Changes in Cornwall wildlife

From Wildlife Extra:

National Trust re-surveys Cornwall farm again 30 years on

12/06/2009 09:35:59

Mapping three decades of changing nature conservation

June 2009. The first ever site to be surveyed for its wildlife importance by the National Trust in June 1979 – a farm on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall [Lower Predannack farm] – is being revisited thirty years to the day to see what has changed. …

Perhaps the most significant change on this farm, which is reflected in the bigger picture across the National Trust, is the move away from arable land to grassland. This general trend towards less intensive land use, supported by agri-environment schemes means that bees, butterflies and fungi should begin to flourish again across many sites. …

As a result, common and rare plants on the Lizard have flourished and spread to new sites. Green Winged Orchids, with their bold colourful flowers, have benefited from less long grass, and the Land quillwort, a plant at its northern limit and normally found in the Mediterranean, has been recorded at new sites.

Rare clovers only found on the Lizard, such as the Upright clover and Long-headed clover, can now be seen in much greater numbers than 1979.

Grazing has also played a key role in the success story of the chough, or sea crow, an iconic bird for Cornwall, returning to the Lizard. …

The top ten National Trust sites based on the National Trust wildlife database are (in order of number of species):

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire – more than 7,000 species have been recorded here, including the rare spiney loach and bitterling fish. More here
Hatfield Forest in Essex – 649 different species of fungi and 300 million buttercups can be found here
Stackpole in Pembrokeshire – nine species of bat breed or hibernate here and 20 species of Dragonfly can be found on Bosherton Lily Ponds
Woodchester Park in Gloucestershire – home to a nationally important colony of Greater Horseshoe bats [see also here] and the nationally rare Hairy bee fly
Headley Heath in Surrey – significant for its rare chalk heath habitat and the occasional Dartford warbler can be spotted
Crom in Northern Ireland – an important site for bats, including one of 5 UK sites for the Nathusius pipistrelles, and the largest block of semi-natural oak woodland in Northern Ireland
Golden Cap Estate in Dorset – a great site for haymeadows and wild flowers, including the rare corky fruited dropwort and rare butterflies such as the pearl bordered fritillary and dingy skipper.
Murlough Nature Reserve in Northern Ireland – 20% of the UK’s dune heathland can be found here and its one of the best sites for butterflies and moths in Northern Ireland
Calke Abbey in Derbyshire – 180 veteran oaks trees (up to 1,000 years old) can be found here, all part of the wood pasture (one of the rarest habitats in the UK), and also home to the oak polypore fungi
Longshaw in Derbyshire – the top English site for waxcaps and home to the rare hairy northern wood ant

Pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies boost in Devon: here.

December 2012. Traditional haymeadows are much better at supporting biodiversity and preventing water pollution than intensively farmed fields according to research from Lancaster University. This is because haymeadows lose five times less nitrogen from the soil, which is needed for plant growth. However, nitrogen becomes a pollutant if it leaches into rivers and contaminates the water supply: here.

The results from a survey of Heath Fritillary butterflies, carried out last year, has revealed that the butterflies look to be making a comeback in Cornwall as a result of conservation work underway in the Tamar Valley: here.

5 thoughts on “Changes in Cornwall wildlife

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