Below is an exploration of some of the key creeks within Feock Parish as well as examples of the species that can be found in these habitats. The images presented below were not taken in the parish, but offer an insight into the species mentioned. All images are sourced from their respective Wikipedia pages.
The steep sides of the tidal creeks are partly wooded with trees overhanging the water, growth curtailed in a straight line indicating the limit of extreme high tide. Modern habitation and agriculture now encroach on the rest of the river frontage. A large expanse of mud is exposed at low tide, attracting wildfowl and waders that probe for food. Further up the shore saltmarsh vegetation clings tenaciously to the firmer ground. Marine wildlife in the largest creek in the parish, Restronguet, is impoverished due to metal contamination, transported by river water from the mines in the Carnon Valley and as far away as the St Day mining area. Interestingly, some species have developed unique adaptations to cope with the high levels of heavy metals in the silt.
Restronguet Creek forms an integral part of the larger Fal Estuary complex, and extends from Restronguet Point in the east to Perran Wharf in the west. The Creek is the tidal part of the Carnon River which then discharges into Carrick Roads.
The site comprises extensive areas of intertidal mudflats together with a larger area of saltmarsh at the head of the creek, a small reedbed and the wooded areas that follow the streams into the Creek. The saltmarsh exhibits good zonation, and the tidal mudflats are particularly important for wintering waders and wildfowl. Fringing estuarine habitats include broadleaved woodland, mixed woodland and localised areas of scrub and bracken. There are also a number of freshwater streams which drain into Restronguet such as at Penpoll and Tallack's Creeks.
Restronguet Creek and the Carnon Valley have an extensive history of mining and activity upstream has resulted in high metal concentrations in surface layers of creek sediments, which has greatly influenced the ecology of the area. One of the effects of the metal contamination is that some species have developed metal tolerant strains, for example certain species of brown seaweed Fucus sp, the bivalve Scrobicularia plana, the gastropod Littorina saxatilis, the barnacle Eminius modestus and the crustacea Carcinus maenas and Gammarus zaddachi and the polychaete spionid Pygospio elegans. The toxicity of the Carnon River water may also explain the absence of some species which are found in other parts of the Fal Estuary.
BAP Priority Habitats: Intertidal Mudflats, Coastal Saltmarsh, Reedbeds
BAP Priority Species: curlew Numenius arquata and herring gull Larus argentatus; records of otter Lutra lutra along the River Kennal.
Other notable species: Nationally Scarce Babington's leek Allium ampeloprasm var. babingtoni has been found at Penpol Creek and Nationally Scarce Cornish moneywort Sibthorpia europaea in the valley woodland north of Tallack's Creek. Badger Meles meles activity has been recorded here (protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992).
A large number of bird species have been recorded at Restronguet Creek and it is a particularly important locality in the Fal Estuary system in terms of total peak counts of waders, wildfowl and gulls. Species recorded here include Red Listed dunlin Calidris alpine and black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa and Amber Listed golden plover Pluvialis apricaria, redshank Tringa tetanus, little egret Egretta garzetta, shelduck Tadorna tadorna and black-headed gull Larus ridibundus. It is also important for mute swan Cygnus olor. In addition, part of the site falls within the South Cornwall Coast Important Bird Area, identified by Birdlife International as important for divers and grebes.
The Lower Fal Estuary
The Lower Fal Estuary site forms an integral part of the larger Fal Estuary complex. It borders Lamouth Creek and Chanals Creek on the eastern banks of the River Fall and lies adjacent to the Upper Fal Estuary and Woods SSSI and Faland Helford SAC. Much of the site is listed as ancient woodland, although this has mostly been replanted.
The site lies within the Trelissick Estate and incorporates the sheltered fringing woodlands on the steep slopes above the estuary and creeks. The majority is mixed broadleaved woodland comprising mature, even-aged stands of beech and oak, with varying amounts of sweet chestnut, sycamore and ash, together with smaller areas of mixed and coniferous woodland. Remnants of semi-natural sessile oak woodland remain in North and South Woods, bordering the Fal.
The site also includes marginal scrub, bracken and grassland, some disused quarries and a series of small streams that drain into the narrow inlets and creeks. Two of Cornwall's Key Bryophyte Sites occur within the site, and it supports a rich invertebrate community and many breeding birds.
BAP Priority Habitats: Upland Oakwood
BAP Priority Species: bryophyte interest includes the moss Ditrichum subulatum. Other records include bastard balm Melittis melissophyllum, 10 BAP moth species, otter Lutra lutra, and brown long-eared bat Plecotus auritus, lesser horseshoe bat Rhinolophus hopposiderus and noctule Nyctalus noctula have all been recorded in or close to the site (fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981)
Other notable species: records of the Nationally Scarce lichen Halicania raisi and Nationally Scarce nit-grass Gastridium ventricosum; invertebrates include the Nationally Notable weevils Acalles ptinoides and Rhopalomesites tardyi, together with many ancient woodland species; extensive badger Meles meles activity recorded in the woodland (protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992).
Thanks to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust