National Trust News – October 2013 – Chris Townsend

Glorious weather, warm and often wet, gave ideal conditions for plant growth and a busy holiday season – so vigorous vegetation and happy holidaymakers dictated our priorities this summer!

Bracken rolling became a major activity at Treluggan, West Dodman, Lambsowden and the Jacka.

NT Rangers steer a mechanical flail to bruise, rather than cut the bracken, which is weakened, giving grasses and wildflowers a chance to emerge.

Ragwort grew prolifically this year, providing an excellent nectar source for butterflies and food for the voracious caterpillars of the cinnabar moth. Despite these benefits, ragwort is toxic to livestock and on grazed areas it had to be pulled out before it set seed.

The ponies were moved from Dodman in July: five Dartmoors to Treluggan cliffs and our two ancient Shetlands to less luxuriant pastures at Lambsowden.  The health of all ponies is checked regularly; they’re given a block of mineral lick for essential elements, and their water supplies are monitored too. The ponies browse young gorse and blackthorn and create paths through bracken. Their dung provides food for beetles, helping to increase biodiversity.

Everyone enjoyed Roseland beaches over the summer. This meant more beach and car park ‘cleans’ but also more car park donations, more money counting and trips to the bank. All good for the well being of holidaymakers and the financial health of the NT!   Beach clean volunteers meet on the first Monday of every month: 10am Porthcurnick and 2pm Pendower, if you’d like to join us.

What a brilliant summer for butterflies!  Species diversity and numbers can indicate healthy butterfly populations and habitats so it’s important to monitor these beautiful insects. Butterfly surveys involve walking along a transect through the various habitats at Treluggan or Nare Head whilst recording numbers of different species seen. Year 6 from Gerrans School counted hundreds of Meadow Brown and Ringlet at Treluggan. A huge number of Wall were recorded at Nare Head; Painted Lady, Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell at Dodman. Unusually, we saw many

Clouded Yellow, a migrant to UK, at Treluggan. All numbers are logged and shared with the national charity, Butterfly Conservation.

October might be sunny and warm, so contact me – christownsend624@googlemail.com

if you fancy joining our team of ‘butterfly volunteers’.

Look out for the next update in January 2014!     

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