Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Having a wild time on the Lizard

Children climbing treeChildren and their families have had an exciting few months on the Lizard thanks to the Wild Lizard Project. And they're not the only ones, my name is Megan Adams. I joined the Linking the Lizard team in April, as the first Wild Lizard Intern. Working with Wild Lizard Ranger Claire Scott, I have been helping out with the 100s of children and young people the Wild Lizard Project gets outside to enjoy and learn more about the incredible surroundings we have on the Lizard. Since starting in April I have helped schools pitch camp and brave the wilds during bushcraft survival days and shared my ID skills and as pupils submerged themselves in different habitats, searching rockpools and dragonfly ponds for the incredible life that lives there.

BushcraftSeveral schools have made the most of the projects' bushcraft expertise taking part in one-off days of Climate Change Survival. Grade Ruan and Manaccan Primary schools headed to Poltesco valley for shelter building from natural materials, baking bread over the fire and scaring off invaders with scary clay faces. While Landewednack School took an expedition to Tremayne Woods for two days of survival skills, including fire lighting, camouflage and team rescue games. Secondary school pupils from Mullion explored the science of using different plants for water, food, fire and signalling while on a day of nature exploration at Bochym.

Schools have also been taking the chance to get students outdoors to continue their learning. Primary schools from Mullion and Cury have headed each week to Higher Bochym, part of the National Nature Reserve, to make the most of the yurt, ponds and meadow. Taking part in maths trails of quadrats and patterns, to seed planting and story telling and even a noisy day of making musical interments from bamboo!
With outings most weeks to beaches around the Lizard and Helford for rockpooling students from Constantine, Mawnan, Landewednack and Mullion, and I have been learning all about the amazing seashore diversity we have along our coast. Making the day memorable with sea creature based art, games as well as the all important rummage in the rockpools.

Wild Lizard, rockpooling Wild Lizard, rockpooling

With summer holidays coming up Wild Lizard Project will be making sure that visitors and residents have the chance to get out and engage with their environment with activities planned throughout the holidays. We started out with our first ever family Wild Camp, a two day stay at Tremayne Woods with night walks, green woodworking and bat detecting, it was fully booked, which we hope sets a precedent for years to come.

Following last years success Go Wild Bushcraft Club will be running again throughout August, with children attending each week, building their skills and confidence in bushcraft techniques. The National Nature Reserve at Kennack Sands will host free weekly rockpooling and beach craft activities of all ages, during Wild Wednesdays through out the holidays. Pop up events will also be happening at local Teneriffe Campsite with natural crafts, chances to explore the area and plans to introduce evening wildlife activities.
Roll on Summer and hope to see you there!

Wild Lizard, Kennack Sands, rockpooling Wild Lizard, Intern, bushcraft

- Megan

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Monday, 14 July 2014

Lots of happy Germans!

Yes lots of happy Germans, and this was even before last night's World Cup Victory! Here on The Lizard we welcome lots of international visitors every year, with the Continent well represented, particulary the Netherlands and Germany. Lizard Wireless Station is well geared up for visitors from further afield, with translation sheets on hand in all the major European languages. Mainly because we all flounder a bit when it comes to explaining a spark transmitter in Spanish!
Pictured are a regular German walking tour group who call by on Sundays in the summer months. Thanks John for giving them such an enjoyable tour. Lizard Wireless Station is run entirely by our merry band of volunteers, so if you would like to get involved and make more visitors this happy, please do get in touch! For museum opening times, see lizardwireless.org


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Open Farm Sunday Success


The Amiss family and ourselves were really pleased with how Open Farm Sunday at Tregullas went. Tregullas was one of over 300 farms throwing open its gates for this national event.

Tregullas Farm is owned by the National Trust, and the event was organised jointly by us and the new tenants, Rona and Nevil Amiss. It was a fantastic afternoon and the event was really well attended with a mix of local families and visitors making the most of the sunshine to join us on the farm. It was encouraging to see so many people taking an interest in the countryside and where their food comes from, and how coastal farming can be great for wildlife like the chough. Everyone liked hand feeding the young goats, and families couldn’t wait to climb aboard the huge new tractor! The sheep shearing demonstration gathered a crowd, and our education team had all sorts of fun on offer, including making mini sheep with wool from the farm. The mini farmers market was popular, with local cakes, flowers, crafts and eggs on sale. Welcome refreshments and a BBQ were also on offer in aid of Landewednack School and Landewednack Guides (senior section). 



