Friday, 10 July 2015

Pirates and seashore treasures: a Wild Lizard Project week of work experience

I’m Elsa Amiss, I live in the Lizard and I have just finished my first year in 6th form at Helston College. This week I have been experiencing life as a Wild Lizard Education Ranger with Claire Scott.  Amazing things happen at Poltesco and around the Lizard, with innovative and exciting outdoor learning days for local schools. This week, classes from Mullion Primary School came out to Poltesco as part of their seashore treasure and pirate project. I helped to prepare and deliver activities that included collecting natural treasures, making and floating paper boats and creating monstrous sea creatures all in the fantastic setting of Carleon Cove. The weather was perfect and the children delightful especially as most seemed to be convinced I have magic ice powers, the film Frozen has a lot to answer for!

Launching pirate ships down the river, the mud didn't quite make it over my wellies!
Claire Scott the Wild Lizard Ranger weaving a tale of plundering pirates and deep sea monsters.
 Thursday must have been the best view for anyone on work experience as I spent the day at the National Trust's Lizard Watch Point spotting seals and chatting about the area to visitors. The seals are lovely to observe and having the watch point there means that visitors can ask questions to find out more about the fascinating wildlife in our area.
Having an insight to the day to day running of the Wild Lizard Project has been a fantastic opportunity with plenty of entertaining moments, knee deep in mud launching ships, building a sea grotto and creating sea monsters. I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Wild Lizard Project and playing a role in growing children’s confidence with being outdoors and discovering just how amazing the Lizard is.
Children from Mullion Primary School taking the paper pirate boat challenge

There are lots of opportunities over summer to join in with the project and with brilliant from woodland craft days and seashore safaris throughout August there is lots going on. Check out the Facebook page for the lastest information about events:

Monday, 29 June 2015

Playing Our Part – the Lizard & Penrose’s place in the Trust’s strategy to 2025

Lizard Coastline
Earlier this year, the National Trust launched an ambitious plan to nurse the natural environment back to health and reverse the alarming decline in wildlife – warning that time was running out to save the countryside from further harm.

Climate change now poses the single biggest threat to the places the Trust looks after, bringing new, damaging threats to a natural environment already under-pressure decades of unsustainable land management, which has undermined the long-term health of the land.

The Trust said it would challenge itself to develop new, innovative ways of managing land on a large scale, which were good for farmers, good for the economy and good for the environment. It also pledged to work with partners to help look after some of the country’s most important landscapes, reconnecting habitats and bringing back their natural beauty.

This is a really exciting time to work for the Trust and having worked here for over 20 years, with the strength of the conservation charity really behind what we want to do for the land, for wildlife and for people. This is a long term strategy with four key areas in which we want to work:

Looking after our places
Mullion Harbour Day

  • It’s really important we look after what we already own to the best of our abilities. We want to make sure that all our land and buildings are in the best possible condition and that the type of farming or land use that is taking place on it is the most appropriate kind. 
  • We need to play our part in mitigating climate change and cutting our energy usage is really important but we’ll also look to increase the amount of energy we generate through renewable sources, such as solar panels on the roofs of modern farm buildings or wood fuel systems to heat houses

Loe Pool
Healthy, beautiful natural environment
  • Our tenant farmers are critical to delivering our conservation objectives and through them we want to improve all our land to a good condition and allow people to enjoy and experience the nature and beauty that their work creates. 
  • We will continue to work with other organisations, such as Natural England and the Wildlife Trust to make our places and the habitats that they form, part of something that is bigger, better and more joined up. We’ve started on this already in our partnership working with Linking the Lizard and the Loe Pool forum and this will grow in the coming years.

Experiences of our places that move, teach and inspire people

Mullion Harbour Da
  • We've vibrant communities in Helston, Porthleven and on the Lizard and many visitors who love coming to Cornwall on holiday and by offering everyone a great experience wherever they go, from Penrose’s walled garden to the Wildlife Watchpoint at the Lizard, or simply by providing great access to amazing places we can help them really connect with nature and beauty and inspire them to support our cause.

Helping to look after the places people live

Local Foraging Walk
For many of our communities the cliffs, beaches and Coast Path is their local green space and the place they visit to relax and unwind, or take exercise. Penrose offers this in abundance for the people of Porthleven and Helston with many miles of new footpaths and improved routes.

