Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The heat of the moment

Paul from West Cornwall installing a new cross drain at Ogo dour.

The Lizard team have been very busy on the ground over the last month. Its been great working in the sunshine. Much of it has been spend cutting vegetation in one way or another and its been a real challenge to keep on top of our strimming duties but we are finally catching up. I don’t have any photos of that but you can imagine what it looks like, 2 people strimming, 2 people raking (if we are lucky enough to have that luxury), lots of horse flies and a very tidy looking coast path at the end. 

The repaired and repainted sign going in at Tremayne.
Grahame our new seasonal footpath cutting employee has been strimming hard to keep up with the demand and often alone, his work has been essential. We decided that once a week we would have a charitable Grahame day where the rest of the team would work with him as he appreciates the company. I don’t blame him!

Paul and Angus installing a chestnut pailing fence into some feisty bedrock.

 In between the strimming, the volunteer team and I have been undertaking many small and interesting projects and tasks. We have replaced many of our omega signs, as the posts rot out and the paint strips off, its good to keep things looking smart and giving good indication of our ownership boundaries along the coast path.
We have been carrying out a lot of access related work and are continually replacing stiles, gates and putting in new drainage in place ready for the rain, its got to come soon right? We have had far too good a summer for it to be true. 

Carl Installing a stile on our new walk around Teneriffe Farm.
We have had a few trees down around the Helford area so we have been working on keeping the paths clear and logging up the timber for winter. Also up at Penarvon, an old barn which is found to be housing bats is slowly collapsing, an alternative roost site has been constructed nearby whilst the collapsing barn is being left and fenced off to fall apart slowly over time with no interference. 

So remember this is just the tip of the Lizard iceberg and we are doing so much work to keep things functioning, looking good and of course safe! (Safety being first though not third). Its been alot of fun and I have been looking at many exciting new projects that the volunteer team and I are soon to be taking on! Until next time :)...

The finished fence around the old barn.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Wildlife friendly farming makes a buzz at Tregullas

Colourful mustard and phacelia within the wild bird seed mix plot
If you've taken a walk around Lizard recently, you may have spied a blaze of blue and yellow adorning one of the arable fields near Housel Bay. This is a one hectare plot of wild bird seed mix, which has been planted as part of a Higher Level Stewardship Scheme covering Tregullas Farm. The area is designed to be a living bird table, growing a mix of plants with seeds that farmland birds love to eat.  The plot will be in place for two years, before being resown, somewhere else on the farm, thereby keeping a constant supply of seed available to wild birds.

buckwheat growing at Tregullas
Being the first year of our new HLS scheme, and our first experience of wild bird seed plots, we didn't know quite what to expect.  As you can see the results have been extremely colourful!  The mix includes millet, canary seed, buckwheat and sunflower. However, it is the yellow flowered mustard and purple flowered phacelia that seem to have really gone for it! Phacelia is a relative of borage, and it is a great source of nectar for insects, which then become food for birds. Even seed eating birds like cirl buntings feed their chicks insects, to give them a protein rich start in life, so more insects buzzing about are good for wildlife all round.We look forward to seeing what birds make use of this area over winter. Reed buntings would be nice, but they would be trumped by much rarer cirl or corn buntings! Both have been sighted at Tregullas in winter before, so here's hoping!

reed buntings regularly over winter at Tregullas

The HLS scheme includes lots of other measures to give wildlife a boost, including a 1/2ha fallow cultivated plot. This year this area, which is ploughed but then left unsown, is near Old Lizard Head. Although not as showy as the bird seed plot, it's a welcome space for nature with fat hen, fumitory, scarlet pimpernel and speedwells taking the leading weed roles!

Weasel's-snout within a barley field
Nearby in a corner of a barley field, a rarer arable weed is having a good year too. Weasel's-snout, or lesser snapdragon is red listed as a vulnerable species, because it has declined so much nationally, so it was great to see 20 or more plants in full flower, just where I had seen it 3 years ago - even if I did accidentally crouch in an ants nest when taking this photo!

Many thanks to local farmer Richard Dark who has done a fine job of getting the new HLS off to a great start this season, and we look forward to welcoming our new long-term tenants, Rona and Nevil Amiss and family to Tregullas in September, and an exciting future for the farm. 


Thursday, 18 July 2013

Summer Holidays

Join us for Summer holiday fun! 

If you've had enough of the local playground already and you want to try something a bit different come down to one of the events we've got on below, running on various days through the summer holidays we'll keep the kids entertained with den building, foraging and bushcraft on Tuesdays and beach games and rockpooling fun on Wednesdays! 

For a full list of summer holiday activities check out our listings in the right hand column in green, we've got loads going on for the whole family throughout the holiday period. 

Monday, 8 July 2013

Students swap the science lab for Loe Pool

It’s been a busy couple of weeks around Loe Pool. Over a two week period all the students in Year 9 science classes at Helston Community College have been visiting Penrose to study water quality and biodiversity.

'The Farmer' talking to the students about pollution in Loe Pool
The trip was lead by our fantastic environmental storyteller, Mark Harandon, who brings science to life for the 14 and 15 year olds. After walking to Penrose from the school, the year 9s get stuck in straight away testing for nitrates and phosphates in the River Cober. They then walk through the wet willow wood and talk about different plants as indicator species of different habitats. The shallows of Loe Pool provide the perfect spot to sample for freshwater invertebrates where the students can discover the diversity of life under the surface. After lunch, the group meets ‘The Farmer’ one of Mark’s characters who transports them back to past farming times, when many of the fields sloping down to Loe Pool were intensively managed and many chemicals were added to the soil which polluted the Pool. For the last part of the day the students survey the plants and see the great diversity of life in the wet meadow which adjoins the Pool.

A Golden Ringed dragonfly lands on a student

This is the eighth year this trip has been run which means that nearly 3000 pupils have studied Loe Pool and gained an insight into why it’s so special. The trip has been built in to the school’s curriculum so that means the topics of water quality and biodiversity will be taught at Loe Pool every year for the foreseeable future.

We are hoping to receive some blog posts soon from the actual students who took part so you’ll be able to get their perspective on the day!

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