Reclaimed by Nature
It is only within the last century or so, since the cultivation ended, that Clifton Backies has taken on a more wild appearance. The lack of artificial fertiliser and weed killer, which are so much a part of modern day farming, has allowed a varied flora and fauna to establish. Clifton Backies incorporates three main habitat types: unimproved pasture, scrub woodland and unimproved hay meadow.
The different areas of vegetation provide suitable habitats for a wide variety of animal, bird and insect life.
The meadows are home to Short-Tailed Vole, and the Bur Dyke provides habitat for Water Voles. Rabbits can be found, although their numbers are less than expected, a likely result of persecution. Reports of other animals include Fox, Weasel, Common Shrew, Hedgehog, Bank Vole, Wood Mouse and Roe Deer have been seen to wander through the site. In the early evening Bats can be seen swooping over the meadows feeding on flying insects. Suitable breeding habitats for the Common Frog and Smooth Newt are provided by seasonal ponds. The Bur Dyke supports a healthy population of the Backie’s only fish species – the Three-Spined Stickleback.
Some of the birds to spot include Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, and there are many more species to see.
Surveys are carried out regularly to determine the status of the plant and animal species present on Clifton Backies, and these will be published on this site. A recent survey has identified 22 species of butterfly on the site, including Speckled Wood, Holly Blue, Small copper, Brown Argus and Marbled White.