As Spring starts to bloom, it has been wonderful to collaborate on the installation of new homes for birds and bats on the banks of the river Fal.

We have collaborated with Friends of the Fal and bat conservation groups to determine the siting of bird and bat boxes along the river near Grampound.

The team meet on site to see the boxes installed


Our Communications Manager Josie Purcell said: “It all came about following our successful Homing in on Rivers fundraising campaign with the Big Give’s Green Match Fund in 2022

“This saw us raise over £5,000 through public donations, and match funding from The Aim Foundation, to support wildlife along our riverbanks.

“WRT has been restoring and protecting the region’s freshwater environments for 30 years, with much of its work delivered through funding with specific requirements such as location and intervention type.

“Unrestricted donations help us to fund our self-initiated education, community, citizen science and creative activities, while bolstering research to support river health and biodiversity where appropriate.”


Patrick and Katy assist with the installation process

On this occasion, as the trust’s Operations Team had worked with Friends of the Fal previously to clear the riparian corridor of invasive plants and introduce shade management techniques to encourage a greater diversity of flora and fauna along the river, they knew the area would be ideal as a location for various habitat improvements.

In addition to the bird and bat boxes, the funding has purchased cameras to monitor, in future, otters along the riverbank.

Friends of the Fal, set up in 2020 in response to the pandemic, is an inclusive, educational, and accessible community woodland and river conservation scheme run by volunteers.

Co-founder Fran Swanson explained that the area had been neglected for years.

“As we open up the space by clearing invasive species such as Rhododendron and plant native trees and wildflowers instead, we’re hopeful we’ll see more birds like the kingfisher and dippers who love to fly unhindered above the water.”

Along with nurturing nature, the group has installed a children’s play area on its site, named Gwydhenn Avon by local school children which is Cornish for River Tree, and runs a Green Gym for social inclusion through practical, horticultural activities.

With permission, assistance and cooperation from the landowners Trewithen Estate, the group is developing the project over the next seven years.


George prepares to install a bird box

George Harvey, Operations Senior Team Leader at WRT, who took to the ropes to install the boxes, assisted by project officer Katy Day and Operations Team Leader Patrick Waters, said:

“Our rivers’ ecosystems are dependent on myriad factors; being able to play a role in small or large improvements that encourage healthy river biodiversity is personally and professionally satisfying.

“Co-creating with community groups, ecologists, and bat experts has been an asset in bringing this to fruition.”

Ecologist and representative of Cornwall Bat Group Charlotte Mason is one of the people providing advice.

“This project has been a wonderful way to promote conservation and create long term homes for those species experiencing habitat loss.

“Riverside habitats are favoured by bats, and with woodland, scrub, and grazed pasture nearby I don’t think it will be long until we have our first residents.

“We could see a variety of crevice-dwelling bats, such as the brown long-eared and pipistrelle species, move in.

“Bats are a valuable part of our ecosystem that are under increasing pressure, and they deserve all the help we can give them.

“It was a pleasure to work with so many passionate people on this project and I would urge anyone interested in wildlife conservation to get involved and support organisations like Cornwall Bat Group, Friends of the Fal and Westcountry Rivers Trust.”

WRT were also joined by Sarah Roberson, co-founder of Friends of the Fal; Ryan White, Assistant Natural Environment Advisor from Cormac who is working towards gaining his bat licence; and Jake Field and Claire Bettridge from Cornwall Bat Group and Padstow Bat Detectives on the installation day.

How to help

Josie concluded: “It has been amazing to see how this funding is giving nature a boost while supporting a community-minded project.

“As a part of our 30th year, our next Big Give Green Match Fund campaign Westcountry Artivists to Enhance Rivers will go live from 18 to 25 April.

“As every £ will be doubled up to our target, it will be wonderful if people can donate to our participatory photography project to creatively connect people with freshwater environments.”

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