Below is an exploration of some of the key habitats in our parish featuring fields and hedgerows, 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 agricultural land that dominates Feock parish is divided by a network of Cornish hedges. These traditional earth-filled, stone-faced banks, sometimes topped by a row of shrubs and trees, may be thousands of years old, and provide a wealth of habitats for wildlife. Wildflowers such as foxglove, red campion, primrose and violet peep out from amongst the grass and bramble, giving a valuable source of nectar for pollinators, whilst bluebell and ferns take advantage of shade cast by more wooded sections. Nooks and crannies amongst the stones provide homes for reptiles such as common lizard and slow worm and small mammals such as the bank vole. Birds and bats feed on the abundant insect life the hedges support.
Helstone Water Wood
Helstone Water Wood is a long, narrow site running along a tributary valley of the Carnon River. Most of the northern half of the site comprises wet woodland dominated by grey willow, with some sessile oak woodland and a small area of hazel coppice in the north eastern arm. The woodland generally supports abundant epiphytic growth and a rich ground flora, especially in the damper areas near the stream. There are also areas of marginal scrub and bracken, and some fen habitat in the central part of the site. Broadleaved woodland extends to the south and there are also several native species-rich hedgerows.
BAP Priority Habitats: Wet Woodland, Lowland Fens, Hedgerows, Upland Oakwood (probably the priority habitat)
Grey Willow Flower
Sessile Oak Acorns
The Carnon Valley has a long history of tin streaming, dating back to the Bronze Age and continuing into the 20th century, after which the site was acquired by the Environment Agency for development of processes to treat contaminated mine water from the disused Wheal Jane Mine nearby.
Despite being subject to much disturbance and the accumulation of high levels of heavy metals, natural re-colonisation of vegetation has taken place, aided in part by some re-seeding and tree-planting, and when the Environment Agency decommissioned the treatment plant in 2008 work was undertaken to create wetlands and additional wildlife habitats.
A complex mosaic of habitats has developed dominated by heathland, scrub, pioneer communities and bare ground, with smaller areas of woodland, reedbed, Calaminarian grassland, numerous ponds and the Carnon River running along the western boundary. The site supports a Nationally important assemblage of bryophytes associated with metalliferous ground and Sand Cottage Pools are recognised as a Key Site for dragonflies and damselflies. The area also provides important habitat for other invertebrates as well as reptiles, amphibians, mammals, birds and flowering plants, including many rare and scarce species.
BAP Priority Habitats: Lowland Heathland (4ha); Calaminarian Grassland (4.2ha); Lowland Heathland/Calaminarian Grassland mosaic (ha); Open Mosaic Habitats on Previously Developed Land (4.5ha); Local Ponds (ha)
BAP Priority Species: include greater copperwort Cephaloziella nicholsonii and lobed threadwort Cephaloziella integerrima; grayling Hipparchia semele, small heath Coenonympha pamphilus and silver-studded blue Plebejus argus; common lizard Zootoca vivipara, common toad Bufo bufo and grass snake Natrix natrix; song thrush Turdus philomelos, dunnock Prunella modularis, innet Carduelis cannabina, bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula and house sparrow Passer domesticus; foraging area for greater horseshoe bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum (RDB endangered); noctule Nyctalus noctula (RDB vulnerable) and brown long-eared bat Plecotus auritus (RDB vulnerable); otter Lutra lutra.
Other notable species: bryophytes include Red Data Book species: Cephaloziella nicholsonii, Cephaloziella integerrina and Solenostoma caespiticium; Nationally Rare Cephaloziella integerrima and Solenostoma caespiticium; Nationally Scarce Cephaloziella stellulifera, Cephaloziella nicholsonii, Pohlia andalusica and Pohlia flexuosa. Flowering plants include Chaffweed Anagallis minima "Near Threatened" and Vulnerable' Lesser snapdragon Misopates orontium and Corn spurrey Spergula arvensis. Records of 5 species of Odonata including Nationally Scarce scarce blue-tailed damselfly ischnura pumilio (a key site indicator) and small red damselfly Ceriagrion tenelum and two species of County importance, black-tailed skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum and keeled skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens.
Silver-studded blue butterfly
Lower Carnon Valley
The Lower Carnon Valley site forms an integral part of the Fal Estuary complex and consists of a long shallow open water pool with areas of reed at both ends. Its borders consist of brambles and bracken along the roadside and gorse and an embankment separates the site from a former tin mining area.
There are no BAP Priority habitats present but this wetland site is designated a Key Odonata Site, of county importance for dragonflies and damselflies. 5 species of Odonata have been recorded here since 1990, including the Locally Scarce black-tailed skimmer Orthetrum cancellaturn and most notably the breeding population of the Nationally Scarce scarce blue-tailed damselfly Ischnura pumilio.
Blue-tailed damselfly female (left), male (right)
Produced by The Cornwall Wildlife Trust