Friday, 30 October 2015

Deep Clean for Carleon and Kynance Coves

The Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) “Great British Beach Clean” is an annual litter pick across Britain that’s been happening for over 20years. This year, from 18th to 21st September, people from across the country came out to clean their local beaches; but this beach clean is not just about picking litter up, every single item of litter has to be painstakingly recorded!

It really helps give us a picture of how much litter and what kind of litter is getting into the sea. In The MCS’s own words:  “We can talk to water companies when we see lots of Sewage Related Debris being recorded. We can prove to decision makers and leaders that our seas are in trouble by showing them over 20 years of litter data. We can talk to companies whose logos keep showing up on beach litter and we can work with manufacturers to find solutions. But we can't do any of this if we don't have the data to back it up.”

Our haul from Kynance. Time for a quick photo then on to the next beach! (Photo: Michael Hirst)
What we did
Litter pick at Carleon Cove (Photo: Michael Hirst)
Tasked with cleaning up and recording what we could find on Carleon and Kynance Cove, myself and fellow volunteer Michael armed ourselves with gloves, black bags, handy hoops, litter pickers and clip boards, before heading off to each beach at low tide.  

What we found
It’s amazing what you can find on just a short section of beach. At Kynance cove we found several beach towels and bits of clothing, as well as shoes, rubber balls, large pieces of scrap metal, cigarette lighters, bottle tops, bits of plastic and lots of netting. 

To our surprise it took the same amount of time to clean Carleon as it did to do Kynance, even though Carleon is much smaller! Carleon took us a bit longer because we found a lot of tiny pieces of plastic, all of which had to be categorised and recorded. There was also a lot of seaweed on the beach which also meant we had to spend time sifting through it for hidden items. 

This fish hook could have easily been swallowed by a 
sea bird or picked up by a child (Photo: Michael Hirst)
Ghost Gear
Speaking of hidden items - I found a vicious looking fishing hook in a nest of seaweed. Instantly I felt I had made a difference; getting rid of it has saved someone or something from getting hurt. Lots of research is now being done on ghost fishing gear, to learn more or find out how to report 'ghost gear' visit the Ghost Gear Initiative's website

Get Involved
The 2015 “Great British Beach Clean” results are still being counted, but as of 13th October, 1500 bags of rubbish had been collected across 244 beaches and all the data entered online. This invaluable information gives the MCS a better idea of where to focus their campaigns.

Happy Cleaning!

- Katie

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

My year with the Lizard Ranger Team

Self Portrait
I have been volunteering with the National Trust for the past year. I first applied for the role after finishing my degree in Wildlife Photography, as being hugely passionate about nature and conservation, the National Trust seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Brush cutter on the coastpath
Photo Michael Hirst
I have been volunteering with the practical ranger team who care for the Trust’s land on the Lizard. When I first started I had very limited experience and knowledge about conservation work so there was a steep learning curve. I have slowly gained more and more confidence and competence and I have since gained a qualification in use and maintenance of a Brush cutter.

Mullion Harbour last winter
Photo Michael Hirst

During the Monday morning meetings and yearly ranger conferences I get the opportunity to hear about the range of projects that the whole team are involved with. There has been a large scale project to restore the harbour wall at Mullion Cove after the winter storms of 2014 and the BBC came down to film the 'Sounds of our Shore' project.

Chough defending the nest
Photo Michael Hirst
One of the projects I really enjoyed was helping to monitor and protect the rare schedule 1 Choughs. Cornwall is a stronghold for the Chough in the UK and they feature on the county’s coat of arms. From the natural return of just 3 birds to Cornwall over 10 years ago, a small population has grown. My job was to watch and protect a single nest on the Lizard. As I noted down the activities of the two parents I noticed repeated behaviours as they would feed their young. My time with the Choughs came to an end  when the 5 chicks were rung (identification rings placed on their legs) in the nest shortly before they fledged. The Chough doesn't migrate so when I am out walking year round I often see the Choughs flying overhead, which is always a welcome sight.

Tiger Moth at Poltesco
Photo Michael Hirst
Bunny at Lizard Point
Photo Michael Hirst

With the National Trust I have learnt more about the natural world through first hand experience working within the woodland at Tremayne Quay and swailing (controlled burning) the cliffs at Predannack. I have also participated in surveys to monitor the moths in our garden, the crustaceans in our rock pools and the litter on our beaches. Whilst working at the watch point at Lizard Point I have had some of the most rewarding wildlife encounters including seeing two Bottlenose Dolphins, a Barrel Jellyfish and watching a kit first emerge out of a Rabbit warren.

I hope you enjoy seeing these photos, captured in my year with the Trust on the Lizard.


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