457 species Found at Sandymouth Bioblitz !

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The North Cornwall team had a great day last weekend, hosting our first Bioblitz.

BioBlitzes are an intense, biological survey bonanza held over one day in a designated area. The North Cornwall ranger team held the final of the National Trust’s Coastal Bioblitzes at Sandymouth (3 October). We were joined by scientists, naturalists and members of the public to work together to find as many living species as possible in one day.P1000252

A good day was had by all, even the weather held out for us. In total 457 species have been recorded, a phenomenal number for the area. Events like these are important in helping know the distribution of species as well as having a fun day out and getting to know nature up close. A big thank you to the experts and volunteers who came to join us, and everyone who took part. The National Trust will be running more again next year so we hope to see you then.

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Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria)

Along the coastal grasslands, botanical walks were led by the BSBI County Recorder, Ian Bennallick. After a day of surveying he reported back that the event had found a whopping 370 species, adding 103 vascular plant species to the known 1999 records for this site. This included the rare Deptford pink, a wild relative of the popular carnation, which the site is partly managed for. A variety of birds including stonechats, skylarks, a kestrel and the iconic herring gull where all also spotted. It shows you that even simple looking grassland can be full of surprises.

In the tent, not cakes but butterflies were to be found, from small coppers to brimstones. Members of the public along with our expert, Alan Rowland, brought along what they had caught in the bug hunt trails where dark spiny bush crickets were joined by delicate emerald coloured lacewings. Moths that had been caught the night before included the ‘L-Album Wainscot’ a species that our expert, Mary Atkinson, had never caught in this country before. It makes the L Album one of our more unusual species, being at its northern most range.

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Down on the beach, rock pooling lead in conjunction with the Marine Conservation Society, found a myriad of sea life from algae to mussels. Covering some rocks where honeycomb reef worms, which build a delicate pocket like structure from sand that any architect would be proud of. Even with the tide out, nine different fish species were found hiding in the rock rools. This including the familiar face of the common blenny (shanny), a small feisty fish that when the tides goes out can hide itself away in small rock crevices out of water! Next time you are rock pooling look out for them.

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As dusk approached people gathered to go on a walk lead by Tony Atkinson from the Cornwall Bat Group. Bat detectors at the ready, lesser horseshoe and common pipistrelle bats were both heard and seen. The resident barn owl remained elusive, however we did find its prey species, field voles and wood mice.

Volunteers rebuild Cornish Hedge

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Last Sunday our team of enthusiastic volunteers helped to rebuild a collapsed wall near Northcott beach.

The wall has been eroded over the years by sheep and people climbing on it.

The area was prepped by the ranger team, who brought in large amounts of stone. A digger was used to excavate the collapsed hedge, and earth was moved for the largest stones to be put in as foundations.

The team started working on the hedge, carefully placing each stone in the right position. Earth was then compacted behind the stones.

Good progress was made. What looked like a construction site is now a magnificent traditional Cornish Hedge.

The hedge has been a boundary for several centuries helping to keep livestock out.  It is a great habitat for wildlife – small mammals burrow in the crevices, and it is a refuge for flowering plants and invertebrates seeking shelter from the relentless Atlantic coast.

To join us on any of our conservation volunteer days please contact the Boscastle to Morwenstow Ranger team on 01288331372 or basil.stow@nationaltrust.org.uk

Rangers Flex some Muscle

WP_20150730_10_43_58_ProWP_20150730_12_16_54_Pro WP_20150730_13_32_28_ProLast week the Boscastle ranger team moved the stepping stones in the fantastic Valency valley of Boscastle.  Following a rise in water level in the winter the stepping stones had been dragged down the river several metres making it almost impassable.

We put the huge stones back in place by using a winch, which was connected to the trusty land rover. We then rolled the stones using iron bars and raw man (and woman!) power.  We now have stepping stones joining up the footpaths for everyone to enjoy the wonderful wooded valley.

Final Balsam Pull of 2015

We’ve come to the end of our balsam pulling in the Valency Valley for this year, with the volunteers going out for their last day earlier in the week. It has been a really successful season and we were all delighted when we reached Boscastle last week. This is the first time in many years we’ve managed to pull balsam along the whole stretch of the river before it starts to set seed. Which just goes to show all our hard work is paying off!

We’ve seen some great parts of the valley we don’t normally get too, which also turned out to be a haven for silver washed fritillaries and dippers.

Thank you very much to all our hard working volunteers who showed up every week with determination, we absolutely couldn’t have done it without you.

2015 balsam pull team Colin and balsam Silver Washed Fritillary

Basil and Balsam

All Hands on Deck for Valency Valley Himalayan Balsam Pull

We’ve got our first balsam pull of the season coming up next Tuesday (2 June).

Himalayan balsam is a non-native species which supresses the growth of native British plants growing along our riverbanks. It forms thick stems which prevent other species from colonising and when it dies back in the winter it exposes sections of riverbank leaving it susceptible to erosion. The weed has explosive seed pods which carry readily down water courses so it is important to get rid of the balsam before these ripen.

Come and have a fun day out and help us remove Himalayan balsam from the beautiful Valency Valley so the native wildlife here can flourish.

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Marking the way for a new year

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Over 50 miles of footpaths have been covered over the last few weeks as we have been busy finishing our open structures survey for the property. This involved checking the conditions of all our footpaths and structures to make sure everything is looking its best and is in good working order.

On the not so sunny days last week we began making some waymarkers which will replace the rotting ones along the coast path. These were made out of oak which lasts longer than softwood and doesn’t need to be chemically treated. We use a router to engrave the wood and have to be careful not to make any mistakes otherwise we end up with very expensive firewood!

Here is Sarah, one of the volunteer rangers standing proudly next to the waymaker she made. Look out for it on the Dizzard between Crackington Haven and Millook.

Boscastle to Morwenstow ranger team

Beach Clean weekend

What an exciting weekend! Spring equinox, super low tides and a solar eclipse.

We also had a great turnout at two of our beach cleans, with about 30  people at Sandymouth on Friday, and another 20 who tacked the climb down to Strangles on Sunday. A huge thanks to all those who came to give us a hand. We were lucky with some great weather and managed to collect loads of rubbish from both beaches.

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Boscastle to Morwenstow ranger team