Report on the core area from October 14th 2007 to January 20th 2008

Report on the core area from October 14th 2007 to January 20th 2008

1 Management

i) Grazing

Seasonal grazing continued on Soay Plain, Lamprey’s Block & Fox Slack until Nov 16th when the 35 Red Devon cows and 15 calves were removed. On the Flats, east of the American Road, grazing ceased on December 6th when the 130 sheep plus their lambs were removed. Scrub and coarse grass has been mown in all of these areas.

ii) Biosphere Volunteers Conservation Tasks

Tasks with the regular Burrows volunteers have taken place on 7 occasions. Work has been mainly clearing litter and maintaining small sample areas within overgrown flower rich areas near Venner’s Pond and in Sandy Lane Copses as these areas are deteriorating & are visited frequently on the guided walks. Five volunteers have helped regularly with tasks such as monitoring the water tables, rabbit counts & recording flora and fauna. In addition, groups from Torridge Training and North Devon College project 'Education to Employment' have worked on the site. These groups have contributed 14 ‘volunteer work days’ to the total of 39 this quarter. Two volunteers from Exeter Drugs Rehabilitation Unit have expressed an interest in tasks but so far have failed to turn up. The practical conservation tasks in conjunction with NDCCS have continued although a beach clean on Dec 2nd was cancelled due to inclement weather. Two tasks have taken place on the Devon Wildlife Trust Reserve at Swanpool, with the latter being a joint task with NDCCS & volunteers from the new ‘Education to Employment’ project at N Devon College who cut and burnt willow scrub.

2 Flora & Fauna

Rare Species 

Dr David Holyoak reported that 2 patches of the reintroduced rare moss Bryum warneum have increased significantly and that Petalwort is colonising new areas in the excavated scrapes – he considers that the scrapes are working very well for these primary habitat rare species including the Amber Sand-bowl snail. Dr Nick Stewart has recorded aquatic plants on the Burrows since 1995 and the site has been identified as a site of international importance for Stoneworts with the younger ponds providing the most suitable habitat for this group. 


A plant survey on Oct 19th found that 42 species were still in flower - a higher number than usual at this time of year. A moth trapping session on Oct 27th near Venner’s Pond produced 12 species.

3 Research & Monitoring

Water Tables

The monthly water table readings in 18 sites on the Burrows and rainfall readings at the White House were continued. Between October 2nd and December 1st, 14 dip wells fell by an average of 14cm and although 4 rose by an average of 18cm the overall average fall was 5cm with the combined rainfall for October & November being low at 1220ml. December rainfall was heavier at 1210ml and has caused 12 dip wells to rise by an average of 22cm & although 5 had surprisingly fallen by an average of 17cm the overall average rise was 11cm. 

Rabbit Counts

Nine rabbit counts have been carried out with 4 in the Training Area varying between 570 and 750, giving an average of 647 and 5 in the grazing trial area varying between 97 and 162. None of the counts show a significant change in numbers. 

4 Undesirable Activities

In November vandals in Sandy Lane car park used fireworks and damaged a dog bin and dustbin. The conditions regarding dog mess around Sandy Lane car park has been significantly cleaner this autumn with the additional bins in place, although many piles of dog faeces are still not being cleared up by dog owners. On January 12th the car park was closed due to a dispute with the planning authority and the 5 dog bins were removed and since dog owners have once again been leaving bags of dog mess around the car park area and bin sites. 

Requests have been made for dog bins to be provided in Broadsands car park as comparisons between the recently improved conditions at Sandy Lane have been made with the dirty state of the area around Broadsands car park & Crow where numerous piles of loose and bagged dog poo remain abandoned. Incidents of vehicle trespass on Crow and Broadsands beach have been reduced as the barrier at the White House slipway has been closed but not locked

5 Publicity

Handouts and posters advertising the public meeting were produced and circulated at various local venues. 

Braunton Burrows display boards were manned at Katie James' introduction to the 'Explore Braunton Project' in Braunton Parish Hall on Oct. 17th, the opening of the new visitor centre at the Calvert Trust, Wistlandpound on Nov. 4th and at the annual public meeting on Nov 27th. New interpretive boards are being prepared for the 3 Burrows car parks, for which information and images are being provided. 

6 Events

This years annual public meeting was held in the morning of Nov 27th in Braunton Parish Hall where presentations were again given by MoD, Natural England and the education warden who reported on events & issues on the Burrows during the previous 12 months – this was followed by a time for questions. Katie James also introduced the 'Explore Braunton Project'. 

7 Educational Groups

Table 1 Summary of all Guided Visitor Groups 

Braunton Burrows Walks No. of groups No. of visitors Average per group

1 Public Walks 24 427 18

2 School & Other Groups 23 428 19

3 Specialist Visitors 15 127 8

4 Walk to Health 2 27 13

5 Totals of Braunton Burrows walks 64 1009 17

Buffer zone walks 

6 Walk to Health – Braunton village 17 63 4

7 Public Walks - Buffer Zone 5 43 9

8 Total - walks in buffer zone 22 106 5

Totals - all walks 86 1115 13

A full report on the 2007 walks season has been compiled. The programme of guided walks and other events for 2008 is being prepared, however its implementation depends on the re-opening of Sandy Lane car park, as 90% of the walks planned start from here.

8 Talks

The last two of the series of weekly evening talks on the N Devon Coast & Bats and Dormice respectively took place at Braunton Countryside Centre on October 19th and 26th with a total of 68 people attending. 4 illustrated talks on aspects of Braunton Burrows and the wider Biosphere Reserve have been given to: North Devon BT & Postal Workers Pensioners at Fremington, Devon Moth Group at Crediton, Braunton Probus Club and Barnstaple Probus Club. 

9 Other Projects

Two N. Devon College foundation degree students are, as part of their work based learning module, producing digital images from slides of archive material and key species of flora & fauna provided by the education warden. From this they will produce presentations and packs for schools. 

Information has been provided to Ian Parkin who is carrying out a feasibility study for a new interpretive centre on the old gas distribution premises on Sandy Lane.

J M Breeds, 

Braunton Burrows Education Warden