Tregullas is one of the most important farms for wildlife in Cornwall, with many rare plants on the cliffs, as well as breeding chough, Open Farm Sunday gave people the opportunity to find out more with displays and guided walks. Nevil led three farm walks, touring the barley and vegetable crops, and meeting the sheep, goats and cattle. Rona and Nevil have only been farming at Tregullas since September, and it’s been a busy year for them so far. They are very passionate about producing high quality food in a way that is wildlife friendly, and said they enjoyed having the opportunity to share what they are doing with so many interested visitors at Open Farm Sunday.
We’d all like to thank everyone locally who volunteered their time and energy into making this day such a success.

Entries for the kids photography competition are welcomed, with prizes kindly donated by Cornwall Farmers and Mole Valley Farmers. Please send your entires to sales@tregullasfarm.co.uk by 5pm Friday 20th June.

- Rachel

Monday, 16 June 2014

Chough chicks fledge

On Saturday 7th June at 3.50pm the team of National Trust and RSPB volunteers, who have spent hundreds of hours watching the choughs this season, were delighted by the appearance of 3 healthy chicks from the nest cave. 

Photo: Terry Thirlaway

To see the new Lizard Point pair successfully raise a family this year is absolutely fantastic. All the hours of monitoring, nest protection and awareness raising has paid off for the new pair at Lizard Point. The newly fledged chicks took a few tentative steps or 'hops' out of the cave on the 7th, and just 8 days later  they are now off on the wing, spending most of the day feeding with their parents along the cliffs west of Lizard Point.

Photo: Terry Thirlaway

Photo: Terry Thirlaway

The chicks can stay with their parents for up to 8 weeks and will use this time getting to know the surrounding area. Although their favoured places to feed are along the cliffs between Lizard and Kynance, occasionally you will see them flying as far as Mullion or Cadgwith for feeding trips.  Now is the best time to see the choughs and their young here on the Lizard. Come and visit our Wildlife Watchpoint at Lizard Point where our volunteers will give you up to date information on the choughs and other wildlife in the area. We are open 10 am - 4 pm daily.

If you are around this weekend, we are leading a guided walk to see the new  family of Cornish choughs. Meet us this Sunday at 10am at the National Trust Car Park at Kynance for a guided walk to see wild Cornish Choughs. On route you will be introduced to the choughs and some of the other fantastic wildlife that surrounds Kynance Cove. 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. The walk will last approximately 2hrs. Please wear strong walking boots and suitable outdoor clothing. Dogs welcome but must be on leads. There is a charge of £2.50 per person (additional car parking charges apply to non members). For more information call 01326 291174 or email catherine.lee@nationaltrust.org.uk

As the young family head out to the cliffs to find food can we ask a favour from you? 
Please ensure you do not unnecessarily disturb the choughs. They are quite sociable birds so if you sit quietly often they will come quite close and you'll get super views, but if you try and get too close to them you may frighten them off. If you have a dog can you please ensure he / she is under control around the new family. Many thanks in advance, and good luck spotting the choughs. 

If you see the choughs please let us know at the wildlife watchpoint, you can also send in your sightings to the RSPB: cornishchoughs@rspb.org.uk 

- Cat

Friday, 16 May 2014

Weeks of wondering over; volunteers celebrate new chough chicks at Lizard Point

A team of National Trust and RSPB volunteers have been watching on tenterhooks to see if the legacy of choughs on the Lizard would continue. The long wait is over, and it is good news!

