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Cousins working together on our family owned farm with the aim of running a commercial modern farm producing high yielding, high standard crops while maximising wildlife diversity. Brian is said to be the farmer and conservationist, whereas Patrick is a conservationist and farmer. This mix has given a new direction for the farm, building upon the work that our fathers and grandfather has done to improve the overall success of the farm business. The farm has gone from strength to strength with the farm being recognised at a national level winning the coveted National FWAG’s Silver Lapwing Award for farming and conservation in 2009 and then Patrick and Brian were named Countryside Farmer of the Year by the Farmers Weekly in 2010.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Bird Ringing at Lodge Farm, Westhorpe

Patrick ringing 2 Tawny Owl Chicks in 2010

 The Waveney Bird Club ringing group have been ringing birds regularly at The Barker’s Farm at Westhorpe since December 2008 in accordance with the rules of the British Trust for Ornithology’s ringing scheme and has provided the club’s ringers with many different birds, valuable training and much entertainment. Ringing started following the erecting of large nest boxes as part of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project in early 2008 and when the box in Moathill meadow fledged 3 Kestrel chicks and that summer ringing was off and running. In the 2 summers since then we have ringed young and adult Kestrels, young Stock Doves and Young Tawny Owls in the nest boxes around the farm and in June 2009 we ringed a buzzard chick from a nest in the woodland. As ringing progresses on the site we will look to gain as much understanding as possible about farmland birds, their movements, longevity and feeding habits and continue to add to the BTO’s data set for birds in the British Isles.

A Robin being ringed by Roger Walsh
Using the HLS option of Wild Bird Seed Mix we are not only able to providing many species of birds with a valuable food source by bridging the hungry gap but also giving the first year fledglings the opportunity to develop and grow as they are so important for providing the breeding population for the following year. Therefore these areas of seed mix are full of birds through the winter and flock counts are regularly in the region of 300 with Yellowhammers, Linnet, Greenfinch and Chaffinch the most common birds and Brambling, Reed Bunting, Redpoll, Bullfinch and Goldfinch at times as well as traditional garden birds such as Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Blackbirds and Blue, Great, Coal Marsh and Long Tailed Tits. We have also on rare occasions caught Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Song Thrush, Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Redwing and Jay. We have even on the odd occasion caught and ringed Woodpigeons. The most pleasing aspect of these mixes is their contribution addressing the declines in farmland birds and it is rewarding to see Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species such as Yellowhammer, Linnet, Song Thrush, Bullfinch and Dunnock in such large numbers. The mixes we sow contain red and white millet, sunflowers, late cob maize, mustard, phacelia, linseed and spring oats and are drilled in May with the sunflowers and phacelia flowering in June and July providing a great source of nectar for insects especially bumblebees and start to shed their see at the end of the autumn.
Some of the ringing highlights from Lodge Farm –

GK50572 – The first Buzzard ringed in Suffolk since 1995 and only the 3rd ever in the County.

V546204  -A Great Tit ringed in Thetford controlled at Westhorpe in 21-1-2010, 915 days later.

TJ83912 – A Greenfinch ringed at Gibraltar Point, Skegness, Lincolnshire on 04/05/2008 found dead in Westhorpe on 21/10/2009 545 days and 102km later.

X590181 - A Great Tit ringed by Stephen Flory in Westhorpe on 20/02/2009 and then re-caught in his own garden at Thorndon on 01/07/2009 131 days and 10km later.

EW92779 – A Kestrel, one of a brood of 4 chicks that fledged from a box in Braisworth was ringed on 18/06/2009 was controlled at Lodge Farm, Westhorpe on 03/01/2010, 199 days and 8km later. Another chick from this brood was found dead in Thornham Parva on 28/02/2010, 255 days after being ringed.

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