Exmoor Wildlife Newsletter

 Spring/Summer 2016

Edition 10

In This Issue
Knotweed Appeal
Headwaters of the Exe
Shoresearch Exmoor
Exmoor Wild Watch
Exmoor Mires Partnership - Summer of plants and fun for all the family
Natural Environment Record
2016 Exmoor Wildlife Forum
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Welcome to the Exmoor Wildlife Newsletter

This is the third edition as an e-newsletter, which brings you up to date with action to understand, promote and conserve Exmoor's special wildlife. As ever there is a tremendous amount happening from the progress and challenges in controlling invasive knotweeds, to a new project to protect some of Exmoor's special watercourses. What is also clear is the amount of opportunity for nature enthusiasts, locals and visitors, to engage with Exmoor's wildlife through events at the coast and on the mires, and opportunities for people to send in records of some of Exmoor's most charismatic species to help build up a picture of their numbers and distribution. With the wealth of wildlife recording and survey on Exmoor now and in the past, there is a great resource of information at the National Park Authority, which has now been collated into a searchable natural environment record. This edition is full of informative articles that showcase these projects and activities and we hope you enjoy reading them and taking part!
Helen Booker, RSPB
Chair of the Exmoor Nature Conservation Advisory Panel
Exmoor Knotweed Control Project seeks help from landowners
Ali Hawkins, Exmoor National Park Authority
The Exmoor Knotweed Control Project has achieved tremendous success in controlling the spread of Japanese and Himalayan knotweed in some of Exmoor's most beautiful river valleys such as the Exe, Lyn and Heddon. The project, which comprises a partnership of the Environment Agency, the National Trust, Natural England and Exmoor National Park Authority, now has over 1100 sites recorded on Exmoor and each year it treats or monitors all sites where landowners have given consent. Without this treatment not only many of Exmoor's rivers and streams but also woodlands, farmland, hedgebanks and gardens would be ravaged by these aggressive non-native plants.
Owning a property where knotweed is present can be a real problem and new government legislation means that people who do not control the spread of knotweed could now face fines of up to £2,500 or receive anti-social behaviour orders for failing to control it. Knotweed's stout rhizomes are notorious for pushing through tarmac, building foundations and even drains, causing significant damage. This can have implications for selling properties and obtaining mortgages.
For over 10 years the project has been treating sites across the National Park using a professional, qualified contractor. Offering this level of service and being able to treat sites in such a co-ordinated way makes the project unique. Each year the project's partners have donated money to enable this work to be carried out free of charge.
In these difficult financial times the project cannot carry on with this level of contributions so this year we have launched a Knotweed Appeal and are asking landowners to help us control the knotweed on their land by making a small donation towards the cost of carrying out the work. As the project covers a large number of sites across Exmoor it can offer economies of scale which allows it to treat sites at a very much reduced price. We hope that these valuable contributions will allow the project to continue its important work for many years into the future.
Headwaters of the Exe
Bea Davis, Exmoor National Park Authority
The Headwaters of the Exe Project forms part of South West Water's Upstream Thinking programme, which offers an innovative way to improve the quality of drinking water being abstracted from rivers across the South West. The project was formally launched by Stanley Johnson in January 2016 at an event attended by over 85 people.

The project team with Stanley Johnson and at the launch event (credit Steve Guscott)

The range of work carried out through the project is broad and this should provide many benefits, for instance for wildlife within the catchment. The project offers advice and capital grants to farmers and woodland owners, carries out repairs to footpaths and bridleways, offers support for work on the control of non-native invasive species, such as Japanese knotweed and signal crayfish, and carries out monitoring to ensure the work is having the desired effect.
Through the project, advisers from Exmoor National Park Authority and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group offer free visits to farmers and woodland managers within the catchment. If you would like a visit but have not yet had one please contact project manager Bea Davis.
More information about the project can be found on the ENPA website or a project leaflet is available from Exmoor National Park Authority.

Shoresearch Exmoor
Coral Smith, Devon Wildlife Trust

Shoresearch Exmoor was a citizen science project delivered between 2013 and 2015 by Devon Wildlife Trust and Somerset Wildlife Trust, with the support and funding of the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund.
The aims of the project were to raise awareness and understanding of Exmoor's marine species and habitats and support effective conservation of its marine natural heritage, through nurturing a sense of stewardship among local communities. Eight beaches across Exmoor were selected for the project and numerous surveys, volunteer training days and public events were carried out at these sites over the two year period.
Beautiful brittlestar at Porlock Weir (credit John Kemp)

The main focus of Shoresearch Exmoor was the volunteer-led surveying of a suite of intertidal indicator species (indicators of climate change or pollution as well as non-native species and rare/protected species), using a variety of survey methods. The findings of the project indicate that there is a wide diversity of marine life on Exmoor's rocky shore, including the rare and protected kaleidoscope jellyfish and honeycomb worm, together with an abundance of anemones, sea snails and crabs.
Kaleidoscope jellyfish at Combe Martin (credit Jan Whittington)

Shoresearch Exmoor succeeded in building a foundation for monitoring marine species and habitats, but there is still much more to learn and discover! It is hoped that the surveying of Exmoor's marine and coastal wildlife will continue into the future. This, together with the recent designation of two Marine Conservation Zones along the North Devon coast, clearly illustrates that the marine life on Exmoor is extremely special and worthy of protection.
A final strand of the project was the development of educational resources for local teachers and educators, which will hopefully contribute towards the development of the next generation of marine champions on Exmoor.
Devon and Somerset Wildlife Trusts would like to thank the Exmoor National Park Authority for funding and supporting this project, and most importantly to all of the volunteers who helped with surveys and public events.
Shoresearch volunteer team at Combe Martin
For a copy of the full project report please contact Coral Smith ( Marine Education Officer, Devon Wildlife Trust).

