Not so common: where is the Common Blue?

Conservationists are seeking the help of millions of holidaymakers heading to the coast this summer in a bid to solve the mystery of a disappearing butterfly.

Common Blue at Cogden, National Trust beach in Dorset. Credit John Newbold

Common Blue at Cogden, National Trust beach in Dorset. Credit John Newbold

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Wartime tunnels open at the White Cliffs of Dover

Second World War tunnels built on the orders of Winston Churchill underneath the White Cliffs of Dover, have opened to visitors for the first time following a two-year conservation project involving over 50 volunteers.

Fan Bay Deep Shelter, for blog post, credit Richard Crowhurst Corvidae (1)

Fan Bay Deep Shelter. Copyright National Trust, credit Richard Crowhurst Corvidae

Fan Bay Deep Shelter was built in the 1940s as part of Dover’s offensive and defensive gun batteries, which were designed to prevent German ships moving freely in the English Channel. The shelter was personally inspected by Winston Churchill in June 1941.

Carved out of the chalk cliffs, the shelter accommodated four officers and up to 185 men of other ranks during bombardments in five bomb-proof chambers and also had a hospital and secure store. It was decommissioned in the 1950s and filled in two decades later.

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National Trust invest £30m in sustainable future

Plas Newydd Country House and Gardens, Anglesey, Wales. This fine 18th century mansion sits on the shores of the Menai Strait.

Plas Newydd Country House and Gardens, Anglesey, Wales. Home to a marine source heat pump which was installed in 2014. Credit National Trust images, John Millar

The National Trust today (Monday 6 July 2015) announced its biggest ever investment, of £30million, in renewable energy to heat and power more of its historic places. The announcement follows the successful completion of five renewable energy projects at National Trust properties – part of a £3.5million pilot launched with Good Energy in 2013.

The investment, by Europe’s biggest conservation charity, marks a milestone towards reaching its targets to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, cut energy usage by 20% and source 50% from renewable sources on its land by 2020.

The Trust’s renewable energy programme could also help save up to £4m on its energy costs each year. Electricity generated from some of the projects will be sold to the grid providing the charity with a source of income. This income, coupled with the savings made, will allow more money to be spent on vital conservation work.

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Unique mapping project to capture the sounds of our shores

The public is being asked to record the sounds that shape and define our relationship with the coast across the UK in a three-month crowd sourced sound project – ‘sounds of our shores’ – being launched today by the National Trust, National Trust for Scotland and the British Library.

Sounds can be uploaded on to the first ever UK coastal sound map, hosted on the British Library website [1]. It could be the vibrant sounds of a working fishing village, gulls screaming on one of the wonderful seabird islands dotted around our coast or the kettle whistling from inside a much loved beach hut.

Fruit machines on piers and seafronts are just one of the vibrant sounds that you can hear on the coastline. Credit: Tim Stubbings

Fruit machines on piers and seafronts are just one of the vibrant sounds that you an hear on the coastline. Credit: Tim Stubbings

All of these sounds will be added to the British Library Sound Archive – creating a snapshot of the beautiful and diverse UK coastline that future generations will be able to hear.

The coastal sound map project co-incides with the 50th anniversary of the National Trust Neptune Coastline Campaign. Launched in May 1965, the Trust now manages 775 miles of coast in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Martyn Ware on Brighton   beach recording sounds for the sounds of our shores project. Credit: Tim Stubbings

Martyn Ware on Brighton beach recording sound for the sounds of our shores project. Credit: Tim Stubbings

Musician, producer and founder member of Human League and Heaven 17, Martyn Ware, will be using the sounds submitted by the public to create a brand new piece of music for release in February 2016.

Cheryl Tipp, Curator of Wildlife and Environment Sounds at the British Library, said: “There is something really evocative about the sounds of our coast; they help shape our memories of the coastline and immediately transport us to a particular time or place whenever we hear them.

“As millions of us head to the coast this summer for holidays or day trips we want the public to get involved by recording the sounds of our amazing coastline and add them to the sound map. This could be someone wrestling with putting up a deck-chair, the sounds of a fish and chip shop or a busy port.

“We’d also love to hear from people that might have historic coastal sounds, which might be stored in a box in the loft. This will help us see how the sounds of our coastline have changed over the years.”

