Secrets of Berry Head – Nigel Smallbones
Nigel Smallbones shared with Bishopsteignton Probus Club some secrets he discovered as manager of Berry Head Nature Reserve. The phenomenal range of wildlife, coupled with restored remains of Napoleonic forts, beautiful coastal views, and Britain’s “shortest but highest” lighthouse attracts 250 thousand people annually.
Nigel was tempted by cavers to enter one of the many caves and became stuck in a tunnel. He also commented on seeing a potholer exit a tunnel covered with five to six hundred spiders, including many in his hair.
On one Midsummer’s Day, he went for a headland stroll and to his surprise there were twenty naked people and a white-clad priest watching the sun rise.
The headland has a guillemot colony, which under Nigel’s management has expanded from 400 to 1500 birds. Another conservation success is the large colony of endangered Greater Horseshoe Bats.
The limestone quarry was worth millions of pounds for roads and building work, serving as a major source of employment for generations of Brixham families.
Wildlife is prolific. At ground level there are five orchid species and in the sky are sparrowhawks, peregrine falcons and various sea birds such as Fulmars gliding around the headland. On the land there are stoats, rabbits, adders, and foxes, whilst in the sea are dolphins leaping, skimming, and twisting as they play.
Nigel Smallbones (right) is thanked by Club member Roy Heath