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Common Agricultural Policy
Stepping Up for Nature
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A difficult cropping year at Hope Farm
The weather dictates everything in farming whether you are an arable or livestock farmer. For us as an arable farm cultivations, spraying operations and harvesting are all at the mercy of the weather. Crop growth is also very much affected by the weather. © Andy Hay, RSPB Images When wheat...
22 Apr 2013
On the second day of Christmas.......
My true love sent to me two turtle doves (are you singing it in your head yet?). I prefer my birdlife in the wild, but these are two turtle doves that I would accept in my hands with great pleasure! Cally Higginbotham, a fabulous chocolatier from Chesterfield, visited Malta, where she discovered...
14 Dec 2012
While stocks last..
Fancy filling your belly for free? If like me you are a frugal type and not easily embarrassed, this is the time of year to scour Fen roadsides. Lorries piled to the brim with spuds, onions and carrots are trundling back and forth as fast as they can go from the field to the packing plant. You can...
20 Oct 2012
Hope Farm Yields: crops and birds
August is really the end of the farming year as the final crops are harvested, here at least, and also marks the end of the breeding season. So it seems a good time to do a round-up of how our harvest went and how our breeding birds fared. Both the crops and the wildlife on the farm are heavily influenced...
26 Sep 2012
Worth a read
Earlier this week I asked you to spend a minute filling in a questionnaire about agri-environment schemes (which you can find here if you haven’t had time to do it yet). If you want to read what some farmers say agri-environment schemes mean to them, check out Martin Harper’s blog today...
14 Sep 2012
Plump and Chirpy
by Stuart Croft - Cirl Bunting Reintroduction Field Officer Go back a couple of generations and the plight of one particular species was not a good one. The cirl bunting – a sparrow-sized bird, closely related to the yellowhammer - gets its name from an Italian translation meaning plump and...
5 Jul 2012
Here’s one we prepared earlier...
I LOVE this time of year! Is it the long days? The celebrations? The countryside bustling with life? All these things! But most of all it's because it’s the time of year I get to make farmers pose self-consciously for photos in patches of pretty flowers! Awk-ward! Meet my latest victim...
29 Jun 2012
Release of the new biodiversity indicators from Defra
Everybody talks about the long-term decline in farmland bird populations because this group has been effectively monitored for the longest period. But there is a growing list of other important farmland taxa that are being monitored including plants and butterflies. Defra released the 2012 report on...
30 May 2012
It's Good to Talk
Weather. We all love to talk about it, none more so than farmers. Here in the Cambridgeshire Fens we are in the paradoxical position of having just had the second wettest April since records began but being one of the counties still worst hit by drought. As you can imagine that’s giving us plenty...
11 May 2012
By Andrew Taylor, Great Bustard LIFE+ Project Adviser Thanks to a reintroduction project on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, the great bustard can now be seen on farms in south west England for the first time since the early 19 th Century. Perhaps the UK’s rarest farmland bird, this spectacular...
24 Apr 2012
What's in a name?
Mention the word 'farmer' in a sentence and most people would understand that you that you were talking about someone who produces food of some description. That's a farmer's job, right? Hmmm. What if that same person was described as a 'multifunctional rural resource manager'...
23 Apr 2012
The Village Bunting’s Out for Easter in the Fens
Spotted on my way home from work – a 100-strong mixed flock of buntings and yellowhammers , with the odd tree sparrow thrown in for good measure. Tweeting, jangling hissing and popping away, they are restless, exuberant and full of spring energy, torn between winter flocking behaviour and breaking...
6 Apr 2012
It's the Little Things...
Don’t you find that the world always seems better when you’re out in the fresh air, enjoying the steady arrival of spring? We outdoor types on the Eastern England farmland advisory team certainly think so. Looking at various winged things with RSPB and Buglife farmland bods ...
9 Mar 2012
Mind the (Hungry) Gap
Is it nearly Spring yet? Well, it depends who you ask. While we patiently hang on for the 21 March, optimistic Celts have already celebrated Imbolc on 1 February. Its arrival was also heralded on 1 February by chicken farmers the world over, as they celebrated the day of their patron saint, St Brigid...
13 Feb 2012
A positive outlook?
In my office, I'm often mocked for my eternal optimism. Even when asked the question "What can we do about farmland bird declines?" my answer would be 'Lots!" I'm positive that the future could be much brighter for many of the specialist birds that depend on farmland for survival...
15 Dec 2011
Creating space for a battling midfielder
Back in the Wilkinson years, before Batty turned England Captain, before Kamara turned Sky pundit, and before Eric turned Red, I was a Leeds fan. Me and Dad had season tickets in the East Stand and never missed a home game. Eventually the endless 0-0 draws under George Graham put me off football altogether...
23 Sep 2011
Cirl Bunting Bulletin
When was the last time you had a cirl bunting on your farm? My guess is unless you live in Devon or parts of Cornwall you’ve probably never heard of them. These relatives of yellowhammers, until the turn of the 19 th century, had a stronghold throughout southern England and into parts of...
31 Aug 2011
Step into my Office
Welcome to my office. I reckon it’s one of the biggest in the UK. Vaguely speaking, the ‘walls’ are the A14 to the south, the Cambridgeshire border to the west, the start of the sandy Brecks to the east, and to the North... Well I haven’t quite decided but it’s somewhere...
26 Aug 2011
Showing MEPs how farming and nature conservation can go hand in hand
Over the summer months, the RSPB has met with many MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) to discuss topics as varied as seabird by-catch from fishing fleets to biodiversity in the UK’s overseas territories. For two MEPs in July, the focus of our meetings was to demonstrate how farming and...
16 Aug 2011
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