Task Le Petit Pré is perhaps one of Jersey’s least well-known Sites of Special Interest; however, despite its small size it is very important for the diversity of wild species that can be found there. Willow is encroaching on the site’s special wet meadow and we need to make sure it doesn’t take over! Using small hand cutting tools we will cut willow back from the southern side of the meadow and use it to create dead hedges for wildlife to enjoy.
If you have any questions, or if you wish to be added (or removed) to/from the Wild About Jersey email list, please contact either Julia Clively (tel: 441600; email@example.com) or Jon Parkes (tel: 483193; firstname.lastname@example.org).
The site Meet at Riley Field carpark, located opposite Trinity School.
Jersey Phone Directory Map 10, AA9 Google maps here
Time Meet ready to start work at 10:30. We will finish work at approximately 12:30 to give us the chance for a catch up over a cuppa.
Parking There is parking in the Riley Field carpark, located opposite Trinity School.
Tools needed As usual, we can provide some tools and gloves but if you have any small hand cutting tools such as loppers and saws and gardening gloves please bring them along.
Clothing needed Please bring gardening gloves and note that it maybe wet for this task so please bring welly boots and waterproofs.
Children All are welcome, although we do ask that volunteers under 16 years of age are accompanied by an adult. Due to the uneven ground, a reasonable level of fitness is required.
*Please make sure you bring your own mug or reusable cup*
Kim the Kake will be on hand to reward the workers with her homemade cake and a drink when work is finished. See you there!
Plans to return sheep to the sand dunes of Les Blanches Banques and grazing to revitalise the grasslands
By Tim Liddiard
Les Blanches Banques
The sand dunes of Les Blanches Banques, set in and around St Ouen’s Bay in St Brelade and at the heart of the Jersey National Park is recognised biologically as being one the richest sites of its kind in the Island and has been described as ‘undoubtedly one of the premier dune systems in Europe for its scientific interest’. As the most extensive area of sandy soils in Jersey, the dunes support good populations of many animals and plants on the Island that are not found elsewhere.
During the Medieval period, the dune grasslands were used for sheep grazing and stacking sea weed to dry, the latter was used as fertiliser, or was burnt on the dunes to produce potash.
In the absence of a grazing regime on the sand dunes in recent years, due to the processes of seral succession it is evident that the important grasslands habitats are being subsumed by the spread of mixed scrub.
Currently an amount of grazing is being provided by rabbits but not at a level sufficient to halt or reverse the loss of the important dune grasslands, a key habitat in the Biodiversity Strategy for Jersey 2000 and home to a number of notable plants and a host of other wildlife.
A total of over 400 plant species have been recorded on Les Blanches Banques, many being unique or special to our shores.
Amphibians and reptiles enjoy life on the sand dunes, which harbours five of Jersey’s seven species. Palmate newt and slow worm are present but a visitor from mainland Britain will perhaps be more excited by the exotic looking green lizard with its emerald and aquamarine colouring. Also the western toad is found here rather than the common toad of Britain and northern Europe. The grass snake can be seen here on occasion, they are one of Jersey’s rarest animals and the sand dunes remains one of their few strongholds.
The skylark, a ground nesting bird with an enchanting song is in decline across Europe and is a local Action Plan species, as is the stonechat, a bird whose call resembles the sound of two pebbles being knocked together. The chough, one of the great successes of the Birds On The Edge partnership is known to forage on the sand dunes and the conservation of the grasslands along with the addition of dung and its associated invertebrates will help provide these wonderful birds with an ongoing food source.
It is accepted best conservation practice to graze stabilised dune systems with livestock and the purpose of this project is to trial the grazing of Manx loaghtan sheep in scrub habitats and adjacent grasslands. These habitats have an abundance of burnet rose and other plant species which are becoming dominant over the more desirable dune vegetation which includes orchids, dwarf pansies, sand crocus and much more.
The area selected for initial grazing trials is on the escarpment north of La Moye Golf Club in an area known as Le Carriere. A combination of winter and summer grazing is the ideal, providing the chance to control holm oaks and other evergreens during the winter months and stripping foliage from other target plants (including privet, blackthorn and burnet rose) during the summer. Throughout the project the sheep’s food preferences will be constantly monitored with the hope that they will target the more undesirable plant species.
