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!

  • I too was disappointed that the RSPB changed the name of the farm, however once it was explained that the Grange Fm name was only a relatively new name itself it didn't really matter. Great work to produce such a good increase in species & numbers. I wonder if the bullfinches were a case of played for & got or rather there more by chance!

  • Thanks. Sounds even better now. Lets HOPE every one else thinks so as well.

  • Jockeyshield - briefly - our neighbours are not shooting estates or anything like that.  Since we acquired Hope Farm (about half way through, I think) one nearby farm has started releasing some grey partridges but I have to say that we got grey partridges basck at Hope Farm before that happened.  There is no predator control done by us and there is rather little done in the neighbourhood.  In my experience of visiting the site, we quite often see foxes, crows are common but magpies aren't very numerous.  There are counts from a nearby farm which we have now stopped because the two farms have diverged so much in various respects - but the farmland bird trends were always pretty flat compared with ours.  And we do compare our farm's Farmland Bird Index with that of the east of England as a whole and Hope Farm is psectacularly better.

  • What I would like to know about this oasis in a big desert is what are your neighbours doing? Are they part of shooting syndicate? Do they trap Stoats and Weasels? Are they killing Foxes and Crows? It's not all about land management. Are there counts on your neighbours' farms? With temperatures continuing to fall will you be doing any thing extra on the farm to support this wildlife?