We are committed to protecting and improving the environment in which we are fortunate enough to live and work, here in North Devon. And the birds living and breeding here are very important to all of us. At the start of the year we gave ourselves the challenge of counting the number of wild birds seen on our three small farms or nearby, and set our target at a minimum of fifty different species during 2021.
So, as we move into March, how are we doing?
Well, our bird count is rising……and we have just reached 40!
Recently Rob, our farm manager, has spotted a Yellowhammer and Stonechat on our farm at Newton Tracey.
The Yellowhammer, quite a solitary bird, which feeds on seeds and berries was seen at the woodland edge at our Grabbishaw farm. In North Devon, as in many other parts of the country, it was commonly known among country folk by the colloquial name, “Little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese” after its repeated call.
The Stonechat was far more difficult to identify. Initially we thought, from a distance, it might be a Marsh Tit or even a Willow Tit. Our marshy woodland had earlier been identified by experts as a potential site for the Willow Tit, an increasingly rare bird.
We have also seen beautiful and gregarious Lapwings, once a very frequent visitor to our meadows – and now returned, and also a pair of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, tiny birds, seeking out grubs and insects on the gnarled limbs of our ancient Horse Chestnut tree at Stone Farm, a tree now well into its second century.
We are starting to hear the birdsong at dawn. Birds are pairing up, investigating bird boxes and nesting sites, preparing for the breeding season. These sightings of less common species add greatly to the enjoyment we get from seeing so many birds around our farms.