Exmoor Wildlife Newsletter

 Spring/Summer 2017

Edition 12

In This Issue
Exmoor Wild Watch - Sightings wanted
Dormouse Appeal - Thankyou to all those who donated
Westcountry Buzz Project - Working with farmers to support pollinator friendly land management
Wildlife Training Events - Still time to sign up
Marine Internship - News from the coast
All the Moor Butterflies - Project update
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Welcome to the Exmoor Wildlife Newsletter

Welcome to the 12th edition of the Exmoor Wildlife Newsletter. As the pressures on wildlife throughout the country continue, work goes on across Exmoor to protect the important species and habitats found here and to engage local communities and visitors in this work through citizen science surveys and training events.
 
In this edition, read about how you can get involved with recording some of Exmoor's interesting species and receive training on wildflower identification and survey techniques for a range of wildlife. You can also read about the vital work of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Butterfly Conservation, who are working with Exmoor's farmers to improve the fortunes of our pollinating insects and butterflies.
 
We hope you enjoy reading the newsletter and getting involved with looking after Exmoor's wildlife!

Helen Booker (RSPB)
Chair of the Exmoor Nature Conservation Advisory Panel
Exmoor Wild Watch 2017
Ali Hawkins (ENPA)

At the beginning of the year we launched the fourth Exmoor Wild Watch Survey asking people to look out for ten charismatic species we would like to learn more about.  Since the survey began in 2014 we have collated over 1000 new wildlife records which has helped in our understanding of some species which we lack good data for.  This year's list of species includes dormouse, glow worm, Atlantic grey seal, tree bumblebee, cuckoo, grey wagtail, red admiral, adder, red kite and kestrel.

 

  A selection of this year's Wild Watch species, left to right: grey wagtail (photo: Ian Grier), red admiral (photo: Steve Cheshire) and adder (photo: Nigel Stone)

 

Already this year we have had a good number of records for cuckoo with the first being recorded on 11th April, a day earlier than last year's first arrival.  Red kites have already been seen this year and we are also excited to have received our first record for the tree bumblebee which only arrived in the UK in 2001 from France.  This year we are keen to get more dormouse records and we are asking people to search for nuts which have been opened by dormice.

 

We'd love to receive any records you might have - just go to

Dormouse Appeal    
Pat Watts-Mabbott (ENPA)

Exmoor's dormice have been monitored for many years and have largely had a healthy and well distributed population. However over the last few years numbers have taken a dip, but it is hard to know why. Is it because the population is genuinely falling? Is it because the boxes have got old and damp, or because the woodlands where we monitor them have grown taller and the dormice are spending more time in the tree canopy? Or have they migrated to younger trees in other places? We hope to find out over the next few summers.
 
Thanks to generous donations to the CareMoor for Exmoor fund we have now taken delivery of some new dormouse boxes. We have also undertaken some small-scale volunteer led coppicing work (more to follow next winter) to improve the dormouse habitat, with advice from national dormouse expert, Paul Chanin.
 
  Volunteers checking a dormouse nest box (left) and dormouse (right)
 
Most excitingly along with the National Trust we are experimenting with new survey methods, using dormouse footprint tubes and hair traps, which have had very encouraging results in other places.
 
You can help too! Why not take part in the Exmoor Wild Watch dormouse nut hunt this autumn. See our website for more details (http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/exmoor-wildwatch).

West Country Buzz - Working with farmers to support pollinator-friendly land management
Cathy Horsley (Bumblebee Conservation Trust)
  

Common carder bee

(photo: Linda Peall)

The dramatic decline of bumblebees and other pollinators has hit the headlines in recent years. Pollinators are essential for productive and sustainable farming. They pollinate pasture, 75% of food crops, and wildflowers.
 
The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is working with farmers in the south west to take urgent action to reverse this downward trend. Bumblebees need continuous food through the spring and summer, and somewhere to nest and hibernate.
 
