Dawlish Warren Beach Management Scheme

There are some big plans ahead for Dawlish Warren. The fear is that a strong southerly storm could cut through the Neck of the Warren and split the sand dunes into two. This will then increase storminess in the estuary and create a heightened flood risk in the village of Dawlish Warren.

This information board at the Warren explains the detail.

dw2Looking across to Exmouth

dw3One of the groynes that needs to be replaced.

dw4This is part of the first phase of the project that was completed a couple of years ago – an internal bund that will hold back the sea during storm surges.

Later in the year a new bund will be built near the Neck made of geotextile bags.

A blue jellyfish at Orcombe Point

A friend of mine sent me this photograph of a large blue jellyfish that had washed up yesterday on the beach near Orcombe Point at Exmouth.

Apparently it is about 2 feet across.

I think it is a Barrel Jellyfish which can be up to 3 feet across and can occur in a variety of colours ranging from white through to blue.

We are quite used to seeing jellyfish on our beaches and in the sea during the summer months and into the autumn but I wonder whether a December record is unusual?

Thanks for the picture and the tip off Caroline.

A Desert Wheatear on Leasfoot Beach

I had heard (via Birdguides) that there was a Desert Wheatear on Leasfoot Beach which adjacent to Thurlestone Golf Course close to the Club House. So I popped down at lunch time yesterday to see it.

It is a very rare vagrant in Britain – the species normally breeds in the dry steppes and semi-deserts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The recent strong easterly winds must have blown it off course and somehow it ended up in Devon. Here are a few photos of the bird – it is a 1st winter male.





The Dalmatian Pelican near Padstow

I went to Padstow yesterday to go and look for the Dalmatian Pelican which has been knocking around in Cornwall (and Devon) since May. It is is the first time this species has ever been recorded in Britain – it normally lives in south eastern Europe.

It is a huge bird – much bigger than a swan

It is quite a scruffy bird – one of its ID features compared to its more common cousin the White Pelican

This flight shot shows the limited black on the secondary wing feathers – White Pelicans have much denser black secondaries

The Camel Estuary where it has been living for the last month or so

The Dalmatian Pelican was originally seen on the Land’s End peninsula where it stayed for a few weeks before it went to the the Helford. It has also been to Devon on the Torridge near Barnstaple.

It was a six mile round trip walk to see the bird along the Camel trail from Padstow towards Wadebridge and I was also able to try out my new ‘Scopac’ – a rucksack type of devise with enables me to carry my tripod / telescope on my back – brilliant – should have got one years ago

In celebration afterwards I had a pint of  Proper Job and a Rick Stein take-away fish and chips (after all I was in Padstow) – it may have been expensive (£8.20 for the F & C) but it was the best fish and chips I have ever eaten.

The writing is on the wall for farm subsidies except in the Uplands

There was an interesting piece in the Daily Telegraph yesterday about the future of farm subsidies ‘Billions of farming subsidies could be diverted to the NHS after Brexit

George Freeman MP, who chairs Thesesa May’s policy unit was speaking to the Social Market Foundation at a Conservation Party Conference fringe meeting.

Here are a few of the things he is reported to have said

“in no sector is the shake out from Brexit going to be more profound and there is a lot of negotiating to do”. (Talking about agriculture)

“We are going to end up supporting bits of farming that clearly would not work without some support. 

“I just think the British electorate would say ‘hang on a minute, we understand why marginal hill farmers, and people who could not exist without support, need some helpBut they may have a problem with ‘you mean we have to write a big cheque every year that we used to turn a blind eye to when it was Europe, but now it has got HMG on it’.


I suspect hill farmers will take some comfort from this, however many others will now be deeply worried. If such an approach is fully implemented it could have unintended consequences.

There is a great deal of different between the Pillar 1 subsidies (Basic Payment Scheme) which account for 75% of the £3B of subsidies (Greenpeace recently published a list of who got what in Pillar 1 funding which caused quite a sir – see here) and the Pillar 2 monies (Higher Level / Countryside Stewardship) which promote positive conservation management.

Of this Pillar 2 money going to farmers and other land managers around 25% goes to the uplands and 75% is spent promoting positive management on important sites in the lowlands.

Many of these farmers in the lowlands are profitable but the Higher Level / Countryside Stewardship monies helps them manage their ‘wildlife sites’. You have to wonder what will happen to those sites if they lose that money for doing good thing.

A trip to Lansallos

I gave a talk yesterday to the National Trust Rangers in Cornwall on the State of Nature, how we got there and what we need to do going forwards. People seemed pleased with my talk! Afterwards I went for a walk down to the quiet and isolated beach of Lansallos. Here are a few pictures.




