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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.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

May


Pollen & Nectar Mix
May has seen a wide variety of wildlife about the farm but a limited amount of rain. We started the month with a Tawny accidentally caught in a magpie trap which was released unharmed. This Tawny Owl was caught the same way and ringed in April 2009 so good to see that it is still alive and well 2 years later. Throughout May evidence of successful breeding has been noticed, fledged Blackbirds, Robins, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Starlings, Long Tailed, Blue Great and Coal tits have been spotted on and around the garden and office bird feeders and moorhen chicks and ducklings have been darting from cover to the pond and back. They will be trying to avoid the Sparrowhawk which flew through the yard (14th). Barn Owls and Buzzards are being seen almost every day around the farm and village so we are very hopeful of breeding success. Turtle Doves have been spotted around the farm through the month and a Spotted Flycatcher was calling in the churchyard on the 19th. On the same day 3 Shelduck flew over the farm which is the first record for the farm for that colourful species of duck. A pair of Grey Partridges was sitting on the front lawn on the 14th and another pair was seen at Kiln Farm on the 21st.

The next evening at Kiln Farm we were able to count 100+ Great Crested Newts in the garden pond and heard a Barn Owl calling in the darkness.

There has been a lot of activity around the ponds at Westhorpe Hall as they have held their water level very well. A broad bodied chaser was laying eggs in the pond on the 29th and common damselfly can be seen with almost every visit. The area of pollen and nectar mix has been attracting butterflies most regularly seen are common blues and speckled wood. A Kingfisher has bee seen perched above the pond in the aptly Pond Meadow and the pollen and nectar mix in the middle of the farm has burst into flower and is full of many different species of insect and bumblebees.

I have also been able to visit all of the Barn Owl boxes and have ringed two Tawny Owl chicks, 3 jackdaw chicks and have two female kestrels sitting on eggs in different boxes. Outside of Westhorpe I have seen pheasant chicks in Pakenham, fox cubs in Gislingham and House Martins, Swifts and Swallows over Stowmarket, Gazeley and Rickinghall and a female Black Redstart in La Rochelle, France. All in all a busy month but hopefully June will show many more breeding successes and an indication of whether our habitats developments can sustain population increases and the pressures of parents feeding hungry young.

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