The sheep are planned to be on site from late February until May 2022.
Importantly, this area currently attracts a low level of public access and will not have a large impact on where people are able to walk.
Our thanks are extended to La Moye Golf Club for allowing the fenceline to tie into their existing fence which allows for a larger area to be grazed.
Benefits to habitats
• To prevent and reverse grassland succession towards mixed scrub within areas being grazed • To maintain and increase plant species diversity within these areas and encourage some bare ground • To introduce and maintain age mosaics throughout gorse and scrub dominated communities • To encourage the reinstatement of species rich grassland especially in grassland ‘islands’ which are contained within the scrub area which are being lost to scrub • To trial which plant species the Manx loaghtans forage on the most, thereby identifying their effectiveness in the control of scrub intrusion onto dune grassland habitats.
Benefits to species
• To provide bare ground for seed germination of dune grassland associated herbs and grasses • To provide bare ground for associated invertebrate species • To identify the effects of Manx loaghtan foraging behaviour on particular plant species , notably burnet rose, bracken, privet and blackthorn • This area is recognised as being important for grass snakes and the creation of grass glades amongst the scrub will provide welcome basking areas for them • There is a strong association and reliance between foraging choughs and short grassland, especially when grazing livestock and their dunging encourage the presence of dung beetles.
A widespread loss of pollinating insects in recent decades has been revealed by the first national survey in Britain, which study authors say “highlights a fundamental deterioration” in nature.
The analysis of 353 wild bee and hoverfly species found the insects have been lost from a quarter of the places they were found in 1980. A third of the species now occupy smaller ranges, with just one in 10 expanding their extent, and the average number of species found in a square kilometre fell by 11.
A small group of 22 bee species known to be important in pollinating crops such as oilseed rape saw a rise in range, potentially due to farmers increasingly planting wild flowers around fields. However, the scientists found “severe” declines in other bee species from 2007, coinciding with the introduction of a widely used neonicotinoid insecticide, which has since been banned.
Researchers have become increasingly concerned about dramatic drops in populations of insects, which underpin much of nature. Some warned in February that these falls threaten a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, while studies from Germany and Puerto Rico have shown plunging numbers in the last 25 to 35 years.
The latest study is based on more than 700,000 sightings made by volunteers across Britain from 1980 to 2013. These are used to map the range of each species of bee and hoverfly over time. The data did not allow the assessment of numbers of insects, but some researchers think populations have fallen faster than range.
Pollinating insects are vital to human food security, as three-quarters of crops depend on them. They are also crucial to other wildlife, both as food and as pollinators of wild plants. “The declines in Britain can be viewed as a warning about the health of our countryside,” said Gary Powney at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology who led the research.
He called for more volunteers to take part in the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme: “Their contribution is vital for us to understand what is happening in our landscape.” Another recent study found that allotments, weedy corners and fancy gardens can all be urban havens for bees.
The biggest factor in the decline in pollinators is likely to be the destruction of wild habitats and use of pesticides as farming has intensified. But the analysis also revealed a particularly big drop of 55% in the range of upland bee and hoverfly species, and significant falls in northern Britain, which may result from climate change making conditions too warm.
Among the bees whose range has shrunk are the formerly widespread red-shanked carder bee, whose extent fell by 42%, and the large shaggy bee, whose range fell 53%. But the lobe-spurred furrow bee, which was once rare, has expanded its range fivefold and is now considered an important crop pollinator in England.
Powney said the increased range of the bees most commonly pollinating crops is good news and might be a result of more oilseed rape being grown, as well as wildflower margins being planted. But he also warned: “They are a relatively small group of species. Therefore, with species having declined overall, it would be risky to rely on this group to support the long-term food security for our country. If anything happens to them in the future there will be fewer other species to ‘step up’.”
Prof Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex and not part of the latest research, said: “Previous studies have described declines in UK butterflies, moths, carabid beetles, bees and hoverflies – this new study confirms that declines in insects are ongoing.”
