North Devon Coast

National Landscape

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Ilfracombe Wildlife

Community Environment Fair

In February, the Finding Nature’s Footprints team collaborated with Ilfracombe Museum to run a Community Environment Fair at The Landmark. This was a great opportunity for the people of Ilfracombe to find out what local environmental organisations are up to in the area and how they could get involved. The local orgnaisations that attended were the Friends of Hillsbororugh, Cairn Conservation Carers, Earth Repair Shop, Plastic Free North Devon, The Sea Watch Foundation, North Devon National Trust and Coastwise North Devon, Ilfracombe Museum and the North Devon Coast AONB Finding Nature’s Footprints project. 

Hillsborough Local Nature Reserve

Over this summer we have been carrying out a variety of wildlife surveys on Hillsborough local nature reserve. 


We have set up a reptile survey with 16 reptile refugia plates laid out across the site. These were left to ‘bed in’ then have been checked at certain times throughout the summer following the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s survey methodology. With the help of our nature volunteer, Dylan, we will find out whether any reptiles use Hillsborough. 


In May, local volunteers assessed the woodlands on the east of Hillsborough using the Rapid Rainforest Assessment produced by Plantlife. This assessment looks at what species of tree are present in the canopy and understorey, the age profile of those trees, other habitat features, the presence of lichens and bryophytes, indicator species, ash dieback or non-native species, and the management of the woodland including grazing levels.   

The Hillsborough woodlands are recent regeneration where young sycamore dominates with the occasional ash and elder but with a good mosaic of closed and open canopy.  Some features of veteran trees such as large holes, dead limbs and a small range of lichens and bryophytes are present. However, grazing levels are very low, and there are high levels of ivy on trees.  

We found the woodland at Hillsborough to have a low score of -12 which suggests it the woodland does not support temperate rainforest lichens or bryophytes. More management is required to help it become more beneficial to wildlife through restructuring, adjusting grazing and controlling invasive species.   


In June, 15 volunteers worked together to carry out a wildflower survey using the National Plant Monitoring Scheme methodology. This survey records the percentage cover of the different species within a 5×5 meter square plot as well as the level of grazing and vegetation height. We will go back later in the summer to reassess the two plots to monitor any change.    

The location of the wildflower survey plots on Hillsborough.   

We focused on the west side slope where the Friends of Hillsborough team have cleared away the bracken and scrub to restore the grassland. This has created open ground which has allowed wildflowers to colonise. There were 24 different species found in the two plots including spotted orchid, common dog violet, yellow rattle and common agrimony.   

We will continue to monitor this site to look for changes in the species composition and abundance. Then we will have a better understanding of how best to manage it.   


In July, a team of volunteers walked a survey route around Hillsborough looking for pollinator activity. Ralph showed us the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s Bee Walk methodology he uses to collect data. We recorded the number and species found. Despite it being a very windy and wet day, we saw several species of bee, butterfly, and moth! These included red tailed bumblebees, white or buff tailed bumblebees, honeybees, common carder bees, meadow brown, large white butterfly, and silver y moth.   

There is a great opportunity here to start gathering more data on butterflies in the area and if you would be interested in getting involved, let us know and we can help you get started!   


We have a Wildlife workshop on the Monday 18th September.   

Everyone is welcome to come along, all equipment is provided. To book your free place, go to https://bit.ly/FNFevents.   

We will continue to monitor and survey wildflowers, pollinators, woodland and wildlife on Hillsborough over the next few years.   

If you would like to find out more about surveying Hillsborough, or the Finding Nature’s Footprints project, please email joe.newberry@devon.gov.uk.