Fauna

Birds. The Long Mynd is generally regarded as the most important habitat in the West Midlands for upland bird species such as merlin, hen harrier, golden plover, raven, kestrel, curlew, skylark and wheatear which can regularly be seen. The valleys with their trees and streams provide breeding and feeding places for numerous birds including buzzards, owls, dippers, whinchat, stonechat and wagtails. Ring Ouzels used to nest on these hills but no sightings have been recorded in recent years. Red Grouse were introduced onto the hill in the 1870s and the hill became managed as a shooting moor. "Shooting Box" on the hill top is where a hut once stood for Victorians and Edwardians to shoot from. Numbers of grouse declined until only 8 pairs were found in 1995. The hill had become overgrazed and the heather was in poor condition. Since then people say that the purple heather on the tops of the hill is a delight to see in summer. Much improved it now supports about 40 pairs of grouse. Other ground nesting birds are struggling but there is now a recovery project in place as well as better management of areas of soft rush for snipe. Curlew have shown a slight increase. Long eared owl and nightjar are recently reported.

The largest mammals present are badgers and foxes. Hares, rabbits and several species of small rodent occur. The heathland is home to caterpillars of moths and butterflies for example, oak eggar, emperor moths, small copper and green hairstreak butterflies. Grayling butterflies were thought to be extinct here but recently we have found several colonies. This is probably because there is much less winter grazing so they can now overwinter better in the long grassy tussocks that were once grazed down. A wide range of beetles some of which are nationally rare are associated with the Long Mynd eg. the Hawthorn Jewel beetle Agrilus sinuatus.

The freshwater life of the stream is quite rich despite the acidity of the water, the paddling and bedload disturbance by study groups and the general public. Bullheads and small Brown Trout are the only fish. Dragonfly, stonefly, mayfly and caddis fly nymphs are found together with freshwater shrimp and limpet. These prove how unpolluted the water is. Our ponds support many species of dragonfly larvae and damselfly nymphs. When these hatch out in the warm weather they are a delight to see. In the ponds there are also sticklebacks, waterboatmen, pondskaters, frogs, toads and the rare and protected Great Crested Newt. A very recent discovery is that we also host some Lesser Horseshoe bats.

Wildlife conservation is largely tied in with vegetation management, maintaining the variety of habitats present e.g. heather moorland, bogs and flushes, acidic grassland and the scrubby tree cover on the valley sides. National Trust is keen to ensure the hill is a sustainable environment for wildlife by conserving or creating biodiversity. Altough the hills look rugged they are quite a fragile environment.

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