Returning to Beacon Hill

The Ranger team and our volunteers have recently made a return to Beacon Hill, the infamous SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) on the Durham Coast where we spent many hours last winter cutting back a large stand of European Gorse.

The gorse in this case is encroaching on a habitat of higher conservation value (Beacon Hill is made up of magnesian limestone grassland – a nationally scarce habitat which supports a rich variety of wildlife), and because the gorse is over represented and inappropriate for its location, it is necessary to reduce its coverage.

Having done well last year, taking out a reasonably large stretch – we have begun where we left off – this time with plasters at the ready, there will be plenty more thorns for us to get stuck in our fingers!

Kate & our volunteer John enjoying themselves!

Positive signs of improvement on the site are already showing with an abundance of wildlife present on our return.

Despite the recent cold and wet weather, there are plenty of wild flowers clinging on – the majority of them in places where the gorse previously dominated. Field scabious, Common knapweed, Bloody crane’s-bill, Tormentil, Harebell, Self-heal to name a few…

A hoverfly on some Field scabious

It will be great to see the insect life booming here come next Spring. Still, there are little creatures that regularly come and say hello whilst we work away – such as the incredibly camouflaged Common green grasshopper, with the green line on its back finely resembling a blade of grass …

Common green grasshopper

On one occasion we also stumbled across an unusually large Common earthball fungus in the undergrowth, and later the same day a Common toad came out of hiding to investigate the fuss…

The Common toad making itself comfortable

Plenty of bird life often surrounds us while we work too – with the usual nosey Robin a common sight, along with the familiar hovering Kestrel, and every now and again a flush of Grey Partridge pass by, or a Skylark amongst an assembly of warbling others…

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Chris | National Trust

Chris | National Trust

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