Area: 0.47 hectares.
Reasons for Notification:
This site is notified as a lesser horseshoe bat Rhinolophus hipposideros breeding roost and as a hibernaculum for the following bat species, lesser horseshoe R. hipposideros, greater horseshoe Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, brown long-eared Plecotus auritus, pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus and Daubenton's Myotis daubentonii.
The site is located in Coombe Valley, a sheltered wooded river valley about 5 kilometres north of Bode on the north Cornwall coast.
Coombe mill with associated outbuildings is of particular importance as a summer breeding site for lesser horseshoe bats. It is one of the nineteen largest lesser horseshoe bat breeding sites in England (two of which are in Cornwall). Brown long-eared Plecotus auritus, and pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus bats also use the mill as a breeding site.
The mill also provides an important hibernation site for a number of bat species including lesser horseshoe R.. hipposideros, greater horseshoe Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, brown long-eared Plecotus auritus, pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus and Daubenton's Myotis daubentonii.
In addition the mill is used by greater horseshoe bats Rhinolophus ferrumequinum as a pre-breeding roost, by Natterer's Myotis nattereri, Daubenton's Myotis daubentonii, and pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus as a post-breeding site and by greater horseshoe bats as a night roost during the breeding period. The nearby barn is used all through the year by several species of bat and provides a hibernation site for pipistrelle and brown long-eared bats.
Lesser and greater horseshoe bats are two of Britain's rarest bat species. Both species of horseshoe bat are classified as Vulnerable in the draft European Red Data Book for Vertebrates. Although once widespread in Europe both species of horseshoe bat have undergone a severe decline in the northern part of their range. In England the population estimate for lesser horseshoe bat is 7,000 individuals and for greater horseshoe bat about 4,000.In recognition of their rarity and vulnerability both the lesser and greater horseshoe bat are protected under UK and European Union legislation, including Annex II of the European Community Habitats and Species Directive. Both of these species are listed as Priority Species in the UK Government endorsed national Biodiversity Action Plan.
Bats have traditional summer and winter roosts to which they return year after year. It is therefore important to maintain both summer breeding and winter hibernation sites.
The disused mill at Coombe is built on four levels. The connecting staircase and numerous other openings provides bats with easy flight paths between levels. The range of internal temperatures provided by the various levels ensures the availability of optimal bat roost sites all through the year. The mill interior also provides a safe and sheltered space where bats can exercise before emerging to feed and where young bats can practise flying.
In addition to secure breeding and hibernation sites bats also require certain habitat features to facilitate their movements between roosting and foraging areas. The mature trees, woodland/scrub edges, hedges/banks, mill leats and old orchard, which surround the mill and barn, provide safe, sheltered access routes to the main foraging areas in the woodland and pastures of the valleys to the east and north of Coombe.
This is a new site. It lies within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Heritage Coast.
All British bat species are listed in Annex W of the EC Habitats Directive and protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 198 1 (as amended) and Schedule 2 of The Conservation (Natural Habitats andc.) Regulations, 1994 (Regulation 38). In addition, both lesser and greater horseshoe bats are listed I protected under the following legislation; Annex II and Annex W of the EC Habitats and Species Directive 1992, Appendix II of the Bonn Convention (and is included in the Convention's Agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe) and Appendix II of the Bern Convention (also Recommendation 36 on the Conservation of Underground Habitats and Recommendation 43 (1995) on threatened mammals in Europe). The draft European Red Data Book for Vertebrates classifies the lesser horseshoe and greater horseshoe bat as Vulnerable, they are also listed in the Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (1997) and the UK Biodiversity Steering Group Report (1995) Priority Species.