Friday, 28 May 2010

Crow Predation

Paul, the head keeper at Overbury sent me this picture of a crow that was living on the farm. Under the nest was a total of 56 pheasant eggs and 5 partridge eggs. These eggs were all from wild bird nests and just goes to show the damage that just one pair of these predators can do to the native bird populations. There is lots of evidence published by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust detailing the need to control these predators to help game bird survival but also to have a very positive effect on the LBJ's (little Brown Jobs) ie the rest of the natural bird population (thrushes, blackbirds, yellow hammers etc).

Adjacent to this nest site was a magpie nest which was taken out earlier in the year and it was swamped with thrush and blackbird eggs.

Beetling About

Earlier this year we decided to plough up about 0.5ha of winter beans in order to establish a beetle bank and some extra winter bird mix area. The beetle bank will protect the wild bird feed area, incorporating a game strip from the activities going on in the field. I walked up and down the strip hand sowing grasses such as Timothy and Cocksfoot which will provide a great nesting habitat for the birds. The beetle bank as it's name suggests will also provide a wonderful home for many beetles and insects which in turn will provide food for creatures higher up the food chain. This mixture is called 'Yellow hammer Mix' and includes, mustard, spring wheat, mixed millet, triticale, spring barley and fodder radish. It will of coarse provide food for many more birds not just the Yellow Hammers.

The reason for this trial is to learn about growing these mixed crops as we are preparing our HLS scheme application which will include some areas of the farm dedicated to growing crops to feed birds. Now all we need is some nice warm rain to get the crops established!