Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma

Guest blog by RSPB Cymru Conservation Advisor, Rhian Pierce.

Recently, myself and Rhys Evans, RSPB Cymru Policy Officer, had the pleasure of giving a talk to around 20 young farmers from the Trawsfynydd area. This was the first time RSPB Cymruhad been invited to talk with any Young Farmers Club, and we hope it will be the first of many!

The Prysor and Eden Young Farmers Club gave us a warm welcome, with Glain Williams being the instigator of the talk. Glain's interest in RSPB Cymru’s work came from her Taid (Grandad) who won the prestigious RSPB Nature of Farming award in 2004 at Hafodty Gwyn for his work in conserving lapwing.

Rhys introduced RSPB Cymru's work to the group before enlightening them about our numerous farming enterprises across the country, from RSPB South Stack, RSPB Ramsey Island and RSPB Lake Vyrnwy - the largest organic estate in the UK.

 We then challenged them with a bird ID quiz, with birds ranging from the blue tit to the hen harrier. After five minutes of allowing them to scratch their heads, I gave each club member one of our Tractor Cab Guides. These fab waterproof booklets include most common farmland birds, information about their habitat requirements and ideas about how one can help them. The young farmers ramped up their competitiveness with the top team scoring 12 out of 14! Many of them had seen birds such as the curlew, red kite and buzzard on their farms but weren’t sure of their names.

We then had a quiz focusing on where each of the 14 quiz birds might be found – ffridd (a mix of scrub and grassland), mountain tops and wet fields. I highlighted how important grazing and farming was to many of our loved farmland birds; we discussed why curlew and lapwing like wet soil as its easier for them to reach worms deep in the ground, why yellowhammers like gorse and ffridd as it provides them with pollen-rich flowers full of invertebrates, and why chough and ring ouzel like to feed in short swards as they’re easily able to reach beetles and buds to feed on.

I finished by asking how many of them had breeding curlews on their farms and was heartened to see five hands up in the air. I emphasised how lucky they are to have curlew on their land considering the 80% decline in numbers since the 1990's. We discussed what they could do to keep their breeding curlews, such as carrying out predator control and appropriate mixed grazing.

We ended the night by inviting the club to visit RSPB Lake Vyrnwy reserve once the evenings become lighter to see the type of farming and work we do there. The importance of creating local partnerships with groups like the Prysor and Eden Young Farmers Club is crucial as they hold the key to helping save farmland wildlife today and in the future.

Images in order they appear: Rhian Pierce giving chat at Young Farmers meeting; Lapwing and chicks by Amy Millard; Curlew by Andy Hay.