PICTURES: Spring daffodil display at Cornwall’s Cotehele

Bright yellow daffodils banished grey sky blues for Cornish tot Pearl Fogarty.

The four-year-old spent the day in the gardens at Cotehele, near Saltash, Cornwall, which boast more than 250 varieties of daffodils.

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Pearl Fogarty, 4, with the daffodils at Cotehele, Cornwall. Credit: Steven Haywood / National Trust Images

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New research lands Victorian fin whale discovery at Cotehele

A giant jawbone in a Cornish stately home has at last been found to be from a Victorian fin whale – thanks to a mixture of cutting edge DNA analysis and archival research.

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Acting house and collections manager Nick Stokes with the whale bones at Cotehele, Cornwall. (c) Steven Haywood / National Trust Images

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VIDEO: Lamb born at height of Storm Doris ‘doing well’, says shepherd

A rare breed lamb born at Sutton Hoo last week as Storm Doris gusted over Britain is ‘doing well’, says the National Trust shepherd who helped with her birth.

The Manx loaghtan lamb, who was born in the early hours of Friday morning at the historic Suffolk site, was christened ‘Doris’ by rangers from the conservation charity.

Doris the lamb, born last week at Sutton Hoo. (c) National Trust

Doris the lamb, born last week at Sutton Hoo. (c) Sarah Haile/National Trust

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UPDATE: Rangers begin clearing up after Storm Doris

National Trust rangers and gardeners have spent the morning cleaning up after Storm Doris forced more than fifty National Trust places to close yesterday.

The storm which saw up to 90mph gusting over the countryside toppled trees at the conservation charity’s gardens and parks across England – including a 200 year old oak tree on the historic Vyne estate in Hampshire.

Fifty one National Trust places took the decision to close to the public yesterday. They included Arlington Court in Devon and Kedleston Hall, near Derby.

Although the storm is predicted to blow itself out by the end of the week, people planning to visit their local National Trust property are urged to check www.nationaltrust.org.uk for any updates on continued closures

High winds brought down a 200 year old oak tree at The Vyne, Hampshire, yesterday afternoon. The Tudor estate had taken the precautionary step of closing to visitors.

At Bickerton Hill, Cheshire, rangers have spent the morning removing a large oak tree and smaller conifers that had smashed into the estate’s access road.

Jon Twigg, Area Ranger for the National Trust in Cheshire, said: “It will probably be next week before we know the full scale of the damage at our sites in the Wirral.”

Trees have also been toppled at Morden Hall Park, south London, Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, and Killerton, near Exeter.

And at Woolacombe, north Devon, the storms left jellyfish stranded on the beach.

Elsewhere the storms brought more welcome news. A rare breed lamb born last night at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, has been christened ‘Doris’ by rangers.

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Doris the lamb. Credit: National Trust

Andrew Cappell, a National Trust shepherd with 36 years’ experience, said: “Doris will be spending her first day in a pen so we can make sure she’s well, but then she’ll be out greeting visitors to Sutton Hoo over the next few weeks.

“I’ll be down at Sutton Hoo tomorrow morning to make sure she’s got a full belly. And if the weather’s fine we’ll introduce her to the rest of the flock.”

Meet ‘Doris’ the rare-breed lamb born at Sutton Hoo as the winds raged

A rare-breed lamb born last night as yesterday’s storm blew through has been christened ‘Doris’ by National Trust rangers at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk.

Born in the early hours of Friday, the lamb is the first of the year for the flock and the first pure-breed Manx Loaghtan to join the sheep cared for by National Trust shepherd Andrew Capell.

The flock, which spend most of the year on the Orford Ness National Nature Reserve, move to drier ground over the winter months, with many of the expectant ewes moving to Sutton Hoo.

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Doris the lamb. Credit: National Trust

Andrew, 52, said: “She’s definitely an early arrival, but looking really healthy and is the first of several pure Manx-Loaghtans we’ll be welcoming this spring. She’s only six hours old but already she’s very lively.

