Posted by: Sian Musgrave | May 25, 2012

It’s a black day…

at Overton Cliff on the south Gower coast – a site cared for by the Wildlife Trust (see for more info)

Following a call from the fire service this morning, we’ve spent the day at Overton and Longhole Cliffs looking at the damage that fire can do at this time of year.  When we arrived this morning the fire was still going, having been burning since 11 o’clock last night.  It had crept along the top of the cliffs and down the slopes to the bottoms and was working its way back along Longhole Valley.

Fire is very damaging particularly at this time of year.   Birds are nesting and young often aren’t fledged enough to be able to escape something like this – judging by the amount of distress calls around us, there must have been a few that didn’t make it.  The remains of snails, vole and rabbit holes were all exposed, and lizards and a grass snake were slithering out of reach as fast as they could.  Anthills that have been there for 20 or more years are still smouldering away and may reignite if the wind strengthens.  The thin soils on the slopes are now exposed and drying out – any wind will now blow them away leaving more bare rock, and the vegetation will change now that the covering plants have all gone.

It’s thought that this fire was started accidentally by a cigarette end, but any fire or barbeque can quickly get out of hand and have a devastating effect.

So please be careful when you’re out and about, especially in areas with gorse and heather  when the weather is  hot and dry like we’re enjoying at the moment.

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