The original Lizard Point pair (2001 -2013)
As you may have heard, in 2013 volunteers witnessed the dramatic end of the original pair of choughs who had pioneered the natural return of choughs to Cornwall since 2001, raising 46 chicks. In late May the original male bird died defending his territory against a young incoming male, who then paired up with the existing female. Two weeks after the take over, she too disappeared, leaving the young incoming male to raise the chicks on his own. After a month of hard, lonely work the younger male managed to successfully raise the youngsters who fledged in July last year.

The young incoming male held his new territory over the winter and has attracted a new mate.  In March, the new pair built two nests here at Lizard Point, keeping volunteers guessing as to where they might settle. Thankfully, they settled in the original nest cave.

The new Lizard Point pair (present)
A team of RSPB and National Trust volunteers have being keeping a close eye on the Lizard choughs, and although it appears that the birds have been raising young, watchers couldn’t be 100% sure what was in the nest until today.  Finally, licensed BTO bird ringer, Tony Cross was able to put their minds at rest when he came to colour ring the young choughs yesterday (15th May). Everyone involved is pleased to announce that this year the new pair at Lizard Point have a brood of three new chicks in their nest. (Two males and a female). Thanks to information from the RSPB, we now know that from all five broods across Cornwall, there are a total of seventeen young chicks this year, which is fantastic news.

Lizard Wildlife Watchpoint - National Trust

The youngsters are expected to fledge in early June. Now is the best time to see choughs at the new National Trust Wildlife Watchpoint, which is open daily from 10am – 4pm. Volunteers are on hand until mid September to give you up to date information on the choughs, seals and other wildlife around Lizard Point, as well as provide great views through our binoculars and telescope.

Posted by Cat 

For more news on the wildlife watchpoint visit:  www.facebook.com/LizardNT or follow us on twitter www.twitter.com/SWCornwallNT

For more information on the choughs visit: www.cornishchoughs.org or www.twitter.com/cornishchoughs

Photographs courtesy of  Andy Hay (rspbimages.com) and Terry Thirlaway (National Trust ©)

Friday, 2 May 2014

Tourism and Wildlife – getting to the Point

In a recent poll, Cornwall topped the world for the best destination for a family holiday. No surprises there really, with an abundance of beautiful beaches, a varied and extraordinary landscape, great food and family friendly cafes and restaurants, it's a no-brainer for a great family holiday, despite our varied weather. And we know from previous studies, such as the National Trust's Valuing our Environment study, that a key reason people cite for coming to Cornwall is the unspoilt beauty of our coastline.

So offering a great environment as well as the facilities for a great holiday is really important for the longer term future of the tourism industry, but also plays a big part in helping to secure support for nature in the future.

So what do we make of this for the Lizard? Tourism is clearly a big part of our local economy and places like Kynance and Lizard Point attract hundreds of thousands of people each year, supporting a large number of local businesses. But these are not simple tourist traps, both are beautiful places, have great cafes and things to do but they also offer a host of wildlife experiences for those who want to look a little further. A walk to Kynance beach takes you past classic Lizard heathland rich in a rare treat of heather, plants and insects not to be seen elsewhere in the country.

At Lizard Point, the wildlife watchpoint, set up over 10 years ago by the RSPB to watch the choughs nesting nearby is now being managed by the National Trust. While the RSPB continue to run the nest protection at nest sites across Cornwall, here at Lizard Point, we are helping them to monitor and protect the choughs while also introducing thousands of visitors to the wildlife that inhabit our shores, from choughs overhead, to rare plants on the cliffs or seals and porpoises out to sea.

And the Lizard has an abundance of wildlife. It's a speciality for the Lizard; in marketing terms its USP (Unique Selling Point) and this offers the visitor a great added experience to their holiday, something that a group of tourism businesses on the Lizard are making their own. VisitLizard are looking at how businesses on the Lizard can work more closely together to promote the area, not just for its beaches, great local food and beautiful countryside and coastline but as a place where one can also experience extraordinary wildlife.

Getting everyone, and children in particular, outdoors and more in touch with nature is key to a sustainable future. After all, people won't want to protect what they first don't care about and so a trip to the Lizard on holiday offers a great chance to see and experience nature that will stay in minds forever and breed a new generation of wildlife and nature lovers (and protectors) for the future.

- Alastair

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