Mining site surveys at Luckett & East Kit Hill

This is another 'Where do I start...?' report on a day spent recording for the East Cornwall Mining History Association. When Caroline Vulliamy first approached us about this, I realised that we would have to call in some expert help. They did not disappoint and we had representatives from Cornwall Mammal Group, Bat Group, Botanical Cornwall and the new Bryological (mosses & liverworts) Group. And as well, experts from our own group covered moths, birds and beetles.

Thank you one and all ~

Woods behind the cottages (JB)

After an introduction from Caroline and a report from Dave on the mammal records picked up from the evening before, we split into two groups with one going up to East Kit Hill and the other exploring the area around the miners' cottages on Luckett Hill. The list of plants noted by Ian B from around the mine at EKHill was longer than expected but the brambles are taking over from the heathy ground and will need clearing in the autumn. In the woods, a mysterious substance proved to be a slime mold and a moth, a Little Thorn, that Sue managed to photograph is quite scarce although may occur as a migrant. One of the oak trees measured 3.80m around the trunk so certainly qualifies as 'notable' and with additional characteristics, may well qualify as a 'veteran'. And I did notice some himalayan balsam springing up near the gateway but I expect that will be removed soon.

A slime mold (SM)      Little Thorn moth (SM)      Oak tree, notable or veteran (JB)

The lunch break gave us an opportunity to see some of the many moths caught the night before; Mary reported a migrant Dark Swordgrass and a Lobster Moth and Orange Footman from EKHill mine and a Pale Mottled Willow and Poplar Grey from the wood behind the miners' cottages. And 77 Cock Chafer beetles....! The spider on Richard's moth trap was, I think, a dark form of the nursery-web spider Pisaura mirabilis.

Lunch and moths (JB)     Poplar Hawk moth (AD)     Fox moth (JB) 

In the afternoon, we walked into the main mine site behind Luckett village. Interesting to see the successional vegetation reclaiming a lot of the site but some areas remain bare except for mosses and lichens and in some ways, this area proved to be the most interesting. Around the sludge beds we found a juvenile grass snake, a glow-worm larva and many green tiger beetles, one of which was held steady by Ian Mc. for the camera to catch some details but his reward was a sharp bite from its impressive jaws! We puzzled over all the holes in the sand~ different sizes but were they made by emerging beetles or by mining bees? Highly mineralised deposits like this often hold interesting mosses and lichens so many small samples were taken home to be scrutinised under a microscope.

A sludge bed (JB)  Surface texture (CV)  Exit hole or nest? (CV)  Juvenile grass-snake (JB)  Glow-worm larva (JB)             Green Tiger beetle (JB) 

Treasures of a different kind were discovered in one of the calciners where the ores were roasted to clarify the metal content. Crystals covered the brick ceilings but proved tricky to photograph well. The presence of copper staining a vivid turquoise colour. Adrian drew our attention to the song of the willow warblers which we found quite hard to distinguish amongst all the other bird song.

One of the calciners (CV)     Bryologists at work (CV)     Crystals in the calciner (JB) 

Full species lists have been sent to Caroline and she is very grateful for all our efforts. These will help towards the creation of a management plan ~ balancing the need to keep sufficient habitat for the variety of wildlife that has managed to establish a hold in this post industrial site with the need to protect and conserve the mine features. 

Green Tiger beetle jaws! (SM)      Wasp Beetle (AD)   

And thank you to our photographers: Adrian Davey (AD); Caroline Vulliamy (CV); Sue Morey (SM); Jen Bousfield (JB).

The species list is not at all comprehensive! To include all the plants and moths would have taken till midnight... And not a single butterfly because of the damp and cloudy conditions.

Cardinal beetle on blue bell (AD)


More crystals (JB)

Species Seen:
Mammals: pipistrelle, bank vole, wood mouse, rabbit, grey squirrel and signs of otter, badger, fox, roe deer. Birds: wren, song thrush, woodpigeon, blackbird, blue tit, blackcap, jackdaw, chiffchaff, goldcrest, dunnock, goldfinch, great tit, willow warbler, swallow, house martin, stock dove, mallard, carrion crow, pheasant, swift, pied wagtail, chaffinch, buzzard, grey wagtail, house sparrow, mistle thrush, siskin, long-tailed tit. And the rest: himalayan balsam, hornet, common carder bee, centipede, dock shield bug, cardinal beetle, green tiger beetle, wasp beetle, glow-worm larva, large black slug (Arion ater), grass snake, humming-bird hawk moth, little thorn moth, green orb spider and nursery-web spider. And there was a micro moth amongst the gorse.