• Catch us on Countryfile: hope for winter farmland birds

    Post from Georgie Bray, Hope Farm manager

    Tune into Countryfile this Sunday to find out how Hope Farm uses simple solutions to tackle a landscape scale problem for winter farmland bird survival... you don't want to miss it!

    Combatting the cold

    At this time of year, food availability (or lack of it) is the largest pressure on farmland bird populations as they require so much more energy in the colder months. Fortunately…

    • 11 Jan 2019
  • Big boots to fill at Hope Farm

    A new era starts at Hope Farm, with a new Farm Manager in place to oversee our continuing commitment to testing, trialling and demonstrating wildlife-friendly farming practices. Georgie Bray looks back over the progress on the farm in recent years, and her new role in taking it forward.
    • 18 Dec 2018
  • Gwent Levels Sustainable Land Management Project

    The Gwent Levels in South East Wales is one of the largest areas of reclaimed grassland in the UK and the largest in Wales. The creation and management of this landscape over hundreds of years has resulted in a unique landscape where nature has thrived alongside a variety of land uses including farming. This landscape is important for biodiversity, recreation, ecosystem services such as flood alleviation and carbon storage…
    • 26 Nov 2018
  • The twite are back in town!

    Twite are unique in that they only eat seeds, and rear their young on seed alone (many birds feed insects to their chicks). A good supply of small seeds of meadow plants such as dandelion, hawkbit and sorrel is critical to their survival. RSPB has been working in partnership with the National Trust, as well as other conservation partners and farmers to encourage the flowering and seeding of meadow plants to provide food…
    • 23 Nov 2018
  • Working for Waders across Scotland

    If you live in Scotland it is more than likely you will come across at least one species of wader when you are travelling around the countryside. Scotland holds a significant proportion of the UK population of curlews, redshanks, lapwings, oystercatchers and snipe. Whilst still relatively common, compared to other countries in the United Kingdom the numbers of many of these waders have declined significantly over the…
    • 21 Nov 2018
  • Getting down to business with wildlife friendly farming

    Georgie Bray, Assistant Manager at the RSPB's Hope Farm shares her experience of joining with other nature-friendly farmers at an event in Westminster to show that Nature Means Business

    Currently, the Ag Bill is being discussed amongst MP’s in the House of Commons, underlying one of the most changeable times in agricultural policy in the last half century. With discussions amongst MPs about the future of policy, comes…

    • 20 Nov 2018
  • Agriculture Bill: A step forward for nature but there’s still much to do

    Guest post from Tom Lancaster, Principal Policy Officer in the RSPB's Land Use Policy team

    The Agriculture Bill presents a once in a generation opportunity to secure a better future for wildlife, in a way that also secures the future of farming andproduction of more sustainable food. Tabled on 12 September, and now deep into the “Committee Stage” of the Parliamentary process, the Bill and the policy statement that…

    • 6 Nov 2018
  • Seeds of success: Working together in East County Down

    Guest blog by Seán Woods, RSPB NI’s east County Down Conservation Advisor working with over 70 farmers and landowners in and around Strangford Lough in County Down, Northern Ireland.

    Image: (c) Claire Barnett, RSPB

    The east County Down landscape is home to a large proportion of arable farmers with approximately 40% of farms being mixed or arable, compared to an average of 10% across Northern Ireland.

    • 6 Nov 2018
  • The Butterflies and the Bees - Hope Farm 2018

    Sophie Mott, Research intern at Hope Farm, provides the 2018 results of the butterfly and bee monitoring season.

    As you may have seen in an earlier post, the extreme weather of spring and summer 2018 meant a tough year for farmers and wildlife alike, notably for our birds. Territory holdings and breeding success suffered for many species across the farm and now we can only hope to support as many birds as possible through…

    • 1 Nov 2018
  • A helping hand for curlews in the South West

    Richard Archer, Senior Conservation Officer, explains more about protecting breeding curlews on the Somerset Levels

    The national decline in breeding curlews has been well publicised, especially on the upland moors, where most of the breeding pairs are. People are less aware that curlew still breed on lowland farmland, especially in damp, traditionally-managed hay meadows. Lowland England for example has over 260 breeding…

    • 31 Oct 2018
  • Agriculture Bill – things are about to get real

    Tom Lancaster, Principal Policy Officer, provides an update on the Agriculture Bill

    This week, the Government’s new Agriculture Bill will get its second reading in the Commons. As the first opportunity for MPs to debate the Bill, and all that it means for farming, food and the environment, this is a crucial milestone.
    With our partners in Greener UK and Wildlife and Countryside Link, we have published a briefing…

    • 9 Oct 2018
  • Squeaky bum time for farming and wildlife

    By Tom Lancaster - Principal Policy Officer, Agriculture for the RSPB

    As conservationists, we’re sometimes accused of being hyperbolic, evoking the threat of ecosystem collapse in every tweet, blog or magazine article.

    With recent studies suggesting a collapse in insects, and the threat that we’re heading toward a ‘hothouse Earth’, coming on top of years of warnings from reports such as State…

    • 23 Aug 2018
  • Movement on rural policy in Scottish Government

    A Scottish Government consultation on a transition to a new rural policy closed last week. The theme was ‘Stability and Simplicity’, setting out plans to make the next few years as smooth as possible for land managers and rural businesses as we transition to a new system post-Brexit.

