Summer on the reserve

Summer on the reserve

Published: 22 September 2014

As seasons go, spring, summer and early autumn have just been fantastic for wildlife of all sorts. Whether it was the super-pod of 800 common dolphin seen at the start of the summer or the great variety of orchids around the headland during mid-summer, anyone would find it hard to deny the abundance of wildlife this year. Even the invertebrate life has had a successful year. There were times when the buzz from the insects was almost overwhelming in the meadow. The discovery of a colony of small blue butterflies on site also added to the excitement, along with the find of a deaths head hawk moth larvae, a rare migratory moth from southern Europe, made famous by the film “The Silence of the Lambs”

The torrid weather this winter resulted in mass seabird mortality, over 50,000 birds, mainly puffins but also guillemots and razorbills succumbed to the heavy seas. Fortunately, our guillemot colony has seemed to have weathered the storm and the average number of birds during the peak breeding season has increased from 1071 last year, to 1304 this year.

As testament to all of the hard work put in last winter by volunteers and the estate team, the wildflowers put on an amazing show all-round site this year, maybe in part down to some exceptionally good growing conditions too! It seemed an especially good year for bee orchids and the nationally rare honewort seemed to growing everywhere.

The conditions seemed better as well for the greater horseshoe bats, with a maternity roost count of 64 adults and 22 young! Again the consistently warm evenings just at the right time resulted in many prey species being available to adult and young alike.

Another success story was the discovery of a new moth on site that could well be the first endemic population in the UK. We should hopefully know more next year.

As always the Friends of Berry Head have had an active role on the site, supporting us in all of our activities. This year the Berry Head Family Fun Dog Show, run by the Friends in conjunction with the trust, was a massive success and donations exceeded all expectations. The money raised is going towards a new guillemot camera on the cliffs.

The trust couldn’t operate if it wasn’t for the massive support we receive through the community in terms of volunteers and Berry Head is no different. If you wish to come and get stuck in whether helping us manage habitats such as our wildflower grasslands, staffing the visitor centre or helping out with surveying on site, then contact us on [email protected] or call the reserve office on 01803 882619.

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