Thursday, 14 August 2014

Penrose Access Project Completion



Over the past year, the team at Penrose have been working with walkers, cyclists, disability groups and horse riders to improve and upgrade the outdoor experience for visitors to Penrose. Projects have included opening a brand new bridleway from Porthleven, across the fields of Higher Penrose farm with stunning views of Mounts Bay; tarmacking the route from Helston to The Stables; and replacing the old boardwalk at the head of Carminowe Creek. The practical improvements on the footpaths and bridleways are now mostly complete thanks to local contractors and volunteers.


Now all the work is mostly finished, we’d like to hear your views on the trails at Penrose. There are three different questionnaires, depending on if you’re a horse rider, run a local business, or you’re a local resident. We’d really appreciate your feedback, so if you’d like to help us, please click on the relevant link below: 




Horse riders:

Local residents:

Local businesses:

If you don’t fit into any of these categories, but are a visitor to Penrose we are also carrying out user surveys, so if you pass us out and about waving a piece of paper at you, please stop and have a chat! You’ll notice us- we’re the ones dressed in bright red!

Thank you,
Mike, Laura and Greg
(Penrose Ranger Team)

With thanks to DEFRA and Natural England. This project is funded through the RDPE programme.

New Wetlands for Wildlife

The largest scrape being dug at Grochall nr Kynance
In common with many conservation organisations nationally, we’ve been doing our bit to try to reverse the long-term decline in the number of ponds in the wider countryside.

Thanks to funding through Higher Level Stewardship schemes and the Millennium Million Ponds Project administered by Pond Conservation (now renamed the Freshwater Habitats Trust), we’ve dug over 15 new ponds and scrapes on National Trust land on The Lizard in the last 4 years.

At Grochall, 10 new ponds were dug in 2011 in rush pastures close to the heathland of Lizard Downs, with the aim of giving a quiet refuge for wildlife. Some of the ponds hold water all year and have proven popular with dragonflies, and others are shallow seasonal scrapes, great for water beetles and other rapid colonisers.

new scrape on Predannack Airfield (photo JC)
Spurred on by the success of these first ponds, we went on in 2012 to undertake a more ambitious project on Predannack Airfield, the southern half of which is owned by the National Trust. The Airfield was built, as many were, as part of the WW2 war effort, and it remains a military airfield today, being a satellite site to RNAS Culdrose. With the MoD’s support, we were able to reinstate long lost scrapes and trackways shown on an 1880 map, but redundant and overgrown since the 1940s.

We’ve had some fantastic exciting news in recent weeks, with the discovery of two plants of conservation concern in the large new scrape on the airfield, on a June 2014 visit with our Cornwall Botanical Recorders. Pillwort is a rare and unusual grass like creeping fern that thrives in seasonal acid pools. It is named after its distinctive round sporocarps (reproductive bodies) found at the base of the fronds. Pillwort is a Biodiversity Action Plan Species, and is classed as near threatened nationally, so it was great to see it in abundance, forming light green mats in the shallows.

the rare grass like fern, pillwort (CWT)
It was also fantastic to find the delicate little flowers of yellow centaury on the newly scraped bare mud, a nationally scarce plant of the gentian family. Both pillwort and yellow centaury are esteemed members of the ‘puddle gang’. These are rare plants for which the Lizard is famous, growing in selected trackways and heathland scrapes which are seasonally damp.
Yellow centaury (CWT)

new pond in an arable field at Tregullas, Lizard village
Our 3 newest ponds were completed at Tregullas, The Lizard in October 2013, and unlike those at Grochall and Predannack which were on or near heathland, these ponds are very much about giving farmland wildlife a helping hand. The  ponds are in the corners of arable fields south of Lizard village, between the village and Bass Point, and should be deep enough to hold water year round, drought years excepted. So far so good! This area historically had several ponds associated with brick clay extraction, but all had been infilled by the 1970s. We therefore wanted to put wetlands back in the landscape, and give farmland wildlife a boost. Within a few weeks a snipe was spotted probing the edges of the ponds, and swallows swoop low over the surface as they take insects on the wing. And a handy bi-product of these new ponds has been a steady supply of lovely modelling clay for our kids events!

