Spring arrivals and passage, of Warblers, was good in April with decent numbers of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler arriving to breed on the Farm. Grasshopper Warbler numbers appear down; I have only heard reeling in 3 locations this year - the farm normally holds at least 6 pairs. A notable omission this year is Lesser Whitethroat - there has been at least one on the reserve every year for the last 5. It is also good to see Stonechat breeding on the reserve - first fledglings reported on 22 May.



Creating suitable habitat for rare plantsThis winter seems to have been a super busy time for the Cornwall Wildlife Trusts West Cornwall Nature Reserves Team. In the autumn we were still putting the finishing touches on our Predannack Airfield grazing infrastructure which means we will no longer be required to install 13km of temporary fencing each year.

Predannack military signLast week I attended one of our biannual Predannack Airfield Conservation Committee meetings, representing the National Trust with our partners from Natural England and Cornwall Wildlife Trust, alongside the Royal Navy, DIO and others. It got me thinking as to how things have changed......

About fifteen years ago, I first attended a Predannack meeting in the air traffic control tower. How very out of place I felt, surrounded by men in uniform talking in acronyms, addressing each other by 'sir' and frankly showing dubious interest in wildlife or conservation. The 'War on Terror' had just started, Afghanistan was about to kick-off, and, understandably, defence of the realm gave priority over defence of a few rare plants.

WWII discoveries at Windmill Farm Nature Reserve

Pill boxesWe knew Windmill Farm Nature Reserve had WWII buildings scattered across the site associated with Predannack Airfield. The best preserved being the three Pill boxes situated near to the information centre, but it was not until we started to look more carefully at the hedgerows as part of our hedge laying and coppicing programme that we discovered more archaeological gems. Four more Pill boxes have been unearthed that we had no idea existed. Two of them sit side by side on a Cornish hedge. The Hedge was coppiced this winter and the Pillboxes can now see the light of day once more and look to be in excellent condition.

Published: April 2013
Author: Nick Marriott - Cornwall Wildlife Trust West Cornwall Reserves Manager