The strategy calls on the National Trust to respond to the threats posed by climate change and unsustainable land management and play its part in new ways: achieving a step change in how we look after our own countryside, and reaching out to partners and communities beyond our boundaries to meet the challenges we face at this moment in our history.
Here at the Lizard and Penrose we have a strong base to build on, a knowledgeable and committed team who have been working in partnership with others for many years, a growing body of volunteers who support us in what we do, tenant farmers who understand soils, water and wildlife and some of the most beautiful and nature rich places in the country which can’t help but inspire people!

- Al Cameron (General Manager)

Monday, 22 June 2015

Help record the 'Sounds of our Shores' this summer

I’m really very excited about the new 'Sounds of our Shores' project that launches today. Find out what we are up to and how you can get involved by clicking on this audio clip or by reading the blog below:

Children recording coastal sounds at Birling Gap, East Sussex
As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the Neptune Coastline Campaign National Trust are working with National Trust for Scotland and the British Sound Library to create the first ever coastal sound map; an archive of new and old coastal sounds from across the UK. We can’t do this alone, we need your help. 

Over the next three months we are asking you go out to your local coast or a new stretch of coast and to discover and record the sounds that you hear there. You can then upload them to the 'Sounds of our Shores' audio boom channel.

You don’t need any fancy equipment to do this, by all means if you have sound recording equipment do use it, but equally if you've got a smart phone or a camera that records video and sound you can use those too. There are some great tips on our website on how to get the best out of your recordings and on how to upload them to the sound map via the 
 'Sounds of our Shores' audio boom channel.

We want to know what sounds are important to you and why they are so special.

You might not consider some of your everyday sounds to be special, but in 10 or 20 years some of those sounds may change or disappear. Let me give you an example: When I first visited the Lizard, over 10 years ago, the foghorn was a fantastic deep low rumbling sound, a sound that you could feel through the base of your feet and it travelled right up through your body. (Old Foghorn recorded by Edwin Carter): 

Today the frequency of the foghorn is almost twice as high, apparently the higher pitch travels better and further making it easier for passing ships to hear it.

listen to ‘Current Lizard Lighthouse foghorn’ on audioBoom. The new fog horn certainly goes through you, but it's not the same as the old foghorn. Had the old foghorn not been recorded that sound would have been lost and I would miss it. Wouldn’t you?

Not only is the ‘Sounds of our Shores’ a chance to make a collection of important sounds, it is an opportunity to recognise and appreciate what sounds are important to us and why they are so special. 

Listening back will make you smile
Similar to a memorable song, sound has a wonderful way of bringing us back to a moment in time, a place or emotional space. Sound touches us in a way that we can’t feel unless we really listen. Sound is so important in our lives, yet we take little time to appreciate it, which is I’m so excited about this project: not only do I get a chance to share the sounds that I hear and think are special but I also get to hear what sounds you hear, and what sounds you think are special.

Sometimes it's difficult to listen, quite often when I first sit down I’m confronted with all the thoughts of what I've got to do tomorrow or the next day. Once these thoughts drift away, suddenly I start to hear things I couldn't hear before. I notice the bird singing in the background and the man walking along the beach with his dog. I become more aware of what is going on around me and I feel better connected to the place I’m sitting in.

Using a smart phone to record at Wembury, Devon.

As well as contributing to a significant sound mapping project and sound archive, the‘Sounds of our Shores’ is also a perfect way of getting out and about to new places along the coast or exploring your local patch in a new way. There’s fun for all the family with this project, everyone can do it, so go on get out there, I want to hear what you hear!

What could you record

We are asking for sounds to be recorded along the UK coast, this can include waves crashing or rippling, footsteps in the sand, people laughing and playing on the beach, seagulls, choughs and other coastal birds, shanty singers, boat engines, winches, surfers, the sound of a busy café absolutely anything that you can hear on the coast. Here are a few of my favourite coastal sounds:

Choughs - no longer a common sound in Cornwall, but making a come back - the sound of a chough never fails to impress.

Ravens - I love the vocal sounds that adult ravens make they range of sounds they make are some of my true favourites. The sound of young ravens is not at all pleasant in terms of tone, but emotionally I absolutely love the sound. It reminds me of summer and of success as these new birds meet the world on the wing for the first time.

Warblers - coming to us from Africa in the spring the male sedge warbler sings his heart day and night until he finds a mate. Another favourite Lizard sound for me.

Fishing boat engine - on a calm sea at dawn I can't think of any better sound than the sound of a fishing boat engine chugging away. No doubt commercial fishing is a very tough job, but it paints a very romantic scene from the shore.

