Special interest groups

Living Churchyards

St Illogan

In December 1996 the Trust was called upon to draw up a management plan for St Illogan Church which would make its churchyard more inviting not only to wildlife but also to the local community.

Explaining how churchyards can be havens for wildlife
Terry Geater explains how churchyards can be havens for wildlife. Photo: Carol Simpson

The project was to be funded by various organisations, but largely by St Illogan Church itself and Rural Action for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Taking into account voluntary help and donated services, its total value was in excess of 10,000. After an initial visit and discussion with Pentreath Industries (an organisation which provides worthwhile employment for people with or recovering from mental ill health, who would undertake much of the actual work), a plan was prepared.

Comparing mowed path with flower rich meadow
Voluntary helper David Ellis, and pupils from Illogan Primary, compare closely mowed path with flower-rich meadow. Photo: Anne-Marie Ellis

Various aspects were to be considered, such as making safe the dead and rotting trees which were a danger to the public and to the structure of the church. Sycamore trees which had self-seeded, especially those causing damage to graves, were to be removed. Obviously we did not want to create a wilderness but, where possible, less intensive mowing regimes were to be encouraged to allow wild flowers to bloom. To the far end of the churchyard was a rough meadow with encroaching vegetation. This was planned to incorporate spring and summer meadows and native woodland.

The project also involved promoting the churchyard s use as an educational resource. The site is of particular interest to the children of Illogan Primary School, as its grounds are adjacent to the church and obviously both the school and church are very much part of the village community, but the local secondary school - Pool Community School - has also been regularly studying nature in churchyards. Both schools visited on 14th May in what proved to be a fitting conclusion to the work.
Terry Geater

Otter Group

The next meeting of the Otter Group will be on Saturday 27th September 1997 at Paradise Park, Hayle, to see Eurasian, American river and Asian short-clawed otters. Also, weather permitting, it is planned to visit local sites to look for signs of otters. Please see the current diary of events for details.

There are still areas of the county which need regular monitoring for signs of otters. If you are at all interested, please contact me on (01579) 370427.
David Curtis

Seal Group

This year, supported by Ray Helmer of Hayle Canoe Club and a small team of canoeists, the Seal Group is going to make a first-ever attempt to conduct a seal pup census for Cornish sites. As ever, sea conditions will be the main factor determining the success of this venture, which will take place between August and November.
Stephen Westcott

Stephen s ground-breaking studies, experiences and knowledge are summarised in his new book, The Grey Seals of the West Country. Copies are available at 10.99 from the Trust shop or HQ, or 12.50 (including p&p) from HQ by post. He is heavily dependent on sales to fund his continuing work.

The Grey Seals of the West Country cover
The Grey Seals of the West Country - written and photographed by Stephen Westcott.

RIGS Group

Hats off to BP Shipping!

Over the past year there has been increased awareness among Cornwall RIGS Executive Committee members concerning safety issues. This covers both the logging of sites and the giving of guided public walks which are advertised in the RIGS Geological Events Diary. This has resulted in the appointment of a Safety Committee within Cornwall RIGS, one of whose initial actions has been to seek sponsorship for hard hats - an absolute must, particularly for quarry, coastal and under-cliff work.

It was to BP Shipping that the Committee turned for help, and they rapidly responded with a very generous donation of 200 hard hats. These have now been strategically placed in groups of 40 to 50 at various locations to cover RIGS events throughout the county. So it's hats off to BP Shipping, and hats on for RIGS walks!
Jane Anderson

RIGS Group at the Tintagel Volcanics
Jane Anderson (left) discusses the Tintagel Volcanics with a groupwho joined her on a walk along the cliff base at Trebarwith Strand, organized by RIGS, NCHCCS and RGSC. Photo: Paul Anderson

An unexpected development of the strand-line issue has just arisen. It would appear that the highest strand of seaweed - usually, but not necessarily only then, deposited around the equinoxes - has now been found to be, when rotted in situ, an essential factor in the regeneration of several rare dune plants. As this may affect the area of beach under conservation, will botanists with information on this subject please contact me so that the facts may be made known more widely.
Gilbert Garceau

Bat Group

The weather in March and April meant an early end to hibernation for the bats this year. This resulted in early pregnancy and birth, with young being born from early June onwards. Unfortunately, the very cold and wet weather at the end of June resulted in many babies being abandoned by their mothers and dying of starvation. Early flying juveniles were also caught out by this, as they have no fat reserves to see them through spells with no insects flying. Regular monitoring and counting of bat roosts is continuing. The group has found a new breeding roost of Daubenton s bats under a bridge in the east of Cornwall. We are very concerned about bats being entombed during bridge maintenance work and are negotiating a bridge survey programme with County Highways.

Cornwall Bat Group continues to advise householders, on a voluntary basis, over a range of bat problems, including timber treatment in lofts, building work and bats in living areas. The threats to bat populations continue to grow. As well as the above, we are also concerned about the increasing loss of old trees with holes for roosting, loss of underground sites for hibernation, and barn conversions, as well as the wider changes in the pattern of agriculture. These changes affect all wildlife, and bats only indicate the increasing level of threats to wildlife in the county.
Daniel Eva

Cormorant - picture supplied through the Wildlife Photography Group. Would anyone else like theri photographic work shown in the magazine? Photo: David Chapman

Not forgetting....

The Dolphin Group is still making regular news, while the Mammal Group needs more members (you don t have to be an expert) to get projects started. Meanwhile, Ginni Little is back at our Cornwall Bat Hospital and needs more helpers to tend to her many patients.

Reptile and Amphibian Group's Swanpool Beach event
Unsuitable weather meant few sightings at the Reptile and Amphibian Group's recent reptile outing, but heres one surprise we prepared for our Swanpool Beach event. Photo: Mark Nicholson.

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