“After all the drama of the weather with Storm Doris, there really was only one name we could choose for her.”

Andrew and sheepdog Kite look after the Orford Ness flock which includes a number of rare breeds, all chosen for their ability to thrive in the challenging coastal landscape.

Known as a ‘conservation grazing’ flock, the sheep are hard workers on the Ness, moving from field to field where they keep the grass well mown and generate ideal conditions for other wildlife to thrive.

Part of the flock is currently grazing the burial mounds at Sutton Hoo, where in 1939 archaeologists discovered the remains of a spectacular boat burial dating back to the seventh century.

Archaeological survey work taking place later in the year means that the grass needs to be shorter. And, because of the historical significance of the mounds, heavy mechanical mowers cannot be used.

Andrew, who has spent 36 years as a shepherd, added: “We have another 25 ewes expecting, some are Manx Loaghtans and some are White-faced Woodlands.

“Doris will be spending her first day in a pen so we can make sure she’s well, but then she’ll be out greeting visitors to Sutton Hoo over the next few weeks.

“I’ll be down at Sutton Hoo tomorrow morning to make sure she’s got a full belly. And if the weather’s fine we’ll introduce her to the rest of the flock.”

All the lambs born at Sutton Hoo this spring will stay there until April, when they will move back to Orford Ness.

Birdwatchers flock to see short-eared owls at Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire

Birdwatchers from across the East of England have spent the winter entranced by one of Britain’s most impressive birds.

Around ten short-eared owls have been seen on Burwell Fen, near Ely, Cambridgeshire, by rangers from the National Trust’s Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve.

The sandy-coloured owls, which are one of Britain’s largest and unlike many others thrive in open countryside, arrive on the reserve in October. The birds will leave the reserve, which home to many vulnerable wetland and grassland species, in in March for their breeding grounds in the Scottish uplands or northern Scandinavia.

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Short-eared owl at Wicken Fen, near Cambridge. Credit: Prashant Meswani

Birdwatchers have been treated to stunning views of the short-eared owls, capturing the owls performing mid-air acrobatics and skirmishes with other birds of prey.

But behind the pictures is an important conservation story that rangers from the National Trust reserve are keen to tell.

Martin Lester, Countryside Manager at Wicken Fen, said: “The habitat on Burwell Fen is ideal for the short eared owls. Their numbers have increased over recent years since we started grazing the fen with our konick ponies and highland cattle.

“The ponies and cattle help create a mixture of vegetation heights and open spaces that are perfect for voles – the owls’ preferred prey. It also has plenty of posts for the owls to roost. The fen is home to lots of vulnerable grassland and wetland species.

“The owls have been a big draw for birdwatchers and photographers across the region. And if people want the best views of the owls, they should stick to the raised banks or public footpaths. These banks offer panoramic views of the fen – and ensures our visitors to see the owls without disturbing these wonderful birds.”

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Short-eared owl hunting at Wicken Fen, near Cambridge. Credit: Prashant Meswani

National Trust rangers added that birdwatchers should not stray onto the fen in search of a better photograph of the owls.

Burwell Fen is a wintering home to a large number of vulnerable grassland and wetland species. Rangers said that by walking onto the fen would risk disturbing the birds and

Wicken’s other rare wildlife – and could lead to the owls looking for alternative wintering sites in the future.

VIDEO: Meet Gavin, the one-horned ram helping rare plants on the Great Orme farm

THREE HUNDRED sheep make their home on a wind-swept clifftop in north Wales – but a new arrival has left the headland’s rams feeling sheepish.

20-month-old Gavin was bought by Great Orme farmer Dan Jones and charity Plantlife in November to breed with his 70 Herdwick-breed sheep.

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Meet Gavin, the one-horned Herdwick ram. He belongs to Dan Jones, farmer at Parc Farm on the Great Orme in North Wales. 

Watch the full video of Gavin on the Great Orme.

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