    According to the Scottish Government, the aim of the transition is to ‘enhance [farmers and crofters’] role as stewards of…

    • 17 Aug 2018
  • A hard year for crops and wildlife means early preparation for winter at Hope Farm

    Blog post by Derek Gruar, Senior Research Assistant, RSPB Centre for Conservation Science and Georgie Bray, Hope Farm's Assistant Manager.

    Farming is a rewarding but very challenging test of resilience for many reasons. This year has been particularly testing, and really hammered home to us that we, like the wildlife around us, are at mercy to the almighty clouds, rain and sun from above. Whilst ensuring profitable…

    • 17 Aug 2018
  • Voting for Nature – say what you want to see in the Agriculture Bill

    At this time of year, as the nation’s attention shifts to summer holidays and farmers across the country are busy with harvest, it’s hard to keep focused on forthcoming pieces of legislation and parliamentary procedure – but we must.

    The Secretary of State Michael Gove was right when earlier this year he wrote, ‘Leaving the European Union (EU) provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform agriculture…

    • 13 Aug 2018
  • Discounted RSPB handbooks available at a bargain price

    We have advisors who speak to hundreds of land managers every year, supporting them in managing their land sympathetically. But did you know that there is also a wide range of land management handbooks available from the RSPB?

    These comprehensive guides have proved incredibly popular over the years, benefitting a wide range of species. If you're already managing for wildlife alongside your agricultural interests or you're…

    • 10 Aug 2018
  • Welsh dairy farmers look to make more space for nature

    Guest blog by Gethin Davies (RSPB Senior agricultural adviser)

    A group of Welsh dairy farmers have recently started a project working with conservation organisations to find out how they can do more for wildlife on their farms.

    The Calon wen organic dairy farmers cooperative have developed the ‘Pasture for Pollinators’ project with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the RSPB to identify practical ways…

    • 9 Aug 2018
  • 19 years of starling breeding data at Hope Farm

    Posted on behalf of Derek Gruar, Senior Research Assistant at Hope Farm

    Starlings are often described as a “marmite” bird you either “love them or hate them”. I’m very much the former and find them endlessly fascinating. Lately the profile of starlings has increased markedly with natural history programmes and even TV commercials using the allure of murmurations where thousands of starlings perform breath-taking pre…

    • 19 Jul 2018
  • Hope Farm - A hub for knowledge sharing on wildlife friendly farming

    May and June is our busiest time of year in terms of visitors and events that Hope Farm. We are yet to take a visitor on a walk since May without the sun beating down upon us, which could be both a positive and a negative. As a positive, in true British style, anybody coming along is pleased to make the most of any warmth outside as you never know if another 3 months of rain is hiding around the corner, but as a negative…

    • 4 Jul 2018
  • What a way to celebrate Open Farm Sunday!

    For the last three previous years at Hope Farm, we have celebrated LEAF Open Farm Sunday with additions of new and exciting activities every year. On Sunday we were thrilled to open our gates to around 800 visitors from all around the area. Our aim was to help people engage with, be educated about, but mostly enjoy experiencing wildlife friendly farming at the heart of it. I think its safe to say that we succeeded with…

    • 15 Jun 2018
  • Brexit challenges for farmers and crofters in Scotland

    A new report commissioned by the Highlands and Islands Agriculture Support Group highlights the significant challenges that could be faced by farming and crofting communities in the Highlands and Islands, post Brexit. The report assesses the likely impacts of different Brexit scenarios on the economy and communities and their related effects on wildlife, the environment and key sectors such as tourism.

    The report concludes…

    • 8 Jun 2018
  • A new partner for Farm Wildlife

    The Freshwater Habitats Trust have recently joined the Farm Wildlife partnership, bringing the number of participating conservation organisations to nine. They join the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife, RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts.

    "The Freshwater Habitats Trust is an evidence-based conservation charity, working…

    • 7 Jun 2018
  • Come and see us during show season

    As usual, RSPB staff will be in attendance at various shows and events around the UK over the coming months. The Balmoral Show has already taken place (see a round up of the goings-on below), or if you're after some advice, want to share your experiences or just to catch up with your local team, read on to find out where you can do that.


    The Balmoral show represents Northern Ireland’s largest agricultural…

    • 5 Jun 2018
  • A new action plan for Turtle Doves - and how you can get involved

    Guest blog from Joscelyne Ashpole and Guy Anderson

    Turtle doves need our help. Since 1995, numbers of this iconic farmland bird have dropped by a staggering 94% in the UK. Numbers are also declining across the whole of Europe.

    Losses of crucial habitat for the species such as hedges, scrub and wooded areas for nesting, low open vegetation with an abundance of weed seeds for feeding, and small waterbodies or ponds for…

    • 31 May 2018
  • The future of agriculture in Northern Ireland - A response to the NI Affairs Committee

    RSPBNI has partnered with a range of environmental NGOs as part of the NI Nature Matters campaign, which is working together for a nature friendly Brexit in Northern Ireland. Recently, as part of this coalition we responded to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in Westminster regarding the opportunities and challenges facing the agricultural industry here as we prepare to leave the EU. Without a working government…

    • 24 May 2018