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.

Poldhu 

Poldhu


Horseshoe BatThe 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.

Once lost it can take a long time for species to come back to a site. It also takes a lot of many people's efforts and their time to ensure the habitat conditions are right, that the necessary work is done in the right place and at the right time of year. So, it is with great satisfaction to report that all of these factors have successfully come together at The St Keverne Beacon Picnic Site and that there is now, after a 30 year absence, a small population of one of our nationally most rare and vulnerable species, the Pygmy rush Juncus pygmaeus.

Ray Lawman carrying out emergency habitat management in his Landrover in 1981-82

For the last two weeks I have had the good fortune to be travelling with a group of University of Exeter undergraduate Geographers and Environmental Scientists to California for their final year fieldtrip.

I always find when I travel abroad that it throws some of our own landscape management issues in to sharp relief, and give new insights into what is happening on the ground. Yesterday we visited the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project near San Francisco. This vast project seeks to restore the natural marshland at the south end of San Francisco bay, some of which had been modified for salt production by artificial levees which created huge evaporation ponds.

The natural marshes provide flood control for some of the 7 million people that live in the San Francisco bay area, including the tech giants Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo and others whose shiny glass and steel buildings are clearly visible from the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge which forms part of the salt pond restoration project.

Hi all – I am Dougy the volunteer warden (on behalf of the Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust). The reserve is jointly owned by the CBWPS and the CWT. To find the farm, follow the A3083 Helston to Lizard road. 3 kms after the B3296 to Mullion Cove, look out for a sign for 'Wild Camping' on the right-hand side. It covers a large area (over 120 hectares) and has a good mix of habitat – heathland, scrub, pasture and plenty of ponds.

Windmill Farm has something for everyone at this time of year. For the botanists amongst you the Three Lobed Crowfoot (picture below) is still in flower – this rare track loving plant can be found in the gateway on the approach to Ruan Pool.Three Lobed Crowfoot

The farm also has other rarities such as Pygmy Rush and Yellow Centruary. The first few weeks of June should welcome the arrival of Green Winged Orchids.

Natural England has recently published a new profile for the Lizard. The Lizard National Character Area profile is one of 159 documents that Natural England are producing which provide evidence based descriptions of the character of the English landscape. The documents build on the work of previous profiles and form part of the governments commitment to delivering the Natural Environment White Paper, Biodiversity 2020 (replacement for Biodiversity Action Plans) and European Landscape Convention.

..... a dynamic ever changing habitat, shaped by wind and tide.
Aerial view of the Helford River

The wild weather we are having now has prompted me to write something about the dynamic nature of an estuary and the effect of the wind. Estuaries can vary widely in character depending upon their aspect and exposure to prevailing winds. The Helford Stretches from East to West, it’s wide open mouth leads out onto Falmouth Bay, exposed to winds from the East and to a lesser extent the West.  ‘When the wind is in the east, 'tis neither good for man nor beast’ is a well-known country saying and certainly no one would want to be out on the Helford when a good Easterly is blowing!

Thirty years ago when the Helford River was designated as a Voluntary Marine Conservation Area a survey was established to provide baseline information and ongoing monitoring of the intertidal in this area. It was designed to be a simple, inexpensive and therefore easily repeatable, a non-destructive baseline monitoring system to be carried out at regular intervals to try to detect any changes in the flora and fauna.

Rocky Shore at Prisk North Helford

Transects were laid out with grid references, compass bearings and features all taken down to make sure there is no doubt from year to year about where they lie.