Well worth a visit if you can handle the tricky navigation and incredibly narrow roads ……

Trevose Head acquired by the National Trust along with a very personal story

Environmentalists and conservationists haven’t had much to be pleased about in the last few weeks but at last some really good news has been announced. The National Trust has managed to acquire 220 acres of Trevose Head on the north Cornwall coast near to Padstow.

Trevose Head
By Franzfoto [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)  via Wikimedia Commons

Trevose Head Lighthouse
By Herry Lawford f[CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The National Trust has acquired the site for over £3m and are now aiming to raise £250,000 as an endowment to ensure its future management. The story featured in the Guardian this morning – see here.

This is an area of Cornwall I know very well, for around a decade my family used to holiday in the area, camping at Treyarnon and Harlyn. We used to walk Trevose Head where I used to see Corn Buntings on the farmland and dolphins and seals around the coast.

Six years ago my wife Francesca Smart died suddenly and tragically of a brain haemorrhage. She was head of the Sixth Form at the Maynard School and was a very popular person. Over 750 people attended her funeral which was held in Exeter Cathedral. After her death we set up a little Trust Fund to raise money to support environmental and education projects in the south west.

Many of her friends and mine did sponsored events to raise money. I remember well some of the teachers at the Maynard School did a mini 10 Tors event (Cesca helped the Maynard girls train for 10 Tors), Exeter Triathlon Club raised funds at their Exe Valley Triathlon and some of us ran the Great West Run and the Plymouth Half Marathon. We raised a little over £8000. This money has been split three ways

  • A third to the Maynard to support conservation / environmental projects at the School
  • A third to the Devon Wildlife Trust to support wildlife awareness projects in Exeter
  • A third to the National Trust for wildlife conservation projects in North Cornwall

I am delighted to be about to say that the National Trust money has been allocated to the Trevose Head Appeal

Cesca and I on the Lizard Peninsula in 2007

I am as certain as I can be that she would entirely approve of this.

You can support the appeal by clicking here.



7 coastal questions – Coastal Festival

This year The National Trust are celebrating 50 years of caring for the coast with the Coastal Festival. We’ve been collecting stories from many people who love the coast.

Take part now with 7 questions tag – coast facts. Post with answers on your blog or facebook page and then tag 7 friends or bloggers. Here are my seven answers.

1. What’s your favourite beach? Crackington Haven: My Uncle Bill and Auntie Vera used to farm at Crackington Haven and tenanted some National Trust land near by. I used to spend all my summer holidays there – helping on the farm, learning to surf and messing about on the beach. Bill and Vera have now retired but I still go to Crackington to see them – lots of happy memories.

Crackington 1High tide at Crackington on a wild day (owned by the National Trust)

Sea or sand? Sea: I love the sea and many of my ‘hobbies’ are associated with it – gig rowing, surfing, body boarding, paddle boarding and swimming – I’m not one for lounging around on the beach…..

Exmouth 2Exmouth Gig Club rowing in the Exe Estuary in Rodney Bey

Tell a memory of being by the sea. The Northumberland Coast. Had an amazing holiday with Caroline a couple of years ago along the Northumberland coast – a total revelation! Here is Lindisfarne Castle – again National Trust – renovated by Edwin Lutyens – so a great connection too back to Dartmoor and Castle Drogo.

Lindisfarne 7Lindisfarne Castle

Puffins 4Puffins on the Farne Islands – perhaps the National Trust’s most amazing wildlife spectacle

What’s your favourite seaside food? Megrim – a rather funny looking flatfish but quintessentially Cornwall – always look for them on the menu when I am on holiday there.

A_large_megrimMegrim (via Wikimedia Commons)

Favourite ice cream flavour? Strawberry – but then again I don’t eat too many ices creams ……

Strawberries and cream

Have you lived by the sea? I live in Exton on the Exe Estuary and it is just a 20 minute cycle down to Exmouth – lucky me


Favourite place on the coast? The Isles of Scilly – been there dozens of times and never tire of it – when I win the Lottery …

St Agnes 1This is the tombolo (sand bar) between St Ages and Gugh

Blog post inspired by National Trust South West Coastal Festival & the 7 questions tag post.

I tag 7 people to take part too:  Caroline Muggridge, Ben Atkinson, Miles King, Gillian Johns, AJ Bellamy, Steve Brayshaw, Exmouth Gig Club. Looking forward to your seeing your favourite coast things!