PICTURES: New arrival for ‘Ronald’ the Farne Islands shag

An egg belonging to a Farne Islands shag christened ‘Ronald’ by a Year 4 class from Gateshead has hatched.
Sarah Lawrence, National Trust ranger on the remote Northumberland islands, said: “Ronald nests right next to the main jetty on Staple Island. He’s probably the most photographed shag on the island.”
Ronald the shag CREDIT Sarah Lawrence, National Trust

Ronald the shag sitting on top of ‘his’ nest on the Farne Islands, Northumberland. Credit: Sarah Lawrence/National Trust

Continue reading

PICTURES: Rare dormouse snores in Surrey ranger’s palm

A snoring dormouse was caught cuddling her tail as it napped in a National Trust ranger’s hand at Holmwood Common, near Dorking.

Rangers from the conservation charity were looking for rare hazel dormice in the 50 nest boxes that have been placed on the Surrey common, which was once owned by William the Conqueror.

dormouse in hand

National Trust ranger Sophie Parker discovered a snoring female dormouse cuddling her tail during a regular survey for the rare mammals at Holmwood Common, near Dorking. CREDIT: Sophie Parker/National Trust. 

Sophie Parker, National Trust area ranger at nearby Leith Hill, discovered the female dormouse at the end of April whilst checking the boxes under the supervision of a licensed handler from the Surrey Dormouse Group. Continue reading

Celebrating International Dawn Chorus Day 2017

Hundreds of early birds will get the chance to hear the dawn chorus over the next week, as National Trust places celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day.

The global event, which takes place this Sunday, will be marked by dawn chorus walks led by rangers and expert birdwatchers at more than 20 National Trust places this month.

Among the sites where walks are planned are Cambridgeshire’s Wicken Fen, one of the UK’s oldest nature reserves and home to rare cuckoos, and Greenway, mystery writer Agatha Christie’s Devon retreat and a sanctuary for scarce farmland bird the cirl bunting.

Robin sitting amongst the branches of Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' in the Winter Garden at Dunham Massey, Cheshire.

Research suggests that listening to the dawn chorus could prove good for the mind – as well as the legs.

The University of Tampere’s Dr Eleanor Ratcliffe spent four years researching the psychological benefits of birdsong. Her PhD at University of Surrey, which discovered that listening to birdsong could relieve feelings of stress, was supported by the National Trust and Surrey Wildlife Trust.

Dr Ratcliffe said: “There’s a large body of research showing that being in nature can help people suffering from stress or mental fatigue. We now also know that natural sounds like birdsong can have similar effects.

“We found that people responded best to birdsong that is melodic, like a blackbird’s song. As for me, I’ve always thought that the wren had a beautiful voice.”

Pete Brash, an expert ecologist at the National Trust, added: “There’s no better feeling than heading out whilst it’s still dark and listening to the birds waking up around you.

“At this time of year listen out for the languid serenade of the willow warbler. If you’re lucky you might even hear a nightingale.”

Read our online guide to British birdsong.

85 years on from the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass rangers battle to restore the rare Peak District bog

A Peak District hillside that became a battleground ramblers’ right to roam is now at the centre of a new fight – as rangers battle to save one of the world’s rarest nature habitats.

This weekend walkers, campaigners and rangers celebrated the 85th anniversary of the Mass Trespass on Kinder Scout.

On 24 April, 1932, hundreds of walkers descended on the Peak District moor to draw attention to their inability to roam in the countryside. They were met by gamekeepers determined to stop them.

The trespass saw six ramblers arrested – but sparked a campaign that would eventually see law passed to allow people to walk freely over land in places like national parks.

One of the gritstone boulders standing amongst smaller stones on the heath, part of the Kinder Scout Rock formation in the Peak District, Derbyshire

One of the gritstone boulders standing amongst smaller stones on the heath, part of the Kinder Scout Rock formation in the Peak District, Derbyshire. CREDIT: Joe Cornish/National Trust Images

Continue reading

Peak District nestbox bung boost for rare pied flycatchers

More than 100 nestboxes have been ‘uncorked’ as Peak District rangers prepare for the return of a rare migrant bird.

Over 30 pairs of rare pied flycatchers arrive in the ancient oak woodlands at Padley Gorge, near Sheffield, from West Africa every spring.

To make sure there are enough nest boxes for the red-listed birds National Trust rangers stopper the entrance holes to 100 boxes in March to prevent blue tits and great tits from using the homes. Around 20 rangers and volunteers return in April to remove the bungs.

NTNstB7

National Trust ranger Mark Bull removes the cork bungs from pied flycatcher nest boxes in Padley Gorge, near Sheffield. CREDIT: David Bocking

Continue reading

Formby celebrates 50 years in National Trust care

Rangers, volunteers and campaigners have celebrated 50 years of conservation at Formby.

The mile-long stretch of dunes and pinewoods on the Sefton coast was acquired by the National Trust in 1967, following a £20,000 fundraising appeal.

Father and children on the beach at Formby, Liverpool

Family on Formby beach. (c) Chris Lacey/National Trust Images

Continue reading

Expert Matthew Oates picks his favourite spring wildlife as holly blue butterfly booms

Britain is enjoying a holly blue butterfly boom as warm temperatures cause spring wildlife to flourish.

National Trust gardeners report one of the best years in decades for the holly blue butterfly, but nature experts confess that the reasons for the butterfly explosion remain a mystery.

Holly blue male in Gloucestershire CREDIT Matthew Oates, National Trust Images.jpg

Holly blue butterfly (c) Matthew Oates/National Trust Images

Continue reading