are bursting with biodiversity and support some of the countries rarest species such as the greater horseshoe bat which has declined by 99% over the past century.