We pride ourselves on creating good habitats for birds and other wild creatures on our organic farms. We leave hedgerows to grow longer to provide nesting sites, avoid using pesticides and chemicals, retain our traditional meadows, install bird boxes to further encourage nesting, grow crops that encourage a wide range of wildlife, maintain woodland and woodland edge habitats. Generally we try to maintain and improve the natural environment. As a result of these actions, we are used to seeing numerous bird species around our farms.
But in recent weeks the sightings have been exceptional. We have seen the usual winter visitors, flocks of geese, fieldfare, pigeons and starlings, as well as woodcock in our woodland, but also somewhat rarer birds.
Our large Japanese quince, or Chaenomeles Japonica, is in bud and starting to flower at Stone Farm. At dawn one morning we saw three Bullfinches feasting on the tiny buds. Fortunately the buds are plentiful so the birds feeding will not spoil the display of bright red flowers for us! A pair of tiny Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers were also seen rattling away on a dead and rotten tree trunk, and we saw some Mistle Thrushes calling loudly, bullying the Blackbirds away from a berry-covered hawthorn tree.
In addition to both Barn and Tawny Owls at Nethercott, we have also seen a Little Owl and a Grey Wagtail with its distinctive yellow breast and grey back, so much less common than its Pied Wagtail relative.
One of the great pleasures of a winter walk is to spot all the birds. We count ourselves privileged that we have so many species all around us!