Exmoor Wild Watch
Ali Hawkins, Exmoor National Park Authority

2016 sees the launch of the third Exmoor Wild Watch Survey which encourages people to submit sightings of 12 charismatic species on Exmoor. Since the survey began in 2014 we have collated over 800 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 barn owl, Daubenton's bat, glow worm, toad, string-of-sausages lichen, waxcap fungi, harbour porpoise, hedgehog, common blue butterfly, cuckoo, red kite and kestrel.

Already this year we have had over 120 records submitted with 70 of these for cuckoo, the earliest being recorded on 12th April near Bossington which compares to the earliest sighting in 2015 being on April 14th and in 2014 on 13th April. Exmoor is a real south-west stronghold for these fascinating birds which are now very much restricted to moorland areas and the survey confirms that numbers are doing well despite a cold spring in the UK following their migration from Africa.
Credit Liz Mitchell Photography Exmoor
Cuckoo (Credit Liz Mitchell Photography Exmoor)
It is encouraging that we have already had eight barn owl sightings this year. This much-loved bird has suffered decline in numbers nationally, and any recorded sightings will be invaluable in helping us all to better understand the status of the barn owl in the National Park.
To date there have been 15 kestrel sightings and nine red kite sightings. Red kites have mainly been seen around the coast and valley areas of Exmoor. These birds are likely to be juveniles exploring from Wales, the midlands and France. The timings of these sightings last year was fascinating with the first red kite spotted in March, six in April, a similar number in May, peaking with ten in June, but not a single sighting for the rest of the year. It is particularly positive that a pair of birds of have been seen on a number of occasions.
We hope we will have a record number of sightings submitted this year with an easy online form.

Exmoor Mires Partnership - Summer of plants and fun for all the family
Morag Angus, South West Water
On the 7th & 8th June the Exmoor Mires Partnership ran two training days about identifying mire plants found on Exmoor. This has led into our summer season of vegetation surveying on restored mire sites. If you would like to take part in our surveys, even if you did not attend the training events, please follow the links via the Get Involved ENPA website.
On Tuesday 26th July it's Bogtastic Day! Held during UK National Park's Week, Bogtastic is the South West's biggest and best bog festival celebrating the special qualities of Exmoor's bogs, heritage and wildlife. Over 400 people attended last year! This 'drop in' event will feature the Bogstacle course, stream dipping, live bats, the opportunity to visit one of the South West's last remaining operational water powered sawmills, and lots more all-weather and undercover activities. There is something for everyone! Entry is free, with toilets and food on site. We are looking for volunteers to help run activities and make the event run smoothly so if you are able to help out on the day please contact Lucy McQuillan, our Bogtastic Co-ordinator.
Natural Environment Record
April Windle, Exmoor National Park Authority
From extensive areas of ancient woodland to vast expanses of upland heath, this unique and characteristic range of habitats is what we have to thank for a National Park so diversely rich in wildlife. Having a good understanding of Exmoor's biodiversity is essential to ensure that effective management and conservation measures are put in place to protect and preserve this area of national importance.

Over the years, thanks to the help of dedicated volunteers and partner organisations, the National Park Authority has gathered large amounts of information surrounding Exmoor's natural environment. One of the key priorities highlighted in the Partnership Plan 2012-17 was to improve the collation of this pre-existing information; this has been achieved by establishing a coordinated Natural Environment Record. The NER pulls together all existing research and monitoring, acting as Exmoor's repository for biological information. The record is comprised of wildlife and habitat data that has been gathered from across the National Park, listing over 900 documents in total. This easily searchable system is an invaluable resource which provides a deepened understanding of Exmoor's natural environment.

Centralising this information will prove a highly beneficial resource, by highlighting any species or geographic gaps in our knowledge, providing focus for future research and monitoring, and inform and contribute to conservation decisions, whilst promoting public enjoyment and encouraging further biological recording across the Park. For further information please contact April Windle (Wildlife Records Intern).

2016 Exmoor Wildlife Forum
Bea Davis, Exmoor National Park Authority
By popular demand, following on from the success of the first ever Exmoor Wildlife Forum which took place in the autumn of 2015, we have decided to host a second Wildlife Forum during 2016. The event will take place in Porlock Village Hall on Tuesday 22nd November 2016.
    Speakers from the 2015 Exmoor Wildlife Forum
Booking for the event is not yet open; invitations will be sent out nearer the time, including to all those on the mailing list for this newsletter. Last year's event was generously funded by the Heart of Exmoor Project, which came to an end earlier this year. This year we will be asking for a small contribution to help cover the costs of the event, with free places available for Exmoor wildlife volunteers to say thank you for all their help and suppport with wildlife work on Exmoor.
We hope you have enjoyed our third e-newsletter. For more information about any of the projects mentioned above, or to let us know how you found this newsletter, please email Bea. If you can think of other people who may enjoy this newsletter please do feel free to forward it to them.

Best wishes,

Bea Davis & Ali Hawkins     Follow us on Twitter

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