Charity to attend Kilkhampton Village Fete and offer Guided Walk of Kilkhampton Common

Photo of Kilkhampton Common where a guided walk will take place run by Westland Countryside Stewards

Spring has certainly sprung and as summer approaches the common is alive with wildlife and the trees are once again in leaf. It’s an enjoyable place to visit at any time of year but when everything is flourishing and the weather is fine, the common is a natural haven to escape to. If you need any more reason to visit, be sure to take a camera as ‘Kilkhampton Common’ is the theme for this year’s photo competition at the Kilk Fete, which takes place on 1st July and the charity will be attending. We will also be running two guided walks of Kilkhampton Common during June.

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Spring Water Vole Survey – volunteer and learn more about the life and habitat of ‘Ratty’

We are happy to announce that we will be running our Spring water vole field sign survey in the Bude catchment and invite you to volunteer. Surveying will run on Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd May from 9 am to 4 pm. The canal and river banks will be walked and the vegetation will be searched for field signs such as burrows, feeding stations, latrines, and runs. Please contact us if you’re interested in volunteering, or require more details.

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Event: Autumn Water Vole Survey at Bude

Photograph of a water vole

We are happy to announce that we will be running our Autumn water vole field sign survey in the Bude catchment and invite you to volunteer. Surveying will run from Monday 24th to Wednesday 26th October from 9am till 4pm. You can come and join in for any length of time.

The canal and riverbanks will be walked and the vegetation will be searched for field signs such as burrows, feeding stations, latrines and runs. Please contact us if you’re interested to volunteer or require more details.

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Notice of evening presentations by Dr Xavier Lambin regarding his work on the Scottish Mink Initiative

Notice of evening presentations on the 11th and 12th of May 2016 by Dr Xavier Lambin of Aberdeen University regarding his work on the Scottish Mink Initiative (SMI) – the largest eradication project for North American Mink in Europe. 

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Event: Spring Water Vole Survey

We are happy to announce that we will be running our Spring water vole field sign survey in the Bude catchment and invite you to volunteer. Surveying will run on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th April from 9am till 4pm. The canal and riverbanks will be walked and the vegetation will be searched for field signs such as burrows, feeding stations, latrines and runs. Please contact us if you’re interested to volunteer or require more details.

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Lambing on Kilkhampton Common

We would like to inform the local community that Westland Barton are currently lambing their Castlemilk Moorit ewes on the Kilkhampton Common. The first few lambs have been born and are doing well. As with all breeds having a lamb to protect can be a stressful time, but more so with the Castlemilk as they are a more primitive breed and easily disturbed. We would appreciate it if dogs and noise can be controlled or kept to a minimum during this time.

Castlemilk ram lamb
Castlemilk ram lamb

Spring 2016 on Kilkhampton Common

A peacock butterfly on daffodil
A peacock butterfly on daffodil

After the cold winter, the Common is starting to show signs of spring. The first butterfly surveys have been completed showing small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) and peacock (Aglais io) butterflies have already started to emerge. Within the next couple of months, the Common will be covered with butterflies and surveying them starts to get more difficult!

Frogspawn can also be seen in all three ponds on the Common. Although, due to the frost that occurred, a lot has become clouded with frostbite and unlikely to survive. Hopefully the frogs will be back to spawn more! More pond dipping will hopefully be arranged when tadpoles are thriving to allow an understanding of the different life stages of the frogs.

Grass snakes have been spotted on the common, bathing in the sun already. Adders are likely to follow, so make sure if dogs are off lead you ensure they are in sight to prevent them getting bitten! Adders have been known to sunbathe on the paths, so if you see one, let us know!

With vegetation die back, it can be seen that bags of dog mess have been left on the common. Dog mess is an issue we are aware of, both in bags and being left on the paths. If you are a dog walker please can you ensure that you either use the “stick and flick” method if it is on the path, or clean it up using a bag and take it off the site to dispose of.

After a very rough winter, you may notice that we have had some trees that fell and the stone wall collapsed. When the wall collapsed, it exposed a dormouse nest, a very surprising find for us. This is the first sighting we have had of dormice on the Common. It is well known that dormice are at Kilkhampton Castle, so finding them on the Common too is great news. Once the nest was found, a hunt was on for eaten hazelnuts to locate more dormice. After an afternoon of searching hazelnuts eaten by dormice and bank voles were found. Dormice boxes will hopefully be placed throughout the common to protect the species.

We are hoping to arrange more events on the Common this year, as well as a couple of fundraising events to ensure we are able to continue managing the land for the benefit of the locals.

If you want to get involved in any events or volunteering, check for updates and upcoming events. Or get in touch, we would love to hear from you!

See you on The Common!

2015 Vita Bee Health Initiative Award Winners

Bees entering their hive

It was exciting news to hear that the Devon Apicultural Research Group (DARG) was recently awarded the Pinnacle Winner of the first Vita Honeybee Health Initiative Award for research in the Done Laying Queen Survey in 2012. Westland Countryside Stewards played a significant part in supporting the project with a donation of £1000 which investigated honeybee queen fertility. Continue reading “2015 Vita Bee Health Initiative Award Winners”