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Upper Fal Estuary (Truro)

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This is one of the finest natural harbours in the world, and has served as a refuge for shipping for thousands of years. A drowned river, it now consists of a deep tidal basin opening into Falmouth Bay fed by numerous rivers and creeks. The estuary is tid

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      22.01.2002 03:58
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      Last year I visited Cornwall again and I wanted to visit place that did not cost too much money. The Hotel's manager suggested the 'Upper Fal Estuary'. It is a lovely place to visit if you love wildlife and watching migrant birds. I went in August and the place was teaming with animals, but there were not many visitors. There are miles of unspoilt countryside to explore around the 'Upper Fal Estuary'. So why not pay it a visit and leave the car at home for the day. Just do not forget to pack the binoculars and of course a bottle of local Cider, Pasties and of course Saffron buns! *Important* 'Upper Fal Estuary' is only open at certain times so you need to contact "Trust" before visiting. The local Tourist Information Centre at Truro can supply more details. (Details below) **What is the 'Upper Fal Estuary'** The 'Upper Fal Estuary' is a vast area of wetland at the margins of the land and sea. It is a site of great national wildlife conservation importance. There are many beautiful creeks surrounded rolling hills that were formed by the end of the last Ice Age (around ten thousand years ago) at the 'Upper Fal Estuary'. The melting of the glaciers caused sea levels to rise, thus the valleys were flooded to create the creeks and inlets as seen today. The amalgamation of fresh water with salt water produces a montage of habitats that include the wide-ranging tidal mudflats and salt marshes, which have developed in the sheltered creeks; along the margins there is a dense scrub and extensive woodland. The total area of this Site of Special Scientific Interest is two hundred and sixty three hectares, of which the Trust manages just forty-one hectares. The managed area of the 'Upper Fal Estuary' is maintained by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and is leased from the National Trust. It is also partly funded through English Nature's Reserves Enhancement Scheme. The Cecil Stevens Memorial Hide was erected with the support of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, the Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. **Species of Interest at 'Upper Fal Estuary' ** The mudflats are an important part of the life within the reserve and are mostly composed of white china clay waste brought down by the river from the spoil heaps near St Austell. Crustaceans, invertebrate animals, notably molluscs and worms all live in the mud. There is rich source of the estuarine ecosystem. Fish plus many of the important waterfowl that use the estuary as a feeding ground, to feed on the estuarine ecosystem. During the later part of August to March the 'Upper Fal Estuary' is one of the best places to see winter wading birds and other wildfowl. The 'Upper Fal Estuary' is of national importance for the numbers of black-tailed godwit that visit from July to January. Shelduck nest in burrows near to the salt marsh and on adjacent farmland but forage on the mudflats for molluscs and other invertebrates. Other passage or wintering wading birds, which use the estuary at times for feeding and roosting, include curlew, dunlin, golden plover and redshank. The estuary is also important for ducks such as wigeon, teal and mallard. Plants that tolerant salt, dominate salt marsh that has formed at the heads of the sheltered creeks. Common grass-grass and thrift are there in abundance. Other plant species that are present are glasswort, sea beet, sea lavender and wild celery. **Practical Information about 'Upper Fal Estuary'** Access to this nature reserve is restricted; please contact the Trust before visiting. (I would advise you to visit the Truro Tourist Information Centre, to obtain the relevant information). The Trelonk part of the reserve may be seen from lanes around Ruan Lanihorne. The Ardevora sect ion is only accessible by boat. Visitors are asked to consider the wildlife by keeping to the designated footpath. Many of the exposed mudflats are potentially dangerous. Dogs are not allowed at the 'Upper Fal Estuary' due to the sensitive nature of the site and rare species that live there. **Further information** Truro Tourist Information Centre Municipal Buildings Boscawen Street Truro TR1 2NE Tel: 01872 274555 *Ordnance Survey Map* O.S. Landranger 1:50000 Sheet Number 204 - Truro and Falmouth *Guide Books* "Around the Fal" by Bob Acton, Landfall Walks Book Number 3. *Websites* www.wildlifetrust.org.uk Or www.chycor.co.uk

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