The countryside team of rangers and volunteers have been busy over the last month with a variety of different projects:
The railings running down the steps from the South woodland walk, toward the King Harry Ferry, have recently been replaced with a sturdy new set. This ‘post and rail’ style fencing was milled out of chestnut from the woods over at Turnaware, across the river. These are the first of several sets to be replaced around the estate in the coming months.
Many will have noticed that the copse in the centre of the park has now been completely fenced off. This area is used as our woodland activity centre: it is home to our Saturday green woodworking club and offers a fantastic setting for children’s educational activities, barefoot walking and family learning groups. Because of the way we enjoy and benefit from this woodland, along with an apparent rise in dog walkers using the countryside at Trelissick, we have decided to make the copse a dog-free area. For a little more information on this decision, please see the earlier blog article: Dogs in the copse
The horse loggers have returned this past June to haul out the remainder of the timber from last winter’s forestry work. They have been using a horse and harness to extract Ash stems, coppiced to allow the Oaks in that area the space and resources to grow on and become mature standard trees.
Oaks that had been badly damaged by Grey Squirrels were also ‘pollarded‘ to reinvigorate the tree and stimulate new and healthy growth. Coppicing the Ash in this manner opens up the woodland canopy, allowing more light to stimulate the growth of wildflowers, subsequently providing nectar for insects and, in turn, food for woodland birds such as Black Caps. Several individual Ash trees were retained to produce fine timber for use in 50-60 years time.
Wildlife sightings have been plentiful as the weather is warming up; many fledglings can be seen flitting about the woodland walks and parkland, often under a watchful maternal eye.
Red Kites are a bird of prey that has seldom been seen over the last few years but large numbers have been spotted over West Cornwall this summer. A pair was spotted soaring high above the park mid-way through June – an unmistakeable bird with a red-brown body, forked tail and noticeably angled wings. Red Kites were saved from national extinction by one of the world’s longest protection programmes and successfully re-introduced into England and Scotland. These birds have been rarely seen over the last few years, this being only the second known sighting on the estate.Over at Tregew, on the far side of Lamouth Creek, we are encouraging visitors to keep their dogs on leads so as not to disturb ground nesting skylarks that are known to use the fields in this area. Skylarks are one of our classic British songbirds and have experienced a severe decline over recent years owing to changes in farming practices. It is important that we respect their nesting sites in order to give them a fighting chance in the local area.
Meanwhile, over at Pill Farm, where the ranger team is based, there have been Red Mason bees spotted nesting in the office wall, Hornets buzzing around the yard and even a Hummingbird Hawk Moth was spotted in the lane leading out to the farm.
Painted Lady butterflies have been spotted in the park with the UK braced for its once in a decade mass influx of these incredible insects. The orange and black butterflies migrate to Britain from Southern Europe as part of the longest butterfly migration in the world.
This butterfly is a common sight throughout the summer in gardens and around the countryside where its caterpillars rely on thistles as a food-plant. However, approximately once every ten years, the insects arrive en masse and we enjoy what is known a ‘Painted Lady summer’.
The last such event was in 2009 when 11 million butterflies were recorded across the UK. Since that year, recorded numbers have been below what is expected and, as a result, Butterfly Conservation are asking for the public to record sightings of the butterfly to help chart the progress of any potential immigration during the summer. We have decided to include an excerpt from an article by Butterfly Conservation about the migration – just because it is so amazing!
Richard Fox, Butterfly Conservation Head of Recording explained: “The Painted Lady migration is one of the real wonders of the natural world. “Travelling up to 1km up in the sky and at speeds of up to 30 miles-per-hour these small fragile-seeming creatures migrate hundreds of miles to reach our shores each year, even though none of the individual butterflies has ever made the trip before.” The Painted Lady undertakes a phenomenal 9,000 mile round trip from tropical Africa to the Arctic Circle each year – almost double the length of the of the famous migrations of the Monarch butterfly in North America. Research using citizen science sightings from the 2009 migration revealed that the whole journey is not undertaken by individual butterflies but in a series of steps by up to six successive generations.
Painted Lady and Hummingbird Hawk Moth sightings can be sent to Butterfly Conservation at: Migrant watch
– The National Trust ranger team, Trelissick and North Helford