South Milton Ley Biodiversity

One of the major shortcomings at South Milton Ley, identified in the last management plan, was the lack of comprehensive, contemporary information on the flora and fauna of the reserve and the complete absence of monitoring both before or after major projects, which may have affected species distributions and diversity. Since 2015, I have made considerable efforts to encourage specialist teams to visit the reserve and the fruits of their collective efforts have been considerable.

Whilst this blog primarily concentrates on bird ringing at SML, Devon Bird’s current lack of an archivist causes me concern that, in the event of my sudden demise or that of my pc, many records could be lost. Consequently, I have sent copies of species lists to Natural England, who oversee the SSSI, and made the decision to post copies on this blog as well.

My own contribution to today’s lists is minor when compared to the efforts of visiting specialists and, whilst I have made every effort not to omit anyone, it was safer to name the parent groups rather than individuals and I apologise in advance if anybody feels overlooked.

In summary, since the current management plan was written in 2015:

The number of plant species identified has increased from 95 to 208 thanks to surveys by John Day.

The number of arachnid species identified within the reserve has increased from 10 to 26, thanks to Geoff Foale from Salcombe. Flies and related insect species have increased from 130 to 514, thanks principally to the efforts of Geoff Foale and members of the Devon Fly Group. Barry Henwood and members of the Devon Moth Group have increased the number of moths from 6 to 174, whilst Dr Martin Luff has increased the number of beetles from 15 to 192.

In terms of vertebrates the number of amphibians and reptiles remains the same at three and four respectively. One additional fish species has been identified, taking the total up to a majestic three and a comprehensive bird list has been compiled with the assistance of Mike Passman, Bob Burridge and Vic Tucker. Only species recorded either within or flying over the reserve have been included and several rarities, shearwaters, divers, auks and waders, recorded either in the bay, on the beach or at South Huish are now omitted. The current avian total stands at 206 species.

Finally, local resident John Ward has recorded fourteen species of bat adjacent to the reserve and Jess Smallcombe and Ellie Knott of the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre have just provided conclusive proof of the presence of both Water Voles and Otters, taking the mammal total up from 22 to 32 species. Species lists for all of these groups can be accessed here: South Milton Ley Species Lists

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