The 2009 bird analysis was completed a week ago and the results have exceeded our initial expectations. This year’s figures are incredible with record territory counts of yellowhammer(39), skylark(44), grey partridge(5), whitethroat (48) and starling (19) recorded. The most startling increase though has to be linnet which rose from 18 pairs last year to 33 this. The overall Hope Farm Farmland Bird Index has now risen by 177% from our baseline year in 2000 (see graph below). The index is a collective population trend using the same 19 species as the UK government national indicator. At Hope Farm, we have been able to demonstrate that increasing farmland birds does not necessarily have to be at the expense of producing food or maintaining profits.  Creating seed and insect rich habitats as well as providing safe nest sites help to provide the three vital ingredients that farmland birds need to thrive. Whilst most species increased in number, there were a few disappointments most notably yellow wagtail where only a single pair was recorded. Corn Buntings are also an enigma, nesting on all our neighbouring farms but not ours; proof there is still work to be done. We have just started working on a paper analysing how the farmland birds have responded to our management. More detailed information about the survey results with will be placed on the website within the next month.

Species included within the index are corn bunting, goldfinch, greenfinch, grey partridge, jackdaw, kestrel, lapwing, linnet, reed bunting, rook, skylark, starling, stock dove, tree sparrow, turtle dove, yellowhammer, yellow wagtail, whitethroat and wood pigeon.

Starlings

19 pairs of starlings used nestboxes this year with 21 breeding attempts monitored in total.  The average number of  young produced was higher than 2008 but lower than 2006 and 2007. We have colour-ringed 56 young with a unique combination of rings which will help us investigate how far the starlings travel to collect food. This forms part of a study at the farm to identify if sheep grazing can be adapted to enhance invertebrate abundance whilst at the same time improving access for feeding starling

Harvest

Harvest is now completed the spring beans were combined on Friday. Although I have yet to have had figures back from the contractor the reports are the that the yields are exceptionally disappointing. The quad tractors are now cultivating ahead of sowing the wheat but we are unlikely to sow until we get some rain.

Anonymous