Thanks to the Environment Agency

I am pleased to announce that the Environment Agency has funded a project to reinstate the right of way into Maer Lake. At the moment, we are reliant on our neighbour s goodwill to get maintenance machinery on site. It is, therefore, advantageous and desirable to have our own independent access. The work involves clearing the sunken lane, putting down hard core and erecting two new gates. My grateful thanks go to Sonia Thurley, Martin Rule and the Environment Agency for all their help and support at the reserve over the last four years.

Maer Lake continues to delight regular watchers. The citrine wagtail, which was present on the reserve in early May, was only the seventh county record for this species. In addition, it was the first spring record and the first male ever recorded in the county. The plumage of this first summer bird was stunning, and arguably this was the county s most interesting sighting this spring. Over many years, I have been accustomed to finding American birds at Maer, so to see a bird of the East, with a breeding range of eastern Poland to Asia, which winters on the Indian subcontinent, was extra special.

The citrine wagtail was the highlight of an excellent spring that also produced two other new species for Maer - red kite and nuthatch! Other birds visiting included garganey, little ringed plover, marsh harrier and three black terns. Last autumn, I put various posts around Maer for birds to pitch on, and I did dreamily visualise black terns pitching on them. Unfortunately, nobody had told the terns about this plan, and they flew around the marsh calling excitedly, before heading north! My disappointment was short-lived, however, when a few days later a whimbrel pitched on a post and its bubbling liquid call echoed over the lake.
Graham Sutton

Critine Wagtail
Critine Wagtail - the start of spring. Photo: Graham Sutton

Butterflies for the New Millennium

This project is based on a concern for butterflies and their habitats, and the need to provide up-to-date information on all species as many continue to decline. Launched in 1995 by Butterfly Conservation and the Biological Records Centre, it is the largest and most comprehensive survey of butterflies ever undertaken in the UK.

The project is now starting its third year. If you are not already contributing butterfly records to the project, but would like to, please write, sending a large (A4) stamped (31p) addressed envelope to Butterfly Conservation, PO Box 222, Dedham, Colchester, Essex, CO7 6DE. You will be sent a free information pack, which includes recording instructions, recording forms and details of your local co-ordinator, from whom more forms can be obtained.
Nick Greatorex-Davies

Marine updates

Red tide recedes

In 1989 the Trust magazine reported a red tide (sudden bloom of toxic micro-organisms) in Mount s Bay that had devastated the wildlife of the sand flats from Marazion to Penzance. At the time, the lower shore was streaked with blood from lugworms dying in their burrows. Heart urchins - a sea urchin that burrows through the sand - were dying and floating up to the surface when the tide came in. Razor shells and otter shells also appeared on the strand line. The lugworm population has slowly grown ever since, and now, after eight years, has reached its former levels. We don t know what has happened to the other species, because they leave no recognisable traces on the surface of the sand.

A previous red tide in Mount s Bay had devastated the wildlife of a submerged reef that two Trust divers, Ray Dennis and Alan Griffiths, have studied for many years. We d like to know whether the diversion of sewage outfalls away from Mount s Bay, with its relatively slow-moving waters, will reduce the number of red tides.

Wrapped up

The Cita, wrecked on Scilly, is now estimated to have lost 1,500 miles of polyester film - capable of covering 890 acres.
Nick Tregenza

Painting volcanoes

Tony Foster, a major international landscape artist inspired by earlier wilderness enthusiasts Henry Thoreau and John Muir, has undertaken long walking journeys in some of the remotest parts of the world to capture the real wilderness where man has not had his hand in its design. Tony s landscape paintings - a visual diary - have been exhibited in many of the established galleries of this country and throughout America, where his work is much better known. His past exhibitions have been ╩Travels without a Donkey in the Cevennes╦ (1982), ╩Thoreau s Country╦ (1985) and ╩Exploring the Grand Canyon - A 400-mile Walk in the Grand Canyon╦ (1988). Tony will be giving us a talk on his latest travels, from the Andes to Hawaii, Montserrat and then up to Mount St Helens and Mount Renier in North America, to paint these still active volcanoes. It takes place at the Griffin Hotel, Newquay, on 18th November at 7.30pm. This is a Restormel Branch AGM - all are welcome.
Dave Thomas

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