Little owls inspire new Portland quarry recording wire

Dorset Echo: VIEW FROM ABOVE: Sam Hamer at King Barrow Quarries VIEW FROM ABOVE: Sam Hamer at King Barrow Quarries

CONSERVATIONISTS have got a bird’s eye view of Portland ’s wildlife thanks to a new recording technique being used at the island’s quarries.

Developed by Dorset Wildlife Trust, a remotely controlled camera on a zipwire is gliding over the habitats and providing landscape-scale data in the ongoing battle against alien species.

Sam Hamer, Portland’s living landscape project officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust, who developed the technique, said: “Portland is such a dynamic landscape and we needed to record the scale of the threat to limestone grassland within that context.

“The little owls that nest in King Barrow had been watching us while we were working, which made me think that we needed a true ‘bird’s eye view’ on what we are trying to achieve. We hope that it will offer an insight into this unique place for people who have never been here before, and it’s a chance for people who know the quarries well to view them in a way they will not have seen them.”

Dorset Wildlife Trust’s ‘Portland’s Living Landscape’ project, supported by Viridor Credits Environmental Fund, is currently restoring around 200 hectares of internationally important limestone grassland. This habitat supports ten UK Biodiversity Action Plan species, including the unique chalk grassland form of the silver studded blue butterfly, which lives nowhere else in the world. The camera can be positioned anywhere in the quarries thanks to the abundance of canyons, valleys and high points.

Mr Hamer added: “We may have put it together in a Heath Robinson way in our back gardens, but this contraption could be the start of a new way of looking at our landscapes up close, which is not only useful for the conservationists but also lets everybody see the progress of work for wildlife.

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