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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.

Friday, 6 May 2011

An April of Activity

April has been a fascinating month for the wildlife on the farm with the dry weather giving the whole month a feel of summer. The Oil Seed Rape burst into flower between the 6th and 8th and changed the colour of the whole landscape. Hawthorn and Horse Chestnut have started to blossom as well giving insects and butterflies a plentiful nectar supply.

Hawthorn in flower

A Snakes-Head Fritillary appeared in flower on the village green on the 10th and Lesser Celandine and Marsh Marigolds were flowering about the same time. On the 1st Brimstone Butterflies were spotted at Westhorpe and Great Ashfield and Peacock, Orange Tip and Large White and Small Whites have been about all month. Two Barn Owls were disturbed in the dutch barn on the 1st and evidence suggests that they are regular visitors to and preparing to breed in another one of the boxes on the farm. A Sparrowhawk was hunting through the farmyard on the 3rd and Buzzards were circling over the farm on the 16th and 17th
Marsh Marigolds in Westhorpe
On the 19th I found where the Buzzards are nesting and will keep watching from afar to see if the breed successfully. Little Owls and a Kestrel have occupied the same perch on the wires above the long grass along the farm drive through the month. In the Wheat fields there are very good numbers of Skylarks displaying and singing and Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps have continued to sing through the month. By the 18th the flock of Yellowhammers and Linnet that have been feeding around the lagoon had dispersed to set up their breeding territories and the first Mallard ducklings were at Westhorpe Hall on the 8th. There have been fledgling Blackbirds and Robins seen in the garden and on the bird tables from the 28th.

Passing through this month was a Wheatear (16th), 4 Lapwing (13th) and 2 Greylag Geese (23rd). The most significant bird sightings have been the African migrants arriving and they included Turtle Doves (20th, 21st and 29th), Swallows (6th), Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler (20th). A Tawny Owl that I ringed after being accidentally caught in a Laursen trap on 29th Aril 2009 made a surprise reappearance in another trap on 1st May, two years later and was released unharmed. There have been a number of fox sightings about the farm and chicken feathers near the church would indicate they are eating well too. A number of Muntjac have also been spotted regularly. A colony of masonry bees have been excavating their way into our water tower and the first dragonfly of the year, a broad bodied chaser was recorded on the 30th at the Hall. For May we are hoping for a good rain or two to keep the crops growing and plenty of warm weather to maintain the excellent breeding and feeding conditions for many species and keep and eye and ear out for the remaining summer migrants like Spotted Flycatchers, Swifts, House Martins and Hobbys. PJB

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