The Lizard National Nature Reserve - just got bigger!
Natural England, The National Trust, and Cornwall Wildlife Trust are pleased to announce that the Lizard National Nature Reserve will be extended shortly.
The Lizard Peninsula is one of the best places in the country for wildlife, with a wealth of rare plants, invertebrates and habitats that make visiting the area a must for nature lovers.
National Nature Reserves give recognition to the UK’s very best sites for wildlife, and The Lizard NNR, first declared in the 1970s, and managed by Natural England, covers nearly 2000ha of spectacular heath and coastline. The NNR will shortly be extended by 470ha to include additional wildlife rich areas, in the care of The National Trust and Cornwall Wildlife Trust. The enlarged reserve will stretch from Mullion Cove in the west, across Goonhilly Downs in the centre of the peninsula, to Lowland Point, near Coverack in the east.
“So, what exactly is your job?”
This is a question I’ve been asked many times since I donned the mantle of “Survey and Monitoring Trainee” at Natural England. Tom, my fellow trainee, and I find ourselves in the rather enviable position of spending three months involved in a wide and varied plethora of tasks touching upon varying aspects of the management and conservation efforts within a National Nature Reserve.
Before I moved here I was promised by anyone I discussed my impending placement with that I was relocating to one of the most beautiful locations in the country, with more wildlife and biodiversity than I could shake a stick at. I will readily admit that, one month in, I have not been disappointed. With tasks ranging from surveying marsh fritillary habitats, herding Shetland ponies, discovering new colonies of the Red Data Book Species land quillwort (Isoetes histrix), and failing to register historic ones, maintaining invisible fences, nest-watching Cornish choughs, partaking in guided woodland walks and observing barn-owl ringing we’ve got more than just a flavour of what conservation on the Lizard is all about.
Great news: Lizard chough Nora and her new mate now have chicks!!!
Earlier this season we had some sad news when the resident male chough ‘George’, who was quite a colourful character (LINK: http://the-lizard.org/index.php/article-archives/birds/640-farewell-george-an-unexpected-goodbye-starts-a-new-chapter-for-the-lizard-choughs ), vanished without a trace. After four weeks on her own, as the only chough left on The Lizard, Nora managed to attract a new mate. This was a surprise to us local volunteers as most of the choughs were, at that point, based in west Penwith and we didn’t expect any of them to move our way in time for this nesting season. But, as new breeding pairs began to establish out west it pushed some of the younger unpaired birds out and 3 young males came our way. We waited on tenterhooks, would they reach us?
It’s fledging time....
Right now hedges, trees, heath and grassland as well as nestboxes are all of a flutter as the breeding season gets into full swing. Birds are busy diving into all manner of hidey holes and secret places, beaks packed with insect food for their hungry chicks. Egg-laying season is typically between late March and May, although some species can have many broods with chicks into August. For a small garden bird such as the greenfinch, it can take over two weeks for the eggs to hatch and a further two-three weeks for the chicks to fledge the nest. Just before baby birds are ready to tentatively extend a wing, wiggle a tail feather and take flight for the first time, they leave their nest or fledge. Fledglings then spend a couple of days on the ground developing their final flight feathers.
The fledglings will appear fully feathered (with perhaps some downy fluff here and there) and spend these days hopping around in broad daylight – hence why so many members of the public are convinced they need rescuing.