At Hope Farm we count birds in every month of the year.  The breeding numbers are key, but the winter figures are interesting and tell us something about the feeding conditions for those hardy species that stay with us through the winter.

A few days ago the December count was done at Hope Farm by a gang of counters.

In December 2000, soon after we acquired Hope Farm, the count, of 22 species, and including wood pigeons, was of 203 birds.

This week, there were 2075 birds of 44 species - quite an increase.  Even if you exclude wood pigeons (c600), pheasants and rooks (c150) there were over 1400 birds on the farmland.  That's actually a 10-fold increase in a 10-year period.

Species of note include 199 yellowhammer, 172 skylark, 61 linnet,  27 bullfinch, 137 redwing, 37 grey partridge, 1 corn bunting, jack snipe and waxwing.

Bullfinch and grey partridge counts are a record for any winter count.

Jack snipe and waxwing (grrrr!) are new species for the farm.

Hope not Hype!

Anonymous
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  • bordercollie - I don't think that we ever did anything specifically for bullfinches but I would guess that the rows might (I only say might) be a factor in attracting them.  Or - it might be a fluke!

    mirlo - well that's a fair point.  Our use of set-aside would count as de-intensification because the previous owner used the set-aside land to grow industrial oilseed rape (as was allowed).  So we introduced set-aside as set-aside and that made quite a difference in the early years.  Then use of agri-environment schemes with nectar-rich margins and beetle banks is taking a very small area of land out of intensive production too.  And we have monitored some invertebrates - but I'm not quite sure exactly which and how often - I'll find out and see whether there is a blog in that subject.  Certainly we've looked at butterfly numbers.

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  • bordercollie - I don't think that we ever did anything specifically for bullfinches but I would guess that the rows might (I only say might) be a factor in attracting them.  Or - it might be a fluke!

    mirlo - well that's a fair point.  Our use of set-aside would count as de-intensification because the previous owner used the set-aside land to grow industrial oilseed rape (as was allowed).  So we introduced set-aside as set-aside and that made quite a difference in the early years.  Then use of agri-environment schemes with nectar-rich margins and beetle banks is taking a very small area of land out of intensive production too.  And we have monitored some invertebrates - but I'm not quite sure exactly which and how often - I'll find out and see whether there is a blog in that subject.  Certainly we've looked at butterfly numbers.

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