There is no better way to enjoy the Lizard than by walking or running on its many beautiful paths, byways, and lanes. In June, my daughter and I walked from Lizard village to Kynance along the coast path and back along the inland route. It was a fantastic day with clear blue skies but a good breeze. The fulsome swell, once heaved over the rocks, became intoxicated with the bubbles that gave it a greenish colour before breaking over the shore. We sat on the springy turf on the far side of a stile to watch a kestrel hovering over a precipitous cliff, just a few metres away from us. This expansive coastal landscape is in contrast to the secluded valleys through which I ran just the other day, on another exploration of the Lizard on foot. Starting from Tenerife campsite near Mullion, my route took me up the evocatively titled Ghost Hill to the chocolate factory, through Mullion, down to Poldhu (and up the other side!) and then through the lanes in a figure of eight, taking in some rougher farm lanes and steep ups and downs into and out of little river valleys.
Balearic Island visitors
Fig1: Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus)*
The Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus is Europe’s only Critically Endangered seabird with a population thought to be around 3200 breeding pairs (18000-25000 individuals). The breeding population is mostly restricted to the Balearic archipelago but the seas around Cornwall are very important foraging areas especially for young birds.
On their island homes, colonies of Balearic shearwaters are at risk of predation from introduced mammals and they are prone to fisheries bycatch which combined are reducing adult and chick survival. Research by various organisations and individuals is ongoing including satellite tagging which will help target mitigation for bycatch and to highlight areas that are important feeding grounds to afford them better protection.
Remember the summer of 2012? It was wet. Very wet.
Whilst this summer hasn’t exactly offered the best weather, here on the farm, we’re still suffering the effects of 2012’s disastrously wet summer. The cattle suffered from day after day of rain, thereby eating wet grass all summer long. Wet grass seems to go straight through the animals, producing little milk or growth. The calves born in Spring 2012 should by now have been fattened and gone for slaughter, but due to their slow start to life, we still have many over 30 month cattle. Calves born in 2015, by comparison, are looking a picture of good health. OK, so it hasn’t exactly been the best summer we’ve ever had, but it has been reasonably dry, albeit somewhat chilly, the dry forage allows good growth and milk for the calves.
Following the BSE crisis in 19**, all cattle over the age of 30 months must have all spinal material removed, which includes the backbone. This leaves the animal unsuitable as a butcher’s quality carcass, and therefore reducing its value even if one day over. There is therefore pressure on farmers to force growth in order to gain reasonable value in finishing their animals in under 30 months. Many farmers achieve this through housing the cattle over winter and feeding them a diet of grain and high quality ryegrass forage.
Poltesco: 25 years of environmental education with the National Trust.
A couple of weeks ago I had a chance encounter with a young lady who enthusiastically reminded me of the ‘Wild Wednesday’ workshops she attended as a young girl at Poltesco almost 15 years ago. These children’s workshops, started in 2001 during the summer holidays, were a means of engaging children in nature and art around the Poltesco valley. Today she works at St Michaels Mount undertaking similar work, engaging with young people through story-telling and events. Perhaps her attendance at the Wild Wednesdays sparked a future interest and career in environmental education?
This chance meeting got me thinking about the variety of activities delivered at Poltesco over the years for generations of young people.