If the losses of upland and northern species are due to climate change, “then we can expect far more rapid declines of these species in the future, as climate change has barely got started”, he said. Goulson also said the start of more rapid declines in southern bees after 2007 coincided with the first use of now-banned neonicotinoid pesticides.
Matt Shardlow, of the conservation charity Buglife, said unless the pesticide approval process was improved to help bee safety and green subsidies were targeted to create corridors that connect wild spaces, we can expect the declines to continue or worsen.
Download the study Widespread losses of pollinating insects in Britain here
Germany is home to roughly 33,500 species of insects — but their numbers are decreasing dramatically. Of the 189 species of butterflies currently known from Germany, 99 species are on the Red List, five have already become extinct, and 12 additional species are threatened with extinction.
Reduced biodiversity also on areas around intensively cultivated fields
The research team recorded the occurrence of butterfly species in 21 meadow sites east of Munich. Of these study sites, 17 are surrounded by agriculturally used areas, and four are in nature preserves with near-natural cultivation.
The team recorded a total of 24 butterfly species and 864 individuals in all study sites. Specialists among the butterflies were particularly dependent on near-natural habitats, while the more adaptable “generalists” were also found in other grassland sites.
“In the meadows that are surrounded by agriculturally used areas we encountered an average of 2.7 butterfly species per visit; in the four study sites within the protected areas ‘Dietersheimer Brenne‘ and ‘Garchinger Heide‘ near Munich we found an average of 6.6 species,” adds Prof. Werner Ulrich of the Copernicus University in Thorn, Poland.
Negative impact of the industrialised agriculture demands rethinking
“Our results show an obvious trend: in the vicinity of intensively cultivated fields that are regularly sprayed with pesticides, the diversity and numbers of butterflies are significantly lower than in meadows near less used or unused areas,” explains the study’s lead author, Prof. Jan Christian Habel.
“Our study emphasises the negative impact of the conventional, industrialised agriculture on the butterfly diversity and shows the urgent need for ecologically sustainable cultivation methods. Additional field studies may aid in identifying individual factors responsible for the insect die-back and in implementing appropriate countermeasures,” adds Schmitt in closing.
See the paper Agricultural intensification drives butterfly declinehere
A position has opened up in the small team managing the largest flock of sheep on the Island, the wonderful Manx loaghtan sheep which form the basis for our conservation grazing project.
Animal husbandry experience would obviously be beneficial, but the right candidate would more importantly be hard working, self-motivated, willing to learn and above all share our passion for what we (The Reserve) are doing.
For the right candidate this position provides an excellent opportunity to take on further responsibilities, and develop their skills within the role and the total number of hours worked. Hours can be flexible for the right candidate, although some weekend work is necessary.
Training will be given and salary is dependent on experience.
If you are motivated, conscientious and have a great deal of pride in your work, we would love to hear from you. Read on.
Job Description: Stockperson
Employer: The Reserve
Closing Date: 09.03.18
Hours: Part Time
Core skills required: The ability to speak English & a clean driving licence are essential. As are physical fitness, the ability to use your own initiative to solve problems and the drive to ensure work is completed to a high standard.
Tending stock means being out in all weather, and being able to get the job done in challenging situations. The role is not for the faint of heart. We are looking for someone who is motivated and ideally enthused by the same passion for our stock and wildlife conservation that we are.
The most important part of the role consists of animal welfare checks of our sheep at different locations. This includes ensuring that water and feed are plentiful and ensuring that the animals are stress free and in good condition, ensuring the best levels of animal welfare in line with the five freedoms. Animal welfare is our highest priority and as such you must be willing to go to get efforts to ensure our stock are cared for.
The role involves a high degree of lone working and the stockperson must be able to use their initiative to solve problems efficiently and work hard and to a high standard whilst unsupervised. Occasionally the position may also require responding to out of hours emergency situations such as welfare issues and escaped stock if Aaron the shepherd is off island.
In addition to this, the job involves assisting with working the sheep during regular tasks such as the administration of veterinary medications, stock movements, shearing and lambing.
The role will include additional tasks necessary for the management of the project, these may include erecting and taking down electric fencing, branchage, hay making, cleaning and disinfecting equipment and tool and equipment maintenance.
