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Our work at Cape Cornwall

A view of the coastline, sea and distinctive hump of Cape Cornwall along the Tin Coast, Cornwall
The distinctive hump of Cape Cornwall, along the Tin Coast | © National Trust Images / John Miller

There’s been a serious decline in wildflower meadows in the UK, with approximately 97 per cent of meadows thought to have been lost since the 1930s. At Cape Cornwall, and in other parts of West Cornwall, we’ve introduced recognised sections of land to play our part in reversing this decline. We also care for bluebells to help wildlife.

Cape Cornwall's meadows

In 2016, the West Cornwall countryside team started to manage fields at Cape Cornwall as hay meadows, for the benefit of wildlife.

Year on year the meadow is becoming richer in wild flowers, the ideal habitat for a range of invertebrates such as butterflies and bees. In turn, these support birds and small mammals.

Wildflowers in June at Godolphin, Cornwall
See wildflowers at Cape Cornwall | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Managing the meadows

Part of the management plan is to leave the fields to grow untouched through the spring and summer, cutting the fields for hay in late August or early September. This way, the flowers and their food source can be around for longer and to enable them to successfully set their seed for future years.

At the time of cutting, we also scatter green hay from nearby fields to introduce the seeds of additional flower species, which increases the overall floral diversity.

Protecting rare bees

The fields were visited by a bee expert in September 2017 and six rare species of solitary bee were recorded: buff-tailed mining bee, black mining bee, Perkin’s mining bee, brown-banded carder bee, black-headed mining bee and the hawksbeard mining bee.

These were joined by the long-horned bee, which has only been recorded at seven other locations in the UK.

Making Cape Cornwall home

All these species live for just five or six weeks and only fly in good weather conditions during the summer, so they have a very limited time to find nearby pollen and nectar to be able to reproduce successfully. Fortunately, it appears that they have found a safe haven at Cape Cornwall.

A close up of a small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly sat on a bluebell
A pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly on a bluebell | © National Trust Images / Ross Hoddinott

Helping bluebells to thrive

Great swathes of bluebells along the Tin Coast benefit from winter scrub clearance carried out by the countryside team.

Cutting and clearing areas of scrub such as gorse, bramble and blackthorn opens the ground, making space for the bluebells lying dormant to poke up through the undergrowth.

Bluebells' impact on wildlife

It’s not only us humans that love seeing the bluebells – they’re enjoyed by many insects too. As one of the first plants to flower of the year, bluebells are visited by bees, butterflies, hoverflies and a number of other insects all busy collecting nectar.

Three people walking uphill with the sea in the background


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