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South West England
Stepping Up for Nature
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How far would you go to raise a family?
Harvest is never a particularly busy time for farm wildlife advice! With my phone growing cobwebs, what better time to down Stewardship applications and escape on holiday to Iceland? A fabulous choice for nature enthusiasts as it turns out. As well as breathtaking close-up views of Humpback Whales...
21 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
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
A farmland bird spectacle in Derbyshire
I was asked if I could do a bird survey on a farm to support a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) application and could not turn down the opportunity to nosey around a part of Derbyshire that I knew little about. So it was a very early start on Saturday to travel up to a hill farm on the edge of the Peak...
30 Apr 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
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
Who’s ever heard of the bull-nosed swollen-knee?
By Nick Tomalin, Stone-curlew Project Officer Who’s ever heard of the bull-nosed swollen-knee? No? How about Burhinus oedicnemus ? Still nothing? What if I said stone-curlew ? Now I hear a tiny groan of recognition, though I suspect that many of those who have heard of the species may already...
1 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
What do corn buntings and choughs have in common?
The current Cornish chough population (six breeding pairs in 2011) is the only one in England, having returned naturally to the Duchy in 2001. There is also a small edge of range population of corn buntings on the north coast of Cornwall and you can now see choughs and corn buntings feeding together...
31 Jan 2012
A Heart-Warming Story – but only if you read it to the end!
I know, it’s Friday 13 January, you’re skint, you’re cold and the Summer Hols seems a long dark way away. I’m sure you don’t need to be depressed any further. However, with the Twelve Days of Christmas just recently come to an end (and most of us still struggling to shift...
13 Jan 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
6 get out in the countryside
The agriculture policy team at the lodge spend much of their time in meetings in Defra offices, sat at our desks, or on trains to Brussels. So the opportunity to get out on farms and talk to farmers is something we all relish. So it was that when Stephen and Lynn Briggs asked us to come and visit Whitehall...
5 Aug 2011
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