A vehicle for use whilst working, along with all the necessary equipment will be provided. The role will develop, in line with the development of the skills and knowledge of the right candidate. The timing of the role can be flexible for the right candidate, as well as the total hours per week.
The grazing flock of Manx loaghtan sheep at Sorel have been confined to National Trust fields for the past few months.
The shepherds have been busy preparing for the lambing season, moving rams and ewes around Jersey.
Lambing season is now upon us.
As of last week, a large number have been allowed back out to roam freely between Sorel Point and Devil’s Hole. A reminder to our Jersey readers and anyone visiting, please remember to close gates behind you whilst on site. As you will see from the video below, sheep will be sheep. We don’t want them following you back to the car park.
And one last plea – do go and visit them at Sorel. Not only are they endearing, you get to see conservation in action too. Plus the science boffins have proof: Sorel sheep are good for the soul! Trust me, read these:
July 2016 saw the official opening of Plémont Headland and for the first time in over 140 years (before the original “Plémont Hotel” was built in 1874) the public have been free to enjoy this special place.
Creating and protecting “green space” for people has been at the heart of the Plémont debate and acquisition and indeed forms a very important part of the National Trust for Jersey’s ethos. But ensuring that nature has a home is also a vital component of what we do and there has never been a time when action has been so desperately needed.
In 2015 The States Department of the Environment published the results of the Jersey Butterfly Monitoring Scheme after 10 years of collecting data across 38 sites by a team of dedicated volunteers. The results suggest that whilst Jersey’s butterflies might be faring slightly better to those in the UK, the surveyed population has still decreased by 14%, (compared to 29% in the UK). Interestingly Jersey’s butterfly population is doing best in semi-natural sites as opposed to those in agricultural or urban habitats where they are declining. In fact the green hairstreak is one species that is doing particularly well and has been recorded as increasing by 458% in the last 10 years as opposed to suffering a 40% decrease in the UK. This could be seen as a strong indication of the importance of managed semi-natural sites such as Plémont.
The creation of two ponds at Plémont was eagerly anticipated by the local toad and palmate newt population, who were literally queuing up to jump in upon their completion. For two consecutive years the Eastern Pond has been used by both species to breed. This year, the larger Western Pond has seen a whole new generation of toadlets emerge after metamorphosing from their tadpole stage.
Despite the amphibian successes, both ponds have experienced teething problems and most noticeably the appearance of the lime-green algal blooms. Spirogyra is a family of around 400 species of filamentous algae that is commonly found in freshwater and is indicative of clean water that has high concentrations of phosphates and nitrates. It can be easily removed but doing so would jeopardise any invertebrate life or tadpoles that would become encapsulated amongst the tiny strands of algae.
Another issue the ponds face is loss of water through evaporation, due to their exposed position to the sun, wind and transpiration – the evaporation of water from plant leaves. Whilst there is means to top up the water levels from a well, this would mean the introduction of more nutrients which would cause more algae. The proposed solution is to encourage more oxygenating plants and remove the algae once the toads have emerged from the water, decreasing the level of nutrients over time. Equilibrium will be reached, the water quality will improve and we will have to accept that the water levels will drop in the summer months. As long as there is water during the amphibians’ breeding period (February-June) the pond is serving its purpose and will act much like many natural ponds without constant water inflow.
Back in the spring of 2015 you may remember the huge mounds of sandy soil which were spread over the footprint of the demolished buildings. Over 7,000 tonnes of sandy soil, sourced from Les Quennevais and recycled soil from La Collette formed the base of what we now refer to as the restoration area. To create a heathland such as Les Landes we would need a free draining sandy soil with a low pH (pH 5-6 ideally) and low nutrient levels. It is easier to maintain a species-rich wild flower habitat when there are fewer nutrients in the soil. If you add fertiliser (or compost or a lot of manure) to the soil, a small number of competitive plants are able to rapidly exploit these extra nutrients. These species then tend to become dominant and other plants are less able to compete for space. Most plants rely on a relationship with fungi and soil micro-organisms in order to grow. Fertilisers have a negative impact on these organisms making it more difficult for the flowers to grow. With very little choice available, in the quantities we would need, a mixture of sandy soil, sourced from Les Quennevais and recycled sand from La Collette was chosen. Although the average pH was around 8.5, the particularly low nutrient status would mean far less of a burden when it would come to managing the developing vegetation.