Looking to the future, we would love to be able to get in place some more detailed monitoring of our new wetlands (do shout if you are a dab hand with water beetles), and we have plans for further HLS funded scrapes to the north of Predannack Airfield, on farmland that was once heathland at Teneriffe.

Taken in the context of all the other great work done to reinstate ponds and trackways by our conservation partners locally, for example CWT/CBWPS at Windmill Farm, and NE/St Keverne Parish Council, then it feels that we really have taken great strides forward for wetland wildlife on the Lizard in the last few years, proving how a little water and mud here and there can add up to an awful lot of new and improved habitat! 

Rachel 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Having a wild time on the Lizard


Children climbing treeChildren and their families have had an exciting few months on the Lizard thanks to the Wild Lizard Project. And they're not the only ones, my name is Megan Adams. I joined the Linking the Lizard team in April, as the first Wild Lizard Intern. Working with Wild Lizard Ranger Claire Scott, I have been helping out with the 100s of children and young people the Wild Lizard Project gets outside to enjoy and learn more about the incredible surroundings we have on the Lizard. Since starting in April I have helped schools pitch camp and brave the wilds during bushcraft survival days and shared my ID skills and as pupils submerged themselves in different habitats, searching rockpools and dragonfly ponds for the incredible life that lives there.



BushcraftSeveral schools have made the most of the projects' bushcraft expertise taking part in one-off days of Climate Change Survival. Grade Ruan and Manaccan Primary schools headed to Poltesco valley for shelter building from natural materials, baking bread over the fire and scaring off invaders with scary clay faces. While Landewednack School took an expedition to Tremayne Woods for two days of survival skills, including fire lighting, camouflage and team rescue games. Secondary school pupils from Mullion explored the science of using different plants for water, food, fire and signalling while on a day of nature exploration at Bochym.

Schools have also been taking the chance to get students outdoors to continue their learning. Primary schools from Mullion and Cury have headed each week to Higher Bochym, part of the National Nature Reserve, to make the most of the yurt, ponds and meadow. Taking part in maths trails of quadrats and patterns, to seed planting and story telling and even a noisy day of making musical interments from bamboo!
With outings most weeks to beaches around the Lizard and Helford for rockpooling students from Constantine, Mawnan, Landewednack and Mullion, and I have been learning all about the amazing seashore diversity we have along our coast. Making the day memorable with sea creature based art, games as well as the all important rummage in the rockpools.

Wild Lizard, rockpooling Wild Lizard, rockpooling

With summer holidays coming up Wild Lizard Project will be making sure that visitors and residents have the chance to get out and engage with their environment with activities planned throughout the holidays. We started out with our first ever family Wild Camp, a two day stay at Tremayne Woods with night walks, green woodworking and bat detecting, it was fully booked, which we hope sets a precedent for years to come.

Following last years success Go Wild Bushcraft Club will be running again throughout August, with children attending each week, building their skills and confidence in bushcraft techniques. The National Nature Reserve at Kennack Sands will host free weekly rockpooling and beach craft activities of all ages, during Wild Wednesdays through out the holidays. Pop up events will also be happening at local Teneriffe Campsite with natural crafts, chances to explore the area and plans to introduce evening wildlife activities.
Roll on Summer and hope to see you there!


Wild Lizard, Kennack Sands, rockpooling Wild Lizard, Intern, bushcraft


- Megan

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Monday, 14 July 2014

Lots of happy Germans!

Yes lots of happy Germans, and this was even before last night's World Cup Victory! Here on The Lizard we welcome lots of international visitors every year, with the Continent well represented, particulary the Netherlands and Germany. Lizard Wireless Station is well geared up for visitors from further afield, with translation sheets on hand in all the major European languages. Mainly because we all flounder a bit when it comes to explaining a spark transmitter in Spanish!
Pictured are a regular German walking tour group who call by on Sundays in the summer months. Thanks John for giving them such an enjoyable tour. Lizard Wireless Station is run entirely by our merry band of volunteers, so if you would like to get involved and make more visitors this happy, please do get in touch! For museum opening times, see lizardwireless.org

Rachel

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Open Farm Sunday Success



 

The Amiss family and ourselves were really pleased with how Open Farm Sunday at Tregullas went. Tregullas was one of over 300 farms throwing open its gates for this national event.

