Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

Mosey in the Margins at South Down Farm

Mosey in the Margins at South Down Farm

On the 11th July, I headed down to South Down Farm in Marlborough, Devon for a joint event with the National Trust. We were hosting a guided walk around the beautiful coastal farm with locals to see what we could find, as well as learn more about the different management practices that have been put in place.

I met with Emma and Ken from the National Trust and 12 other members of the public at about 6 pm and after some introductions and information about Colour in the Margins, we headed off for our first stop – an arable margin. It was full of colour and there were Common Poppies, Field Pansy, Scarlet Pimpernel and Mayweeds to be found, a great start!

We headed along the path to a few more stops, where we encouraged people to smell, listen and take time to appreciate where we were. We also stopped off where we could find some Small-flowered Catchfly; one of the primary species for the project – it was great to introduce the public to something that really isn’t very common.

The evening carried on through some grass meadows where sheep weren’t allowed – it meant that the grass wasn’t munched on as much, with just cattle present. We also saw Cirl Bunting flying around. Historically there were only 3 pairs but across the three farms, South Down, East Bore and Bolt Head there are now believed to be 40 pairs.

We then hugged the coastline, dropping down into the valley to see Starehole Cove, which I imagine is incredible on a sunny day – it was still impressive despite the overcast evening! On the way down to the coastline, we learnt about the highland cattle and how cutting sections into the gorse hedges encouraged the cattle to disturb these areas to allow light in, which in turn benefits other species too. I also learnt that Highland Cattle absolutely love Ivy and will do anything to get to it!

We headed up to a view point after being along the coast and the views were absolutely stunning. As we headed back to the Rangers office, we took the time to look at Mosey in the Margins (an education arable plant resource) to see what else we could spot and I got lots of lovely comments about how helpful it was to see pictures, so people could match things up – Field Madder, Fumitories and Field Speedwell were now ticked off! We also spied 3 deer in the field on the way back – but they were too far to tell which species but it was lovely to see them enjoying the natural watering hole on a summers evening.

All in all, it was a great evening and it meant that we now have a few more volunteers who are keen to get involved with surveying some areas near them, as well as raising awareness of arable plant species. Some people even said they had walked on South Down Farm for years but had never stopped to see what plants they could find, and that they would spend a little more time, next time they visited – a success in my mind!

If you want to know more about Colour in the Margins and how you can volunteer or what events are happening near you, please email me on zoe.morrall@plantlife.org.uk. You can also request your own copy of Mosey in the Margins, or download a copy here: Mosey-in-the-Margins_Web-version.pdf

 

Zoe Morrall

Project Officer - Colour in the Margins

 

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