Farming for Wildlife
As tenants of the National Trust owned Predannack and Teneriffe Farms, we are now heading into our second spring, having taken on the tenancy in 2013.
This first year has been somewhat of a blur, during which I've certainly learnt a lot about myself and the farm. Although I grew up on a farm, my father died when I was relatively young and I was too daft to listen and soak up some of his intricate farming knowledge. He came from generations of farmers, all passing their skills on to their sons. Over the years, I learned my farming lessons the hard way and often slumped devastated for days over my mistakes.
Working in partnership to support wildlife at Predannack Airfield
Last week I attended one of our biannual Predannack Airfield Conservation Committee meetings, representing the National Trust with our partners from Natural England and Cornwall Wildlife Trust, alongside the Royal Navy, DIO and others. It got me thinking as to how things have changed......
About fifteen years ago, I first attended a Predannack meeting in the air traffic control tower. How very out of place I felt, surrounded by men in uniform talking in acronyms, addressing each other by 'sir' and frankly showing dubious interest in wildlife or conservation. The 'War on Terror' had just started, Afghanistan was about to kick-off, and, understandably, defence of the realm gave priority over defence of a few rare plants.
Butterfly Surveys in March!! Your Help Please
Believe it or not, right now is the best time to survey the population health of one of our most notable butterflies – the marsh fritillary. Admittedly, surveyors will not be looking for butterflies on the wing but they will be taking advantage of the occasional sunny but not too warm day to spot basking caterpillars.
This spring, ecologists from the Environmental and Sustainability Institute (ESI) at Exeter University are undertaking a survey of Marsh fritillary butterfly colonies on The Lizard. This attractive butterfly is one of the most rapidly declining butterfly species in Europe, principally because the damp meadow habitats it frequents have been increasingly drained for agriculture. Scrub encroachment through lack of management and climate change are also factors in its recent demise.