One year on: Storm Desmond and the Lake District

One year on from Storm Desmond, National Trust rangers in the Lake District are still fixing the damaged caused by floods that left the charity with facing a million pound clean-up bill – including £600,000 worth of uninsured damage.

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View from Latrigg 2016. Credit John Malley

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PICTURES: Restoring Stonehenge’s chalk grassland in world heritage site’s 30th year

As Stonehenge celebrates 30 years as a World Heritage Site, National Trust rangers and volunteers in Wiltshire are working closely with farmers to restore the chalk grassland landscape that would have been familiar to the monument’s original builders.

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Farmer moves into £1m coastal farm – for just one pound a year

SHEPHERD Dan Jones and his young family have moved in to their ‘dream farm’, the National Trust’s £1 million Parc Farm on the Great Orme, North Wales.

Ceri and Dan Jones and their sheepdogs move into Parc Farm. Credit Richard Williams.JPG

Ceri and Dan Jones and their four sheepdogs, Bet, Tian, Nel and Floss are the new National Trust tenants at Parc Farm on the Great Orme. Credit Richard Williams

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PICTURES: dozing dormouse discovered at Cotehele, Cornwall

A RARE DORMOUSE was found dozing ahead of its winter hibernation by National Trust ranger James Robbins during the last dormouse survey of the year on the conservation charity’s Cotehele Estate, Cornwall.

It is thought that the rare Hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius), which was photographed at the end of October, was sleeping ahead of a last attempt to fatten up on hazel nuts before its winter hibernation.

 James Robbins, National Trust Ranger at Cotehele, said: “Dormice are fattening up for winter. They gorge like mad on berries and nuts in autumn, sleep, and then eat a final meal before crawling under leaf litter at the base of trees for their winter hibernation. They become active again in spring.”

Dormouse at Cotehele

National Trust ranger James Robbins was carrying out his final dormouse survey of the year in late October on the Cothele Estate, Cornwall, when he found a Hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) dozing ahead of its winter hibernation. Britain’s dormice are threatened by habitat loss – but at Cothele conservation work in the woods mean that numbers are booming. Credit: National Trust Images/James Robbins.

There are 60 dormouse nesting boxes in the woods on the Cotehele Estate and ranger James Robbins, a licensed dormouse handler, regularly carries out surveys for the mammal between April and October.

Mr Robbins, 31, said: “Nationally, Britain’s dormice are struggling – but in one undisturbed wooded valley at Cotehele numbers are booming.

“Our hazel woods are the dormice’s ideal habitat. We’ve recently coppiced hazel trees in the woods and grazing by highland cattle has helped create the perfect habitat for these mammals.”

About Hazel (Common) dormice:

  • The golden-brown Hazel dormice are up to 14cm long – about the same length as an iPhone 6.
  • During the summer dormice spend almost all of their time in the branches of trees. Between October and May, dormice hibernate in nests below leaf litter at the base of trees.
  • The loss of hedgerows and lack of management of woodlands (its preferred habitat) means that dormouse numbers are falling. The rare mammals are listed as a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
  • Dormice are a legally protected species and can only be handled under license from Natural England.

PICTURES: “Dream” sighting of rare migrant bird Isabelline shrike at Souter, South Shields

THE CHANCE SIGHTING near South Shields of a small bird normally seen in Mongolia was a “dream come true” for one National Trust ranger.

Dougie Holden, National Trust Assistant Ranger at Souter Lighthouse and the Leas, spotted the Isabelline shrike (Lanius isabellius) on Friday on land cared for by the conservation charity about two miles north of Souter Lighthouse.

The Isabelline shrike is believed to have been blown far off course during its annual migration from Mongolia and China to North Africa. The British Trust for Ornithology estimates that on average just one of these rare visitors is seen in Britain every year.

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Hundreds of birdwatchers flocked to see this Isabelline shrike, which arrived at the National Trust’s Souter Lighthouse and the Leas last Friday after being blown off-course during its annual migration from Mongolia and China to Africa. Credit: National Trust Images/Dougie Holden

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PICTURES: Buckinghamshire bat bucks ghoulish reputation at Cliveden Estate

BATS in Buckinghamshire are failing to live up to their ghoulish reputation – with one calmly sitting in National Trust ranger Jordan Worsfold’s gloved hands during a recent survey on the conservation charity’s Cliveden estate.

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Soprano pipistrelle bat. Credit National Trust Images / Jordan Worsfold

Rangers survey for the bats twice a year under license from Natural England with volunteers from the Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire Bat Group. The woodlands and stately home at Cliveden are home to 10 of the 18 species of bat resident in the UK.

Jordan Worsfold, National Trust Academy Ranger at the Cliveden Estate, said: “If the weather stays mild, this Hallowe’en you’ll be able to see Cliveden’s bats flying through the woods at dusk. Thanks to the proximity of the River Thames and our woodland rides, we’ve got thousands on the estate.”

“Bats have a ghoulish reputation – but it’s undeserved. During a bat survey this year, one female Soprano pipistrelle bat happily sat in my hand as I checked her age and size.”  Continue reading

Autumn colour arrives at Stourhead

As Stourhead in Wiltshire begins to witness the first signs of autumn colour appearing across the garden and wider estate, Alan Power, Stourhead’s head gardener, gears up to tell Radio 4’s PM about the changing landscape.

“This world-famous garden is starting to show signs of autumn’s arrival with golden, orange and red hues beginning to appear in the trees including the acers, the tulip trees and American oaks,” says Alan.

“Every autumn at Stourhead is strikingly distinct, with different types of trees changing at different times. The shorter days and a decent cold snap help to stimulate the chemical processes in the trees and increase the intensity and colour of the leaf foliage.

“Due to the sheltered position of the garden, situated in a valley, Stourhead’s trees generally turn slower than other areas. This means that visitors can experience a slow and gradual change in the garden, always offering a new scene if visited repeatedly over the autumn period.”

To help visitors who are planning to visit this autumn, Stourhead has once again set up the ‘leafline’. By phoning 01747 841152 visitors planning a trip will be able to hear a weekly update on the autumn colours in the garden from Alan Power.