This June our Conservation Officer, Jon Rault, assisted by the very knowledgeable local botanist Anne Haden, undertook a vegetation survey to assess how things have developed and have some interesting results. Around 50 plant species have so far been recorded including: wild carrot, toad rush, birds-foot-trefoil and small-flowered catchfly. Maritime Duneland plants such as fragrant evening-primrose, sea beet and sea radish have appeared, but this isn’t so surprising considering the origins of the soil, Les Quennevais of course being built on Dunes. Some more invasive plants such as the non-native cape cudweed and spotted medick which may need some management have become quite well established and some more exotic species including echium and Californian poppy have appeared as likely remnants of the holiday camp era.
Resent soil tests have confirmed that pH levels are still rather alkaline at between pH 8.5 and 8.9 and this is unlikely to change without any intervention due to the amount of concrete based material that must be underneath the layer of imported calcareous sand. Perhaps more encouraging is the nutrient status results from the same soil samples. For example, the amount of available phosphorus is currently between 8.8 and 25.8 mg/l with a “P index” of 0-3, compared to a recently tested former agricultural field which showed levels of available phosphorus at between 66.2 and 153.4mg/l giving a “P index” of between 4 and 7.
Our current situation, with the encouraging results of vegetation surveys, indicates that the soil choice was a good one. Whilst our soil pH is much higher than we would have ideally liked, this is something that can be changed by adding sulphur, an expensive but affective way of raising acidity. As the results from the former agricultural field’s shows, high soil fertility is much more of a problem with no “magic cure”.
The decision on whether to try to acidify our soil in the effort to meet our original vision of creating a heathland is not one that needs to be made straight away and whilst wildlife and people are clearly making good use of the site, we have already achieved much of what we wanted to do.
For the meanwhile, the addition of calcareous grassland to our north coast may be something of an oddity but this may also be its strength and reason to remain as such. A new and interesting patch adding heterogeneity to the landscape is something that’s often lacking.
Further decisions will be required but there will be a need to balance and create opportunities for nature as well as public access and enjoyment.
This piece was originally published in the National Trust for Jersey magazine Discover and is reprinted here with kind permission
Shepherd Aaron Le Couteur has urged dog owners to ensure their animals are kept on leads while walking in areas with lambs after two of his livestock were killed by being chased off a cliff.
The Jersey States police are now investigating following the incident, involving two Manx loaghtan lambs that grazed on land owned by the National Trust for Jersey near Devil’s Hole and are an integral and much-loved part of the Birds On The Edge project. Red-billed choughs need sheep!
Aaron, who put his “heart and soul” into looking after the large flock, said that the incident was “incredibly frustrating”. “It happened at about 3 pm on Sunday [16 July]”. Two lambs were chased off the edge of a cliff by a dog and unfortunately died as a result. “Because there is an eye-witness the police are investigating, using the leads that they have available, and there is visual evidence” he said.
Aaron said that about 90 per cent of dog owners were responsible and had “exactly the right attitude”, but he added: “There is also the ten per cent who are a lot more difficult to get through to”. He added: “it is pretty obvious. There are signs on the gates as you walk in warning you that there are lambs on the site and to tell people to put their dogs on leads. We are trying to keep this open as a public space rather than restrict people from using it. What we have got to try to get across is that these are living, breathing animals and rearing them is no mean feat”.
Charles Alluto CEO of the National Trust for Jersey added “unfortunately some people do not appreciate that the land in question is agricultural land and in private ownership. Public access is totally at the discretion of the land owner and is a great pity that this is abused by a small number of people not fully controlling their dogs as requested at the entry points. All dogs, however well trained, are a potential threat to livestock as their inherent instincts can over-ride any controls. If this was more fully and widely appreciated then undoubtedly we could avoid such tragic incidents occurring in future”.
Under the Dogs (Jersey) Law 1961, it is an offence for dogs to chase or worry livestock or to not be under proper control. Anyone in breach of the law is liable to a fine of up to £1,000.
