The importance of the south-west headlands at Noirmont and Portelet is related to its size and position linking other sites in the south-west of the Island. A mosaic of habitats is created in which bird species can move from one to the other should habitat conditions change for the worse. Some habitats found on this site have special protection under EU laws, such as the Atlantic dry maritime heathland and its maritime heath, cliff and slope. The short-turf grassland is one of the most species diverse grasslands in Jersey, and many animals and plants found in Portelet Common have limited distribution elsewhere in both the Island and in the UK.
The south-west headlands are significant for local birds throughout the year as the area supports multiple habitats which meet the needs of many resident coastland species, passing migrants and may well support red-billed chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocrax in future. There is plenty of heathland on the Portlet side ideal for the smaller heathland birds with scrub and cliffs suitable for nesting and grassland, notably in the many fields further inland that are kept for grazing horses and other livestock. These fields may provide suitable ground for chough to probe for invertebrates. However, it may be more beneficial to convert some of these fields back into crops at certain times of the year for cereal or weedy crops.
Noirmont is well known locally as one of the best spots in the Channel Islands to observe visible bird migration in autumn.
Historically this land was used as grazing ground for sheep, cattle, goats, ponies and horses. The tenants had the right to collect bracken and gorse for animal bedding and fuel. The loss of these practices has resulted in a decline in habitat quality which the site’s management plan aims to reverse.
– Size: 34.5ha
– Main habitat types: Freshwater pond (seasonal), unmanaged bracken, mixed woodland, grassland, scrub heath, managed bracken, species-rich grassland and mature gorse, as well as some long-standing arable fields.
Birds and other wildlife
Important bird species at these sites include European shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis, lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus, long-eared owl Asio otus Dartford warbler Sylvia undata, common whitethroat S. communis, stonechat Saxicola rubecula, jackdaw Corvus monedula and linnet Carduelis cannabina.
Other animals typical of this area are the green lizard Lacerta bilineata, slow worm Anguis fragilis, red squirrel Sciurus vulgaris, rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus, lesser white-toothed shrew Crocidura suaveolens and the bank vole Myodes glareolus.
There are common toad Bufo bufo at the site and there is also a reintroduction programme for agile frog Rana dalmatina. Frog spawn is collected at another site and ‘head-started’ in captivity before small metamorphs are released into clifftop ponds. There is an important variety of plant and invertebrate species, some of them considered rare at a national scale.
There is a lot of bracken Pteridium aquilinum on these headlands especially on the Noirmont side and focus should be placed on removing areas of this fern and encouraging the growth/regeneration of both heathland habitats including dwarf shrubs and coastal grassland. These sites are very popular with visitors and, therefore, may not be the most suitable for some birds unless areas are set aside to allow seclusion.
Future management to consider:-
- Reduction of bracken cover from 25% to 10% and conversion to grassland;
- Return of sheep for grazing;
- Change some of the adjacent grazing fields into weedy/cereal crops for birds;
- Promote re-growth of gorse and scrub thickets
- Re-plant hedgerows to provide field corridors between Noirmont and Portlet
- Increase mature gorse area by at least 2ha so it comprises c. 7% of the site;
- Control other invasive species such as holm oak, Hottentot fig and New Zealand pygmyweed Crassula helmsii.
There is a leaflet detailing walks at Portelet Common