Record November Count

 A promising start to the winter bird counts with staff recording a record total number of birds for November. This was in part thanks to 230 yellowhammer, 60 linnets and good numbers of chaffinch and greenfinch. This is a marked improvement from the first count I helped with, back in November 2001, where the total yellowhammer numbers struggled to reach 30. A single corn bunting, woodcock and five snipe were the more unusual species recorded. Numbers of migrant species were mixed with good numbers of redwing but low counts of fieldfare and skylark.

 Monthly whole farm bird counts have taken place at Hope Farm each winter between November and March since 2000/2001 involving a small team of up to five surveyors covering the whole farm. By using the same methodology, we are able to compare how our management influences bird numbers. The counts over the previous winters have shown that winter bird numbers in 2008/2009 (last winter) were 476% higher than 2000/2001. Winter seeds are provided through the wild bird cover and over winter stubbles are particularly important for the small seed eating species such as yellowhammer, linnet and reed bunting (see the previous entry) and we are still recording small coveys of grey partridge primarily within the broadcast oilseed rape. It will be interesting to see if this promising start continues throughout the winter and beats last year's figures.

 1st event for the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE)

We held our first event in support of the CFE on 26th November in conjunction with the NFU, FWAG, Natural England and the Environment Agency. This event aimed to provide training for 35 agronomists to help prepare them for their role in delivering the aims of the campaign.The campaign will encourage farmers to retain the environmental benefits of set-aside voluntarily, and avoid regulatory measures being introduced.

Three key targets have been set: Doubling the area of in-field entry level stewardship options; retaining the current level of uncropped land, and increase the area of voluntary environmental management on farm. You can find out how the farm is meeting the campaign objectives from the previous blog entry.

If you would like to attend an event or plan an event for your company, get in touch with and we will let you know details of future events.


The weather is never right as far as the farming is concerned!. When we were sowing the wheat at the start of October we were praying for rain because the seedbeds were so dry, now we would like it to stop. The wet and relatively mild weather has now delayed spraying the wheat for grass weeds until probably after Christmas.