Sounds recorded, whether on a smart phone, tablet or handheld recorder, can be uploaded to the map via the Sounds of our shores audioBoom website or app (they are both free and easy to use). The sounds will then appear on the map, which will be hosted on the British Library website.

All of the sounds should be a maximum of five minutes in length and images and words about the sound can be added. People will then be able to share their sounds on the map with friends and family. The closing date for uploading sounds is Monday 21 September 2015.

At the end of the project all of the sounds that appear on the map will then be added to the British Library’s Sound Archive, where they will join more than 6.5 million sounds dating back to the birth of recorded sound in the 19th century. The British Library Sound Archive includes tens of thousands of environmental recordings from storms and waves to birdsong and weather, which provide live data to scientists and researchers detailing how our world sounded at a given moment in time, and enable them to identify changes in our natural environment over time.

The sounds from the ‘sounds of our shores’ map will be used by Martyn Ware to create a new piece of music.

A 20-minute soundscape will transport listeners to the sensory richness of the coastline; capturing the working coastline and the coast where we go to play.

Martyn Ware, said: “I’ve had a deep connection with the coast all of my life. As a kid growing up in Sheffield we’d go on family holidays to Scarborough or Skegness; I can still remember the sounds that filled our days at the seaside.

“There is something emotionally deep about our connection with the coast which has shaped our identity. That is what is so exciting about this new commission and I want to capture the sensory nature of the coastline, reflecting the diversity and beauty of the sounds of our shores.”

Catherine Lee, National Trust Community and Volunteering Officer on the Lizard in Cornwall and a former sound recordist, said: “Visitors to the coast can record their footsteps in the sand then play it back a few days later and suddenly you’ll find yourself transported back to the moment you were walking. Or maybe record the sound of people ordering and eating ice-creams, the waves crashing against the rocks, the seagulls calling….it’s all totally unique.

“Sound has a wonderful way of bringing us back to a moment in time, a place or an emotional space.”

To get involved in the project visit http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/coastal-sounds for top tips on recording sounds on the coastline and information about how to upload them on to the map. Participants will also be able to share their sounds on social media using the hashtag #shoresounds.

Wildlife on the Great Orme

Matthew Oates, National Specialist on Nature and Wildlife for the National Trust, shares his love for the Great Orme in North Wales and the wildlife that calls it home.

The Great Orme is a place of pilgrimage for British naturalists.  Try finding a botanist or a butterfly enthusiast who hasn’t been there, or at least one who doesn’t desperately want to visit.  It is also on the birders’ radar, for its increasing Chough population and because it is a place where rare migrants turn up.  Bat, beetle, lichen, moss, moth and marine wildlife enthusiasts also know and love the Great Orme, as do geologists, geographers and archaeologists. In effect, it is a wildlife paradise.

The Great Orme, 12/05/15. Photograph Richard Williams richardwilliamsimages@hotmail.com 07901518159

The Great Orme, Credit National Trust, Richard Williams

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National Trust to complete largest ever survey of its coastal wildlife

BioBlitz12, Copyright National Trust, credit Steven Haywood

The National Trust are carrying out 25 BioBlitzes of coastal wildlife this summer. Copyright National Trust, credit Steven Haywood

This summer, hundreds of wildlife lovers and nature experts will help the National Trust to carry out its largest ever survey of coastal wildlife as part of the conservation charity’s year-long celebrations of the coast.

24 places along the 775 miles of coastline looked after by the National Trust across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will host a BioBlitz, a race against the clock involving rangers, experts and members of the public to record as many different species as possible.

A 25th BioBlitz will also be held at Kinver Edge in Staffordshire. Although land locked, this beautiful sandstone escarpment was once formed of ancient sand dunes and the survey will help uncover how some coastal wildlife can live away from the sea.

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Head for the hills – are ewe the right person for this one-off shepherding opportunity?

The National Trust is looking for a second shepherd to support an innovative conservation project in the foothills of Snowdon in North Wales.

Herding the sheep on the mountains above Hafod Y Llan. Credit Joe Cornish

Herding the sheep on the mountains above Hafod Y Llan. Credit Joe Cornish

The conservation charity’s in-hand farm, Hafod-y-Llan, manages 1600 Welsh Mountain sheep and every day between May and September, some of the flock is shepherded to new grazing areas away from any sensitive mountain habitats such as upland heaths and flushes (wet, boggy areas), in a bid to improve plant diversity on areas of the mountain.

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