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Barnyards Marsh Wildlife Reserve situated between the village of Kilconquhar to the South and the hamlet of Barnyards to the North, is a typical example of the problems of conservation today.

Although the wildlife site is only 2.8 hectares in extent it is a virtual oasis, and is one of the last areas of its type in the East of Fife. The Reserve, comprising one third of the marsh, is part of the glebe of Kilconquhar Parish.

It is leased from the Church of Scotland by the Lady Elizabeth Lindsay Memorial Trust and managed on its behalf by the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

The Lady Elizabeth Lindsay Memorial Trust was set up by the Eleventh Earl of Balcarres in memory of his sister Lady Elizabeth, who was deeply interested in all things connected with nature. The object of the Trust is to foster a better understanding of conservation and wildlife in the East of Fife, especially in the younger generation.

The marsh is used for educational purposes by the local Primary School at Colinsburgh. The pupils take an active interest in the site and have contributed to a leaflet which is being prepared about the marsh.



Entrance

Entrance

Access to the Reserve

The easiest way to find the Marsh is to first find Kilconquhar, a picturesque old village straddling the B941, a branch road off the East Neuk Tourist Route (A917). The junction of the two roads is 1.5 km North of Elie.

Once you find Kilconquhar (pronounced locally as 'Kinneuchar') the rest is easy. The main Entrance to Barnyards Marsh is about 50m up the Colinsburgh road. This unclassified road is immediately across from the church ('Kinneuchar Kirk'.)

A well defined path meanders through the Reserve, from which flora and fauna can be observed, but wellington boots are advised in all seasons.

There is a car park nearby, opposite Kinneuchar Inn as well as street parking around the area of the church.



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Barnyards Marsh

Kilconquhar

NO 484 021
O.S. Sheet 59



Wildlife

The marsh is a species-rich area of wetland plants dominated by sedges, the most abundant being the Lesser Pond Sedge (Carex acutiformis), which is more commonly found in East Anglia and up the East coast of England than in Eastern Scotland. Other sedges are Brown Sedge (Carex disticha), White Sedge (Carex curta) and Bottle Sedge (Carex rostrata).

Altogether over 90 species of plant life have been listed. Rarer plants on the site include Northern marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza purpurella) and Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), while Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) and Common Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) are abundant.

In summer Sedge Warblers and Reed Buntings nest alongside our more usual garden birds, and much of the plant variety is attractive to butterflies, including the Ringlet in early July. Snipe and Jack Snipe overwinter on the site, mostly in the rush dominated area to the North of the drainage ditch.

A small pond has been dug. This has been colonized by the usual insect life, and has produced a healthy population of frogs over the last few years. Blue Tailed Damselflies have been observed but insect life has yet to be studied in depth.


Historical Perspective

As can be seen from the surrounding countryside, farming has played, and continues to play a major part locally. This has probably contributed to the demise of most areas of wetland in the East of Fife. It is because of this that places such as Barnyards have to be protected from further erosion.

The local Church which overlooks the village is 180 years old, having replaced a previous building parts of which can still be found in the kirkyard. There has been a church on this site for about 800 years.

Finally, if you look 2km North from the main entrance, up to the wooded Balcarres Ridge, you can see Balcarres House and Estate where Lady Elizabeth spent many happy hours studying nature, her love of which led to the Reserve.


Management

This consists at present of keeping the drainage ditch and path through the Reserve clear. An annual South West - North East transect takes place, usually around the first weekend in June. As growth and spread of species become better known some control may become necessary to help keep a balance of species on the marsh, especially to remove invasive garden plants such as Michaelmas Daisy.

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