The (Guernsey) Conservation Herd have been invited to graze L’Ancresse Common and were moved to the common on Sunday 2nd April.
La Société Conservation Herd were invited to graze the Common by Vale Commons Council as a trial to re-introduce grazing. This initiative has been set up under its new management regime which aims to protect the area as an important recreational and cultural site whilst also enhancing the internationally important grasslands.
L’Ancresse Common was historically grazed by inhabitants of Braye du Valle, who have rights to graze their animals there. As fewer households kept their own cows and it became less economically viable for dairy farms to graze theirs on the common, the number of grazing animals there reduced. Today, no inhabitants exercise their right to graze.
This loss of grazing has had a significant impact on the ecology of the common – the grassland has become tall and rank and areas have become established by gorse and brambles. The delicate wildflowers which require short, grazed grassland no longer have access to light and so are being lost from the common. This, in turn, leads to a loss of the insects, small mammals, bats and birds which rely on them.
La Société Conservation Herd
The Conservation Herd is a herd of eight Guernsey steers whose job is to manage grasslands to protect and enhance their diversity. La Société was approached by VCC to graze the common for several weeks, starting from April 2nd. This initiative is a trial of a longer-termed project which aims to see more grazing animals return to the common.
Julia Henney, the Conservation Herd’s manager, said, “We were delighted to be approached by VCC and asked to graze L’Ancresse Common. It is a vitally important site for Guernsey’s biodiversity and we hope that re-introducing grazing will help preserve it for many years to come. We have experience grazing common land, with the introduction of Operation Skylark at Port Soif Common. The local community offered so much support and the herd were well received and accepted onto Port Soif Common and we hope to replicate this success at L’Ancresse.”
Peter Blake, President of the Vales Commons Council said “Myself and my committee wish you and the herd a great stay on the Common and hope that this will encourage more of the inhabitants to do the same.”
The Conservation Herd will be grazing within electric fencing for several weeks around The Doyle area and will be checked daily by the team which cares for them. La Société and the Vale Commons Council would welcome assistance from regular dog walkers and people who walk or exercise around L’Ancresse. ‘Watchers’ are sought to keep an eye on the cattle when they’re passing and report any problems or concerns to the Conservation Herd team.
Temporary signs are placed around the site to explain the project and give information on who to contact in the event of an emergency.
Anyone who would like more information on the Conservation Herd is welcome to contact Julia Henneyat email@example.com and visit our online map here to track where they are grazing.
This is the very real consequence of not being a responsible dog owner. I’d first like to say thank you, thank you to all the good owners out there, who understand their own animal, and respect others, but even if you think this is you, please read on….
To the culprits, I really don’t know what to say. You may think that this is just a sheep, but I’d say you’re wrong. Her name is Bercail Gallant, she was born on the 7th March lastyear at quarter to two in the afternoon and weighed just 2.9kg. You could hold her in the palm of one hand. I did, I was there. This is a living, breathing creature that gets scared like we do, that has instincts like we do, that feels pain like we do, and that deserves compassion and respect in equal measure to your pet. No animal ever deserves to go through this, and what makes it so difficult to swallow is that there is absolutely no need for it.
It would be easier to sleep at night to think this dog owner was an awful malicious person, with a menacing dog. The difficult reality is that all too often these attacks are caused by well-meaning people, who never for a second think their dog would have this in them, but they do. They all do. So, if the video (on Facebook) upsets you, please, please be responsible. Train your dog to have a solid recall, never let them out of your sight, and if you can’t control your dog, use a lead. But if something like this does happen, let the owner know, don’t ever leave the animal suffering. PLEASE.
This happened on Tuesday morning last week in the early hours, sometime before 0800, in the Beauport area. Five sheep in total had various wounds and injuries. Thanks to some outstanding veterinary work, Gallant has a shot of pulling through, it will be a long road, which she doesn’t deserve, but we will give her every chance.
Please don’t forget, these sheep are members of the Birds On The Edge team like us and like the choughs and deserve every bit as much respect as we all do.
You can see a video of Bercail Gallant on The Reserve (Jersey) Facebook page here but be warned this video is graphic and upsetting (and some of the comments are ‘colourful’!).