- Cat

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Cornwall’s new Chough Chicks: the class of 2015

  • It’s been another fantastic year for Choughs in Cornwall
  • Sixteen chicks are now emerging from their nests into the big wide world to join the growing chough population
  • RSPB and National Trust pay tribute to chough volunteers’ team

Young Cornish choughs will be spending the next few weeks perfecting their flying skills and following their parents as they search out the best places to find food. If they are lucky they will live on the coastal cliffs for the next fifteen years or so and go on to raise many chicks themselves.

Last week, as part of National Volunteering Week [1-7 June], the RSPB and National Trust in Cornwall are paying tribute to all the volunteers that give their time and skills to support conservation projects, especially at this time of year. The ‘Chough Watch’ team are a group of volunteers who help keep track of what is happening with all the pairs of choughs, not only keeping them safe and undisturbed but also acting as ambassadors for nature conservation.

Geoff Rogers from Camborne has volunteered an incredible 170 hours this season said; ‘Keeping watch over the chough pairs during the last three months, from early nest building to now watching newly fledged chicks take their first flight has been an opportunity for me to really get to know not only the choughs, but other wildlife too, I have seen otters playing in the surf, red kites soaring and grey seals catching a fish lunch, all during my chough watches! I love being outdoors and I know volunteering really does support the work of conservation organisations like the RSPB and National Trust’.

Claire Mucklow from the RSPB said; ‘Over the past 14 years hundreds of people have helped us with our chough related work as well as many other projects we run in Cornwall, we are so appreciative of all the time people like Geoff give because it really helps us to achieve more for wildlife. This year has been a challenging one, more pairs of choughs need more volunteers to watch over them -thanks to our brilliant devoted team we are coping, but we would welcome more help, so do get in touch with us if you think you would like to get involved. We would also like to thank the Tanner Trust for their kind donation to support our volunteer work.’

Tom Wilding has been volunteering for the National Trust at Lizard Point for the last few months to gain experience as he starts out on his career in nature conservation. Tom says; ‘being part of the ‘Chough Watch’ team means I now have experience and skills that will help me in the future, I’ve found it very rewarding, great fun, and this time spent volunteering will definitely put me ahead of others in the job hunting front!’

You can get an idea of what Tom's been up to and what it's like to volunteer on chough watch and the wildlife watchpoint here:

There are volunteering opportunities for all ages and abilities, you don’t need experience or fancy kit, just enthusiasm and some free time. For more information on choughs and volunteering for the RSPB contact either or

For opportunities to volunteer with the National Trust and choughs on the Lizard contact


Join us for a 'walk on the wild side' at Lizard Point, on route you will be introduced to the newly fledged choughs and some of the other fantastic wildlife that surrounds this unique area. 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. Meet at Lizard Point NT car park. £2.50 per person (additional parking charges apply to non-members). No need to book. For information call 01326 291174

- Cat

A Busy Open Farm Sunday

Open Farm Sunday held on 7th June was a great success at Tregullas, with 500 people taking the opportunity to visit the Amiss family’s farm in Lizard Village. Tregullas was one of over 300 farms open nationally in this the 10th year of Open Farm Sunday, but the only one that can lay claim to being the Most Southerly Farm on mainland Britain!

The event was jointly organised by the Amiss Family and the National Trust who own the farm, and proved to be a fantastic fun day out.

We’re keen to support Open Farm Sunday as it is a wonderful opportunity for everyone involved in agriculture to reach out to the public, and it gives folk the chance to find out more about farming today. It was great to see so many people interested in food and farming.

As ever the animals, including lambs, ducks, goats, and calves proved popular, and the chance to climb aboard a tractor is never one to be missed! This year Mr Dark from Mullion kindly brought across a vintage 1960s tractor with period plough, and their modern equivalent. The new tractor and plough dwarfed the older machinery, showing just how much farming has changed in the last 50 years

Also on offer were wildlife displays, ferret racing, rural craft demonstrations, including sheep shearing, wool spinning and green woodworking, kids crafts and games, plus refreshments were served in aid of Landewednack School and the Girl Guide Senior Section.


Thanks to everyone who helped make it such a lovely afternoon, and to all the folk who came along to join us on the farm.


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Strapwort comes home to Loe Pool

You might have read our previous post a few months ago on how we were preparing a site to reintroduce Stapwort, a plant that has been extinct at Loe Pool for 100 years (, last Thursday we planted out over 1000 seedlings in a trial reintroduction. 

Tracey (Conservation Officer at WWCT) 
The trays of seedlings ready to be delivered to the site.
Our partners on the project, Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT), safely delivered 15 trays of plug plants, which their horticulture team had grown from seed in the Paignton Zoo greenhouses. The team from WWCT joined the National Trust team to relocate the plants to their new home along the stoney shoreline of Loe Pool. 

