The Wilds of Bodmin

PUBLISHED: 00:16 10 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:52 20 February 2013

Rough Tor bridge over stream

 Kirstie Francis - Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Rough Tor bridge over stream Kirstie Francis - Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Abigail Crosby, Marine Conservation Officer, Cornwall Wildlife Trust explores the diverse nature on her doorstep on Bodmin Moor

Abigail Crosby, Marine Conservation Officer, Cornwall Wildlife Trust explores the diverse nature on her doorstep on Bodmin Moor

My home is on Bodmin Moor. This huge, open space has few trees - just heather, grasses and bogs as far as the eye can see. When stood on a rocky tor, you feel as though you are in the wildest place in the UK. But these moorlands arent wild, they are man-made and created to make room for farmers crops and animals, which graze the heathland to keep the trees from growing back. The endearing moorland ponies and magnificent highland cattle are admired by visitors as they graze the land. But beyond these creatures, lies an entire ecosystem that amazes and captivates me.

My favourite time here is mid-winter. The wind may be piercing and days short, but walking across the heath opens your eyes to the wonderful creatures that exist in such a harsh environment. Below are some of my favourite creatures and places found in this wilderness.

Golden plovers

This endearing bird is a passage migrant and winter visitor to Cornwall. On Bodmin Moor, counts of over 10,000 have been recorded, so the area is listed as an important place for this species. People out walking on the moor will see the golden plovers running in short bursts until disturbed, when they will take flight, staying in tight formations of short rapid wing beats. In the winter months, they can be seen in large groups around the moorland, its brown and gold speckled plumage having been replaced by its winter one of buff and white. Sadly, the golden plover is considered a priority species for conservation in the UK as there seems to be a decreasing trend in numbers.


Having a reputation as a predator and thief, I expected a brute of a mammal before I first saw a weasel but in reality I was faced with creature no longer than 20cm. Many mistake weasels for stoats but the difference to look out for is that stoats have a black tip on their tail. Weasels are adaptable little mammals that live almost anywhere they can find cover and prey like rodents and sometimes birds and their eggs. They must eat every 24 hours to avoid starvation and are active both day and night, so you may be lucky enough to see one shoot out of a hedgerow or run through your garden.


One of my top wildlife experiences to date has to be my first experience of a starling cloud while walking on Bodmin. These birds turned the sky black as the cloud dipped and balled, rolled and fell. British starlings are joined each autumn by many thousands arriving from Northern Europe seeking the milder climes of the UK. Up close, individual birds are just as spectacular. Their plumage sheens with greens and purples and is lightly speckled with tiny white spots.


Polecats are solitary and predominantly nocturnal animals. They are very rare in Cornwall since being targeted by gamekeepers for hundreds of years officially there are no validated records for the wild polecat in Cornwall after 1970. So why include them here? There have been some sightings of some closely-related animals in recent years, the polecat ferret that has the same markings. Polecats may one day be able to colonise Cornwall and are spreading into some English counties by natural re-colonisation from Wales.

The importance of what you see

Having lived here for nearly two years, I have marvelled at the change the natural environment goes through from month to month and I send in records of any sightings to our local record centre to be officially noted. Cornwall Wildlife Trust hosts the Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (ERCCIS), which manages both species and habitat information for the county.When youre out and about, tell ERCCIS what wildlife youve encountered. There is a Wildlife Recording Form on the ERCCIS website you can download, so you know what details you need to record, such as species name, location etc. Then either post the form to ERCCIS, Five Acres, Allet, Truro, TR4 9DE , or submit them online. Visit: for the form.

Great places to walk

Country lanes, footpaths, bridleways and cycle routes thread through Bodmin Moor enable good access for all. Some of my favourite places to walk include:

Rough Tor: One of the most famous landmarks on Bodmin Moor, this Tor is important for its ground-nesting birds, so please keep your dogs on the lead between March and July. Golden plovers flock to its slopes feeding on insects within the heathland.

Delford Bridge: Crossing the picturesque De Lank River, this bridge is a perfect place to stop and wander onto the outer edge of the moor looking out for weasels, ground feeding buzzards and lichens.

Davidstow: The roosting site of the hundreds of thousands of starlings is located near this moorland village. From various view points in this area you can watch the abundant flocks.

To find out more about what to do and where to stay on Bodmin Moor visit:

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