This week has been a ‘birdy’ orientated one for me on the Estate. 1st February saw the start of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Big Farmland Bird Count and the culmination of the shooting season. So any shooting I do now is by camera. The Big Farmland Bird Count is a positive spin off from the now established Garden Bird Watch as run by the RSPB and promoted through various media channels. It provides me with an ideal opportunity to load up with bins’n’scope and patrol the Estate in the early hours.
Some like this wheatear are not so easy to spot…
…others are easier to see like this red kite
So far on my list we have skylark, tawny and barn owl, merlin, buzzard, herring gull, great black backed gull, corn bunting, green and greater spotted woodpecker, brambling, linnet….and the list goes on. For followers of this blog, the wren is still ‘clicking’ along beside me! And further updates can be found on my twitter – @rathfinnyrich
I also met with the Regional Agricultural Advisor for the RSPB this week, and the main question was – what are we doing for farmland birds and has there been any noticeable changes in bird numbers or species as the arable proportion of the Estate reduces? I discovered he was also a keen cyclist so we could discuss cover crops, seed rates and magnification of bins with gear ratios and bottom brackets.
Before we commenced planting vines I undertook a farmland bird survey of the whole Estate back in 2010. This has provided me with a suitable base to work from. On the whole in the past the farm had utilised every available space for arable planting and there was little room for wildlife to florish. The introduction of the vines has allowed nature space to breathe (must remember that sentence for future use! – Ed)
We have grassland strips, tussocky grassland banks, pollen and nectar planted areas, woodland, scrub and within the vineyard itself a whole host of habitats for our feathered friends. Encouraging seed and insect eating birds is ok, as they will assist us in combating any unwanted critters (insects which will feed off the vine or grape). What we do need to do is avoid attracting the fruit eating birds! Pheasants are known to have a penchant for grapes and their smaller cousins the starling will also descend on young vines. I will be keeping a watchful eye on any mis-behaving in the vineyard….
Scope and Pinot – perfection combination.
(Ed – Bins a.k.a binoculars)