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.
Crop wild relatives on the Lizard
The Lizard peninsular is well known for its biodiversity importance but the importance of its genetic diversity is only just being realised. Research undertaken by Birmingham University in 2013 has shown The Lizard to be one of the UK’s ‘hotspots’ for the wild relatives of crop plants. These species are an increasingly important resource for human society; many plants potentially have a future role in the security of our food.
Crops have been developing over millennia by farmers using traditional breeding methods, and more recently by plant breeders incorporating specific genes into crops to produce new varieties. As a result of this prolonged human intervention modern crops have relatively low genetic diversity; they can be at greater risk to new diseases and pests as a result.
Birding on the south-west Lizard
Around and about Lizard Point is known as a good area for birding, but travel a bit further north and west, and there is plenty to see. The whole area is well served by a network of footpaths, most of which have The Lizard village as a hub, so the best sites are all very accessible.
Kynance Cove and Valleys
There are two valleys leading down to Kynance Cove (SW684134), both of which have scattered scrub, reed, iris and saw sedge beds, with further denser scrub and willow carr developing further up the valleys onto the heath.
Access to the lower stretches from the carpark is very easy, but frequently narrow, wet and often overgrown tracks allow somewhat restricted access to the upper valley areas.
The valleys hold and funnel migrants with nearby open heath, and host breeding sedge, willow with occasional grasshopper warblers, chiffchaff and blackcap.