Special interest groups

Strand Line Group

Facts leading to the formation of the group

1994 - Mechanical beach cleaning by tractor and cultivator started on all beaches in North Cornwall by Council. Object: to obtain Clean Beach Certificate from the Tidy Britain Group. Anxiety felt over the effect on sand and wildlife. Objections by residents at Porthcothan and elsewhere had no effect.
Autumn 1994 - Population of common sandhopper Talitrus saltator down by 90%. Protests continue. Plymouth Marine Laboratory, by finding papers by Dr JA Williams on life and breeding habits of T saltator, most helpful.
Spring 1995 - Letter published in spring edition of Natural World, confirming that in two years mechanical cleaning will exterminate T. saltator, nature's beach scavenger. Point taken up by local and national press, including The Times and ITV. Council continues "cleaning" undeterred.
Autumn 1995 - As predicted, sandhoppers extinct. Notified Tidy Britain Group which was very concerned and issued a condition that "where a delicate habitat occurs on a beach, the local naturalists must be consulted on cleaning methods." Also, "where a habitat is extremely vulnerable to pressure, a beach should be removed from the scheme."
It was now that the Trust would most likely be consulted, so it became essential that it possessed all necessary information. Members around Porthcothan called to a meeting to form a "Strand Line Group" of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Nine members attended and voting was unanimously in favour.
Group leader invites councillors to view a beach which had never been "cleaned". Strand line examined and councillors convinced of value of sandhopper, and forthwith stopped mechanical cleaning on beaches with a strand line backed by sand dunes, as present knowledge suggests that they are essential for its survival.
Spring 1996 - Group collects good number of sandhoppers from Tregirls Beach and transfers them rapidly to Porthcothan and Constantine Beaches. Result to date encouraging. Further surveys will be carried out.

Gilbert Garceau

The Trust has been delighted to help generate local and national publicity for Mr Garceau '5 cause, and congratulates him on his success. We would be delighted to hear from anyone else wishing to raise the profile of a particular issue.

Seal Group

Books written about grey seals usually mention that, exceptionally, births may occur outside the normal breeding season. In 1995, one such birth took place on 3rd June. This year, in the neighbouring sea-cave, a pup was born on 16th April. However, while the 1995 pup survived the suckling period to moult and to become independent, the 1996 pup died on the second or third day of its life. Following a post-mortem examination at Polwhele, cause of death was shown to have resulted from a heavy blow to the skull. The very poor physical condition and light weight of the pup - just 7.5kg - were also noted.
It was significant that the pup was found alone in the sea-cave on the 17th, with no sign of the mother, either in the cave or in the adjacent waters. It seems likely that the mother-pup bond was not established post-partum and the pup may not have been fed at all. Two days later, enfeebled by hunger, the pup was thrown against the granite walls of the cave, where it sustained the fatal injury.
Any news of sightings of pups or of adult seals would be much appreciated - this being the time of year when the breeding season is in full swing.

Stephen Westcott

Anyone for mammals?

The Trust hopes to set up a Small Mammal Group next year, focusing on creatures such as dormice, harvest mice and water voles. Anyone interested in taking part should ask the Trust to add their name and address to the eventual mailing list.

Mark Nicholson

harvest mouse
Volunteers Victoria Dodwell, Si6n Brackenbury and Jo James have helped with a Mammal Society harvest mouse survey in which tennis balls - donated by Slazenger - are being converted into artificial nests. Photo: Pat Morris


Bertie Bat

Recently an injured long-eared bat was found in a shop doorway in Looe. We took him back to the peace and safety of our home at Granite Henge Holiday Bungalows, where he became a great favourite with our holiday guests. He was eventually released at Kilminorth Woods, but we have been acting as a bat station ever since. If you have an injured bat in South East Cornwall, or if you are interested in holidays at Granite Henge, do give us a call on (01503) 272772.

David and Jeanette Fellick

Help your Editor!

All contributions to Wild Cornwall are warmly welcomed, but please keep them as short as possible. Branch and group reports should be no longer than 250 words unless a larger space has been agreed in advance. Full-page articles (maximum 700 words) can only be accepted by prior arrangement. I can't squeeze a quart into a pint pot!

Mark Nicholson

RIGS Group | Contents | Destroy one habitat to create another?