Alex's area of study.
Also joining us was Alex, a student from Exeter University’s Penryn campus, who will be monitoring the survival rate and hopefully the spread of Strapwort over the summer.  Alex is going into his third year studying Conservation Biology and Ecology and this research will feed into his dissertation as well as informing the project team on the success of the reintroduction. Alongside this research we will also be carrying out plant counts later in the summer and in the following years to monitor how well the Strapwort is managing to set seed.

The strapwort is planted in areas of bare ground.
The water level of Loe Pool is relatively low at the moment and it should carry on dropping, which is ideal as the Strapwort needs a dry period in the summer. Clearing the site last winter means the scrub is no longer shading the shoreline and we will be carrying out careful management of the area to ensure the habitat is kept suitable. Winter strimming and hand weeding in the summer will help to reduce competition from other plants. We are aiming to keep this area open and free from scrub to encourage more wild flowers to grow alongside the footpath.
Clearing the site has also opened up views across Carminowe Creek to Loe Bar.


Friday, 29 May 2015

Bumper Broods and New Nests for Choughs in Cornwall

Lizard chough chick (3.5 weeks old) (photo: National Trust)
Teams of RSPB and National Trust volunteers have been watching chough nest sites across Cornwall again this spring. Despite a battering from some very strong and cold easterly winds, the 'Chough Watch' volunteers have put in many hours to make sure that disturbance around nest sites was kept to a minimum, and it has paid off!

Earlier this year the Lizard choughs threw in an unexpected surprise by settling into a new nest site, just east of their original nest at Lizard Point, where they have raised five chicks this year (3 females and 2 males); terrific news for all involved. Tony Cross, BTO (British Trust of Ornithology) bird ringer visited us last week to put colour rings on the chough chicks, this helps us to identify the choughs as individuals throughout their lives, which provides a wealth of scientific data. Tony's annual visit is always awaited with much anticipation as it is the day we find out how many chough chicks have been raised in the Duchy – there are at least 13 chicks with one nest still unchecked – another good year for Cornish choughs!

Two Lizard chough chicks (3.5 weeks old) (photo: National Trust)
Catherine Lee from National Trust on the Lizard says: 'It's a long time since the Lizard saw 5 chough chicks in one brood and it suggests that we are getting things right. Since the new tenant farmers, Rona and Nevil Amiss, arrivedat Britain's most southerly farm – Tregullas Farm, we've seen a marked improvement in the condition of the local habitat. Habitat and food availability play a huge part in the choughs' success, but there are other factors to consider such as disturbance, predation and of course the weather. Raising chicks is far from plain sailing but the fact that the choughs have managed to find enough food to fill 5 hungry bellies, is proof that things were right for them this year'.

George, the infamous male chough on the Lizard and proud father of 5 this year (photo: NT\BarryBatchelor)
There is a huge commitment from a fantastic team of people to help Cornwall's iconic bird recolonise its former range. Over 100 volunteers help to protect chough nests from disturbance. The RSPB are happy to report that new pairs have joined the Cornish breeding population this year, Nicola Shanks from the RSPB says 'we've had new sites and first time breeders keeping the Chough Watch team very busy working out what is happening at each site. Thanks to the volunteers and all the time they give we have great information and safe nest sites'.

Lizard Wildlife Watchpoint (photo: Shannon O'Grady)
In addition to the nest protection, the RSPB, National Trust and Natural England – forming the Cornwall Chough Project, work with local farmers and land owners to ensure that the cliffs and coastal fields are managed in such a way to improve the habitat for choughs and many other rare species across Cornwall. Jeremy Clitherow, Lead Advisor from Natural England was thrilled with the news 'the environmental stewardship agreements we have with local farmers helps to complete the jigsaw of habitat management across the Lizard and National Nature Reserve. The Lizard is a hotspot for our chough related habitat work, so it's fantastic to see an increase in chick numbers here this year'.

The youngsters are expected to leave their nests early next month. As well as the choughs on the Lizard, there are a number of pairs soon to fledge young along the coast between Sennen and Pendeen, so June is a great time to take a leisurely stroll along the coast to see Cornwall's wild choughs. If you are in the Lizard area do visit the Wildlife Watchpoint at Lizard Point for the latest news and sightings. It's open every day from 10am - 4pm (April – mid September).

If you'd like to keep up to date with chough news and learn more about them or get involved in the Cornwall Chough Project please visit or

For more news on the wildlife watchpoint visit: or or

- Cat

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