National Trust scything a way forward
National Trust Rangers on the Lizard are turning back the clocks, by putting their faith in the humble scythe. These simple tools, which were the only way to gather in the harvest of hay and corn just a few generations ago, are making a come back for tasks such as cutting footpaths.
Martin McDowall Ranger for the National Trust explains “We care for over 10 miles of paths on the Lizard, which require anything up to 3 cuts per year. I’m a convert when it comes to scythes. Modern ones are light and can be adjusted in a myriad of ways, so they can be set up for comfort. It’s so nice not to have the weight of a strimmer to carry around, nor the fuel, and it’s much more pleasant to be able to work without the noise and fumes of a petrol engine, even if it is a little slower. It’s less intrusive for the public too, and doesn’t scare wildlife.”
The Lizard National Nature Reserve
- Expanding The Lizard National Nature Reserve
- Click here to view the BBC Spotlight news bulletin coverage of the extension of The Lizard NNR in August 2016.
The Lizard Peninsula is one of the best places in the country for wildlife, with a wealth of rare plants, invertebrates and habitats that make visiting the area a must for nature lovers.
National Nature Reserves give recognition to the UK’s very best sites for wildlife, and The Lizard NNR, first declared in the 1970s, and managed by Natural England, covers nearly 2000ha of spectacular heath and coastline. The NNR will shortly be extended by 470ha to include additional wildlife rich areas, in the care of The National Trust and Cornwall Wildlife Trust. The enlarged reserve will stretch from Mullion Cove in the west, across Goonhilly Downs in the centre of the peninsula, to Lowland Point, near Coverack in the east.
The Helford River Survey– regular long term monitoring of the Helford intertidal areas
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.
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.
Seaquest and Saving Our Dolphins
Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Seaquest Southwest Programme is taking action to conserve Cornwall’s enigmatic bottlenose dolphins by stepping up its research programme, joining forces with the Lizard Watch Point, and getting our local population on Britain’s wildlife map.
At the end of July, Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Seaquest Southwest Project came to the Lizard. The Project had a training event booked in with local Lizard Watch Point volunteers; to learn the methodologies and skills to carry out Seaquest effort based surveys for marine megafauna such as dolphins, porpoises and whales. Expecting to only be joined by one or two keen naturalists, our Seaquest Project officer Matt Thurlow was blown away to find the room full of enthusiastic volunteers - local people keen to learn more about their surrounding environment and do their bit to record and protect it.
Seaquest Southwest is a citizen science marine recording project run in conjunction with Devon Wildlife Trust which relies on people like those at the Lizard Watch Point to achieve its aims. For over 20 years the Project has been recording the distribution and abundance of our most charismatic marine wildlife; including dolphins, sharks, whales, porpoises, seals, sunfish and much more. The project incorporates sighting records sent in by the public with structured surveys conducted by trained volunteers, to better understand and monitor these species around the South West. Only with evidence-based records of occurrence, behaviour and ecology can we act to better protect and conserve these wonderful animals around our coasts.
Marsh fritillary Survey 2016
Over the last two years, researchers based at the Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter have been undertaking surveys and research on the Marsh fritillary on the Lizard. Our main conclusions are that this butterfly remains extremely localised (occurs on only a handful of sites) and vulnerable to extinction. We have recently produced a report card which summarises our knowledge about the Marsh fritillary, and how best to manage the Lizard landscape for its continued survival. This document is uploaded onto the website, so please take time to read it and hopefully it will inspire you to go out and look for the autumn webs, which while are not as attractive as the adult butterflies are interesting nonetheless.
Windmill Farm Report Spring and Early Summer
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.