Sunday 22 May 2011


Rewind to my blog post of 15th March last year, in which I reported that we had a contractor on site to carry out the restoration of about 400 metres of old cart-track which hadn't been used for many years. When these ancient thoroughfares across the Lizard heathlands were in regular use, they provided ideal habitat for some extremely rare plants such as Pygmy Rush, which requires repeated ground disturbance to survive. In Britain, this plant has only been recorded from the Lizard peninsula but even here it has undergone a severe decline.

March 2010: Initial scrub clearance along the route of the track

May 2010: excavated trackway

Last week a visitor wrote in our sightings book "Let's hear it for sedges!", followed by a list of sedges and rushes. Of particular note was their count of no less than 53 Pygmy Rush plants - along the "new track"! Local naturalist Tony Blunden and I had a look and found them (well he found them and pointed them out to me!), along with lots of Yellow Centaury and even a tiny patch of Pillwort, both of which are also rarities.

The same view, last week

Flowering Pygmy Rush (about 5cms tall)

As Tony said, I think we can call that a success. Many thanks to Andy Byfield of Plantlife for arranging funding for this work.

Thursday 19 May 2011

Surprise surprise!

I wasn't expecting much in the way of recently arrived migrant birds today and was wandering fairly idly around the farm looking for orchids. I'd just found some nice Southern Marsh Orchids when I heard the unmistakeable fluty tones of a Golden Oriole coming from a thick patch of tall willows. It went on for several minutes, so I sneaked around the side and sat myself down at the edge of the bushes. It was quiet for a while, then suddenly the bird was singing almost above my head! For such a dazzlingly bright bird, they are devilishly hard to see in the canopy. This one was no exception and it refused to reveal itself. Nevertheless, a very exciting moment and a great record of this scarce migrant - our second in two years!

So, no oriole photos, but a few pretty flowers and some happy single-parent families:

Southern Marsh Orchid


Heath Spotted Orchid

Petty Whin

Hereford mums and kids

Sunday 15 May 2011

A great Spring for Odonata

Despite the cool north-westerly breeze, many dragonflies and damselflies were on the wing today, but you had to look along sheltered hedgerows and glades rather than out over the pools. We've already seen 12 species this year! These are Dougy's photos (thanks Dougy):

This Four-spotted Chaser has an under-developed or damaged right forewing. It seemed to be able to fly ok.

Black-tailed Skimmer

Azure Damselfly

This female Linnet sat very tight as we approached along the path (NB: this is a bird)

Saturday 14 May 2011

Bird photography – a new code of practice

Following a recent incident at the farm, I thought it would be prudent to respectfully draw people's attention to the following (although the photograph used in the article gives quite the wrong impression, in my humble opinion!):

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Small mammal project

Phil Bradshaw's small mammal project. He's working very hard and we're looking forward to seeing the results.