Tregullas Farm is owned by the National Trust, and the event was organised jointly by us and the new tenants, Rona and Nevil Amiss. It was a fantastic afternoon and the event was really well attended with a mix of local families and visitors making the most of the sunshine to join us on the farm. It was encouraging to see so many people taking an interest in the countryside and where their food comes from, and how coastal farming can be great for wildlife like the chough. Everyone liked hand feeding the young goats, and families couldn’t wait to climb aboard the huge new tractor! The sheep shearing demonstration gathered a crowd, and our education team had all sorts of fun on offer, including making mini sheep with wool from the farm. The mini farmers market was popular, with local cakes, flowers, crafts and eggs on sale. Welcome refreshments and a BBQ were also on offer in aid of Landewednack School and Landewednack Guides (senior section). 






 

 


Tregullas is one of the most important farms for wildlife in Cornwall, with many rare plants on the cliffs, as well as breeding chough, Open Farm Sunday gave people the opportunity to find out more with displays and guided walks. Nevil led three farm walks, touring the barley and vegetable crops, and meeting the sheep, goats and cattle. Rona and Nevil have only been farming at Tregullas since September, and it’s been a busy year for them so far. They are very passionate about producing high quality food in a way that is wildlife friendly, and said they enjoyed having the opportunity to share what they are doing with so many interested visitors at Open Farm Sunday.
 
We’d all like to thank everyone locally who volunteered their time and energy into making this day such a success.

Entries for the kids photography competition are welcomed, with prizes kindly donated by Cornwall Farmers and Mole Valley Farmers. Please send your entires to sales@tregullasfarm.co.uk by 5pm Friday 20th June.

- Rachel

Monday, 16 June 2014

Chough chicks fledge



On Saturday 7th June at 3.50pm the team of National Trust and RSPB volunteers, who have spent hundreds of hours watching the choughs this season, were delighted by the appearance of 3 healthy chicks from the nest cave. 


Photo: Terry Thirlaway


To see the new Lizard Point pair successfully raise a family this year is absolutely fantastic. All the hours of monitoring, nest protection and awareness raising has paid off for the new pair at Lizard Point. The newly fledged chicks took a few tentative steps or 'hops' out of the cave on the 7th, and just 8 days later  they are now off on the wing, spending most of the day feeding with their parents along the cliffs west of Lizard Point.

Photo: Terry Thirlaway

Photo: Terry Thirlaway

The chicks can stay with their parents for up to 8 weeks and will use this time getting to know the surrounding area. Although their favoured places to feed are along the cliffs between Lizard and Kynance, occasionally you will see them flying as far as Mullion or Cadgwith for feeding trips.  Now is the best time to see the choughs and their young here on the Lizard. Come and visit our Wildlife Watchpoint at Lizard Point where our volunteers will give you up to date information on the choughs and other wildlife in the area. We are open 10 am - 4 pm daily.

If you are around this weekend, we are leading a guided walk to see the new  family of Cornish choughs. Meet us this Sunday at 10am at the National Trust Car Park at Kynance for a guided walk to see wild Cornish Choughs. On route you will be introduced to the choughs and some of the other fantastic wildlife that surrounds Kynance Cove. Our Rangers will be on hand to tell you more about the history of choughs in Cornwall and talk you through the growing conservation effort supporting the chough's natural recolonisation. The walk will last approximately 2hrs. Please wear strong walking boots and suitable outdoor clothing. Dogs welcome but must be on leads. There is a charge of £2.50 per person (additional car parking charges apply to non members). For more information call 01326 291174 or email catherine.lee@nationaltrust.org.uk


As the young family head out to the cliffs to find food can we ask a favour from you? 
Please ensure you do not unnecessarily disturb the choughs. They are quite sociable birds so if you sit quietly often they will come quite close and you'll get super views, but if you try and get too close to them you may frighten them off. If you have a dog can you please ensure he / she is under control around the new family. Many thanks in advance, and good luck spotting the choughs. 

If you see the choughs please let us know at the wildlife watchpoint, you can also send in your sightings to the RSPB: cornishchoughs@rspb.org.uk 

- Cat

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