The Godborough Castle Reserve is relatively small but well worth a visit if you’re in the North Devon area. (OS 434 273). This reserve was a ‘greenfield site’, established in the late 1990s and it is developing rapidly. The prime aim is to replicate the mixed habitats that would have been found in the area fifty years ago. It has been recognised as a County Wildlife Site.
Devon Birds members and volunteers have planted thousands of trees and berry carrying shrubs to create burgeoning scrub woodland with a spine of relict woodland, including an original Devon Whitebeam. There are pockets of tumble-down grassland that provide feeding grounds for Buzzard and Green Woodpeckers and the full range of grassland butterflies including marbled whites. Peregrine, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk are regular visitors. Relict woodland and hedgebanks support a variety of common bird species,including a full range of warblers. In winter the berry carrying shrubs are a major attraction for fieldfares and redwings. The top of the reserve is the highest point locally and is a good spot to watch for spring and autumn migrants.
A small pond complex has been constructed to provide variety in habitat and a feeding ground for a wide range of dragonflies, damselflies, hirundines and bats. This is backed by two recently completed scrapes. New tree planting has been completed and the emphasis is now switching to routine management of the trees, including regular coppicing of some areas. There remain large areas of sheep-grazed grassland and efforts to improve the diversity of this grassland are continuing. The large south-facing slope is grazed by Exmoor ponies each winter and the encroaching gorse and bramble is slowly being brought under control.
The new scrapes, the provision of long grass and efforts to increase flowers are aimed at winter visiting snipe, jack snipe, meadow pipits and yellowhammers in particular. All four species were common in the valley 30 years ago and are now scarce visitors.
In order to improve the accessibility of the site a network of paths has been created over the last few years. However, the site remains one of narrow woodland paths with some steep gradients and care is needed when walking the paths. A sketch plan showing the paths can be obtained from Philip Marlow (email@example.com).
The site is managed by local members and there is an active working group who are on site most Tuesday mornings and always welcome newcomers.
In view of the regular presence of livestock and the desire to increase ground nesting species, dogs are not allowed on the reserve under any circumstances.
There is ample parking space at the entrance to the reserve (but please do not obstruct the gateway, the reserve is a ‘working farm’ and access for tractors is needed at all times). There is additional space for cars on the roadside.