Size: 36.6 hectares

% of total area of SSSI's: 9.01

Designated features: Heather, Orange Bird's-foot 

General Description

Connected to the east side of St Agnes by the a tombolo, known as ‘The Bar,’ Gugh is a small inhabited island being only 1km long and rising to 34m above sea level at its most northern point on Kittern Hill.  Here, along the high ground you will see maritime ‘waved’ heathland of Heather and Bell heather in a mosaic with both Western and European Gorse.  The lower-lying heathland at the southern end of the island also includes populations of the rare Orange Bird’s-foot and Hairy Bird’s-foot, along with rare lichen species including the ‘Lung’ lichen Lobaria pulmonaria and Golden-hair Lichen (Teloschistes flavicans).  Between the two heathlands and along the coastal edge, maritime grassland is awash with abundant Thrift.  Here the nationally rare Early Meadow-grass can be found, along with uncommon species such as Western Clover and Adder’s-tongue.  The small dunes at the western edge of the bar, support dune grassland species including Portland Spurge, Wild Thyme and Common Stork’s-bill.  Centrally, the area is dominated by Bracken.   The red data book moth, Nothris congressariella, whose lifecycle depends wholly on the nationally rare Balm-leaved Figwort can be found amongst this scrub

The island also supports the largest Lesser Black-backed Gull colony in the archipelago, along with the only remaining colony of Kittiwakes.  And Manx shearwater and Storm petrel are now breeding, since the successful removal of Brown Rats from the island in 2014.

Practical Management

Past farming activities which included planting of non-native hedges, has led to the encroachment of Pittosporum across the island.  Over the last 3 years 1ha of this species has been removed to prevent it from damaging the native habitats across the island.  Work has begun to link the maritime grassland areas to the south with those centrally and to the west of the island.  As you walk through the ‘Neck’ you will see a mosaic of grassland and scrub beginning to develop, with increases in the number of Wild Thyme, Autumn Lady’s-tresses and Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil, whilst the scrub at different ages provides the Nothris moth with Balm-leaved Figwort at every growth stage to ensure that every part of the moth’s life-cycle is provided for!