Bluebell bonanza

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Right now is the time to get out and about on the coast path and witness one of those seasonal magic moments. At Pentire Head the bluebells are looking their best, with parts of the cliff swathed in the blue flowers. Bluebells are more often associated with woodland, but are also common on unimproved grasslands. In the warm, moist climate of the south west bluebells can thrive too on the more sheltered aspects of the cliffs. Careful management with scrub cutting and then grazing prevents the grasslands being over run with gorse, thorn, brambles and aggressive grasses, instead allowing space for our delicate coastal wildflowers to flourish. The photos here were taken in the meadow just east of Lead Mines on the coast path towards Lundy Bay.
Of course there are dozens more different species of flower starting to bloom on the coast – do you know your spring squill from your kidney vetch, or sea campion from birds-foot trefoil? If you would like to brush up on your wild flower knowledge and find out more about how the Trust manages these amazing maritime grasslands join us on our Wildflower Guided Walk around Pentire on Sunday 14 June at 10am. Book your places on 01208 863046. Click on the events tab above to find full details.
Mike – Lead ranger

Reporting ringed birds

BTO ring

It is not uncommon, unfortunately, to come across dead sea birds on our shores whilst out and about on the coast. They may have met their end due to natural causes, but perhaps also due to pollution or stormy seas preventing them feeding sufficiently.

During my recent Christmas break I was in North Wales, exploring one of the beaches on the Llyn Peninsula when I came across the remains of a bird. I was quite surprised to find it still had a metal ID ring on it. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) host a co-ordinated and Europe-wide website for reporting ring numbers, so should you ever find one the info stamped on the side will probably point you towards this website where you can fill in a brief report including the ID number. You will generally receive a reply and it’s fascinating what you can find out. My reply revealed the following information:

Ringing Scheme: London
Ring Number: 1470594
Species of bird: Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
This bird was ringed by Scan R.G as age nestling, sex unknown on 28-Jun-2014 time unknown at Puffin Island, Isle of Anglesey, UK
It was found on 02-Jan-2015 time unknown at Afon Dwyfor, near Criccieth, Gwynedd, UK
It was found 188 days after it was ringed, 49 km from the ringing site, direction SSW.

Bird Ringing in Britain & Ireland is organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Each year over 900,000 birds are ringed by over 2,500 highly trained bird ringers, most of whom are volunteers. They follow a careful training process that can take several years to complete to ensure that they have the necessary skills to catch and ring birds. The bird’s welfare is always the most important consideration during ringing activities. Ringing began over 100 years ago to study the movements of birds. While it continues to generate information about movements, it also allows us to study how many young birds leave the nest and survive to breed as adults, as well as how many adults live from year to year and how many birds disperse to different breeding sites. Collection of this information helps us to understand why bird populations increase or decrease − vital information for conservation. Details of how many birds have been caught and where and when they have been found are available on the BTO website.

Some interesting facts discovered from ringing data….
Oldest bird – Manx shearwater, 50 yrs 11 months
Furthest travelled – Arctic Tern from Wales to Australia 18,000 km
Strangest recovery – Osprey ring found in stomach of a crocodile in The Gambia!

Mike – Lead Ranger

Geology Rocks! Tuesday 28 October

Geology Rocks walk photo by Jenny Lord
Join us on a guided walk
Geology Rocks! Pentire Head, near Polzeath.
Interpret the coastal landscape from a different perspective – join local expert Jane Anderson to guide us through the geological history of the area. With insights from National Trust rangers on wildlife and history too, this should prove to be a fascinating walk.

Meet at the National Trust Lead Mines car park, near New Polzeath. Grid reference SW 941 799, PL27 6QY
11am – 3pm
Wear suitable walking gear and bring refreshments, a packed lunch and binoculars if you have them.
£3 per person
Booking essential 01208 863046

Coast path at Porth Mear reopens

Porth Mear valley

Picture 006
Just a quick update to advise walkers that the County Council have now reinstated the footbridge on the Coast Path at Porth Mear, near Porthcothan. It was lost in the winter storms and there has been a diversion in place for a while. The bridge and path is now fully open once more. See post at:
Mike – Head Ranger

Building bridges

One of the casulaties of the winter storms was a wooden footbridge on the coast path at Baby Bay, New Polzeath. The entire structure was uprooted by the storm surge and rendered beyond repair. So a new bridge has been constructed and we are pleased to say that this has now been installed. Like the first bridge it has been made out of green oak and the heavy timbers should last many a year. The individual pieces were manoeuvred into position by hand and the bridge was constructed on site with the help of our volunteer rangers.
Also helping was Ben Spicer from Cornish Rock Tors which is our local ‘ambassador’ business offering kayaking, coasteering and climbing activities to our visitors. The Trust has been working with Ben for over a year now, and following the storms this winter he was keen to help ‘put something back’ repairing a part of the coast where he lives and works. It also takes the partnership with National Trust a step further with Cornish Rock Tors being able to get involved with a hands on project on the local property.
We are also very grateful for a donation from a private sponsor which covered the cost of the replacement.
Mike – Head Ranger

Giant Steps

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Local legend tells of the giant Bedruthan who used some rocky stacks as stepping stones for a shortcut across the beach. True tale or Victorian invention, we’ll be needing some legendary helpers to repair our stone pitched steps on the South West Coast Path. Join us for a day on Saturday 5th April replacing some of the stone with oak and get that feel good factor knowing that thousands of visitors will be appreciating your handy work. No experience necessary. Meet: Carnewas car park, SW 850 690 PL27 7UW Free parking for all helpers for the day.

Tools, gloves and tuition: all provided by National Trust
Bring: food and drink, footwear and clothing suitable for the weather and task
Free. 10am – 4pm

Further details please call the Rangers on 01208 863821
or email