First Breeding Barn Owls

A great story to start this post and a first for the farm. We have added barn owls to the list of birds that have breed at the farm. This makes it the third species of owl to breed at the site after Little and Tawny. I took a group out at dusk last week and it was magically to see the adults hunting so effectively across the fields. They are seen regularly, at dawn and dusk, around our field margins, pasture and our beetle bank hunting voles to feed the chicks. The chicks should fledge any day now. You can see more on this story along with some video of the chicks being ringed by following the link.

Harvest starts

Last week the contractor harvested the oilseed rape. The weather had been frustrating with showers making it difficult to predict when we would be able to combine. The yields look significantly better than the last few year, I am relieved to say, the first field averaged 3.9t/ha a significant improvement on last year pathetic 1.5t.  Hopefully the ground will dry enough for the tractors to start preparation for next years crops, the fields that were in oilseed rape will be sown with winter wheat probably at the end of September or start of October. We are anticipating that the wheat should be cut in about two weeks and the spring beans in a month weather permitting.

Bat surveys

Last week 30 staff and volunteers undertook a bat survey as part of programme of our on-going non-avian biodiversity monitoring. Twenty five individuals from two species, common pipistelle and Daubenton’s were recorded.  This year we have surveyed a wide range of taxa including plants, butterflies, moths and other insect groups. The results from these surveys are eagerly anticipated as it gives us a valuable opportunity to examine how our management has affected their numbers and diversity since our baseline years in 2000 and 2001.