Year-long survey set to monitor coast's wildlife.
Byline: Tony Henderson Environment Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
YEA YEA AAAR?LONG wildlife survey will be launched today on one will be launched today on one of the most popular stretchesof the North East coast.
National Trust rangers, Coastal Conservation Group volunteers and conservation organisations are behind the project at The Leas in South Tyneside. The Big Count 2015, is the first time that wildlife along this stretch of coastline will be recorded for a full year.
Wildlife being surveyed will include birds, mammals, moths, dragonflies, butterflies and bees, as well as wild-flowers, grasses and marine life.
Stretching north from Souter lighthouse, The Leas is two and a half miles of magnesian limestone cliffs, wave-cut foreshore and coastal grassland.
The name Lea means an area of farmland allowed to revert back to grassland and coastal rock formations, such as Marsden Rock and Trow Rocks, can be enjoyed from a cliff top walk.
The cliffs are home to a major kittiwake nesting colony.
The Leas was given to the National Trust by South Tyneside Council in Council in T 1987 to ensure that it remains a green lung for local people and visitors . Simon Colvine, National Trust visitor experience manager for Souter Lighthouse and The Leas said: "The survey is something that has never been done before, certainly not along this stretch of coast, and the results will be a valuable resource for the National Trust and local conservation organisations.
"We know people visit The Leas for its beauty, but it's also a wonderful place to experience wildlife, everything from seabirds to wildflowers. "This survey will help us to look after the wildlife along The Leas for future generations."
The Big Count 2015 offers opportunities for people to get closer to nature along The Leas throughout the year, including seashore safaris, seasonal walks, bird ringing, moth traps, cetacean watches, and on the August 30, a 'bioblitz' which will be a race against time to see how many species can be recorded in a 24-hour period.
The first event is the Coastal Conservation Group's bird race on January 4.
"The aim of the game is to count as many species of bird you can in one day. It's free to join in and a great way to experience the coast," said Simon.
nest boxes with cameras around The In spring, the National Trust will also be installing nest boxes with cameras around The Leas so that visitors to Souter Lighthouse can watch kestrels, swallows and pied wagtails as they raise their young.
To keep up to date with what's hap keep up to date with what's hap T -pening at Souter pening at Souter Lighthouse and The Leas, log on to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/souter.
For more information about the bird race, contact Jason Thompson on 07541 212861.
We know people visit The Leas for its beauty, but it's also a wonderful place to experience wildlife, everything from seabirds to wildflowersSimon Colvine
Spot burnet moth on The Leas <B Dougie Holden
Roger Coulam Souter lighthouse on The Leas, which is home to wildlife such as <Bthe visiting snow bunting, inset