 
 
 
Farmers have been doing outstanding work for pollinators. Successes include providing food by encouraging wild flowers along tracksides and grazing on rotation to allow pasture to flower, and creating nesting habitat by leaving patches of long grass in unproductive areas, cut on rotation.
 
Grants are available to support pollinators through Countryside Stewardship Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package.
 
 
Wildlife Training Events
Bea Davis (ENPA)

The fifth wildlife training programme for Exmoor is now underway. As with previous years the range of topics is diverse - from bats to bees and butterflies - as is the level of training provided. From wildflower identification for complete beginners to advanced mire vegetation monitoring, there is sure to be something for everyone.
 
 
Wildflower and Sea Watch training events (photos: Bea Davis)

Some of the events provide specific survey training, including surveys for nightjars, marine mammals or glow worms. Formal surveys carried out by trained volunteers provide valuable information for the conservation of Exmoor's wildlife. We are immensely grateful to all volunteers for the time committed to this important work.

In contrast, some of the events are 'discovery' sessions which aim to provide an introductory insight into some of Exmoor's fascinating but perhaps less well recorded wildlife, such as dragonflies, lichens and fungi. Although there is no formal survey to follow these discovery sessions we hope you will feel inspired by your new knowledge and will continue recording wildlife on Exmoor. 
 
The events delivered through the training programmes have proved very popular so, to avoid disappointment, make sure you book your place early. To find out more about the training events or to book a place visit http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/get-involved/events-and-training
 
Marine Internship
Hannah Hereward (University of Plymouth, Marine Biological Association & A Rocha International)
   
Hannah Hereward is a Marine Biology Masters student, from the University of Plymouth and Marine Biological Association. She is also a marine intern with A Rocha UK. A Rocha UK partner with Lee Abbey Devon to conserve wildlife and habitats at this Christian conference centre on Exmoor National Park's north Devon coastline.
 
The first aim of Hannah's studies was to identify the diversity of habitats and species on Lee Bay, Lynton. Hannah found 17 habitats and 110 species. Secondly, she identified the seasonal patterns of growth rates and abundance of a large, brown seaweed (oarweed, Laminaria digitata) and its UK primary grazer, the blue-rayed limpet (Patella pellucida). The oarweed's peak growth was in May, with maximums of 2cm per day! The blue-rayed limpet abundance peaked in the summer with maximums of 47 on one oarweed.
 
Hannah Hereward surveying (left, photo: Benjamin Cowburn); Oarweed & blue-rayed limpets (right, photo: Hannah Hereward)
 
Seaweed habitats are critical for carbon absorbtion and as habitat for many species. Reducing pollution on the coast and mechanical damage are important conservation measures. I highly recommend getting down to the coast this summer, at low tide, to explore the wonders of this marine forest and surrounding rocky habitats.
 
Lynmouth Bay kelp beds (photo: Hannah Hereward)
 
All the Moor Butterflies                                                 
Megan Lowe (Butterfly Conservation)  

Butterfly Conservation has launched a brand new project, 'All the Moor Butterflies'. The project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and local partners including Exmoor National Park Authority, aims to conserve some of the UK's most threatened butterfly and moth species across the famous landscapes of Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor.
 
Two project officers started in January; Simon Phelps and Megan Lowe have taken on the roles as Conservation Officer and Community Engagement Officer respectively.
 
 
The two new projects officers (left); High brown fritillary (right, p hoto: Iain H Leach)
 
Over the next three years they will be working closely with landowners and partner organisations to restore and reconnect suitable habitats, as well as raise awareness and create opportunities for local people and members of the public to see, learn about and enjoy these beautiful butterflies.
 
To get involved, find out more or search for an event near you please visit butterfly-conservation.org/allthemoor or email Megan on mlowe@butterfly-conservation.org
 
We hope you have enjoyed our latest e-newsletter. For more information about any of the projects mentioned above, or to let us know how you found this newsletter, please email bdavis@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk.

With best wishes,
  

Bea Davis & Ali Hawkins

Conservation Officers (Wildlife)
Exmoor National Park Authority