Biodiversity update 2024


Over the last couple of years, with the help of Devon Wildlife Trust and several specialised Devon wildlife groups, we have been actively monitoring biodiversity on the estate and continuing to improve our approach to the management and conservation of this very special patch of rural mid-Devon.

There is always work to do but we are happy to have taken many positive steps over the last few years and are pleased to have three areas on the estate now recognised as County Wildlife Sites, a recognition of the rich biodiversity and wildlife present here.

Here are some findings from surveys that have taken place over the last few years:

Moths

Jenny and Lin from Devon Moth Group have trapped at Fursdon in various locations over the last few summers and recorded a range of different species, including the wonderful Privet Hawk, Dingy Footman, Brussels Lace, August Thorn, Brindled Green, Barred, Yellow, Scorched Wing and many others – all with fabulously inventive names!

2023 – 118 species recorded; 2022 – 67 species recorded; 2021 – 115 species recorded

Bats

Detectors were put out in various locations on the estate in both 2022 and 2023 and revealed the presence of a wide range of bat species, including high numbers of Soprano Pipistrelle, as well as Noctule, Serotine and Leisler’s bats.

Long-eared bats, Myotis bats, Barbastelle and Lesser Horseshoe were recorded in relatively small numbers, as was Devon Wildlife Trust’s key priority species for the Exe catchment area, the Greater Horseshoe Bat. This made several appearances and is believed to be using the site regularly – an exciting bit of news.

Birds

In 2022, a bird survey took place across Fursdon Estate over a period of 12 months, organised by the Chairman of Devon Birds, Nick Armstrong.

Seven bird species including the Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Skylark, Woodlark, Spotted Flycatcher, Marsh Tit and Yellowhammer were identified as priority species for the area and all were encountered except the Woodlark.

A total of 74 species of bird were encountered during this survey and a number of recommendations made with regards future habitat management and enhancement.

We were particularly delighted by the 2023 spotting (and picture!) of a Barn Owl by David Rolls from Devon Wildlife Trust.

Lichens

When oak trees mature the moisture content of the bark slowly decreases and lichens recorded on the trunk are replaced over time by those in a specialist “dry bark community”. A significant percentage of the world’s population occurs in Britain.

A 2023 lichen survey by Devon recorder Nicola Bacciu revealed lichen interest on many of the mature and veteran oaks present in the parkland, including Cresponia Premnea, Zwackhia Prosodea and Lecanographa Lyncea – all lichens featuring the specialist ‘dry bark community’.