From January 76% of RSPB bird seed will be sourced through Conservation Grade Farms. The scheme requires any farmers signed up to Conservation Grade to actively manage 10% of the farmable area on their farms for wildlife.
The scheme is locally tailored, so an area where skylarks used to be abundant may allocate land to help this species, or an area where bees and other pollinators are struggling may have a wildflower meadow managed on the farm.
Fair to nature oats, barley and wheat from the UK
In the UK cereal fields where migrant birds spend the summer, Fair to Nature farmers provide a good mixture of nectar-rich plants to encourage insects. They also plant fumitory – a vital plant for turtle doves.
Turtle Dove by Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Fair to nature sunflowers from Bulgaria
The RSPB is the first to source these sunflower seeds from conservation grade farmers, and will consequently be the first retailer to sell them!
Fair to nature growers in Bulgaria set aside 10% of their land to provide bug-rich feeding grounds for crested larks, corn buntings and red-backed shrikes
So buying RSPB bird seed when you come to visit us at Pulborough Brooks helps wildlife in three ways:
You’re helping the birds in your garden survive the winter
You’re helping our farmland birds here and our migrant birds in Europe
And you’re supporting a host of other RSPB projects to save nature because the profits go straight to funding more conservation work.
Stock up your bird feeders with tasty treats, make yourself a cup of tea and spend an hour watching and recording the birds in your garden this weekend.
Yes, it's Big Garden Birdwatch time!
If you've not done it before, join in this year, pick your hour and record the highest number of each bird species you see at the same time. Once you've done that, we also want to hear about some of the other wildlife that's at home in your garden during the year.
You can pick up a survey form, along with sunflower seeds and suet sprinkles and all manner of other treats for the birds from the Visitor Centre here at Pulborough Brooks. There's also lots more info, and fun & games for the family, on our website. Visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch
Some of you may remember the rather splendid water rail nicknamed 'Wally' who paraded in front of the Visitor centre for us several winters ago. I still get asked whether he has come back...
Fond memories....Wally the water rail, photographed by Howard Statham
Whilst there has been no sign of him for the past two winters, there is certainly water rail activity out on the trail with sightings from both Winpenny and Nettley's hide. This morning, our guided walk had a fabulous view of the rail right in front of the hide for quite some time.
When conditions are icy it tends to be an ideal opportunity to see snipe - the work we have done in front of West Mead hide seems to be yielding results with regular close-up views of these sneaky little birds. The black-tailed godwit numbers are still around the 500 mark are most often found on the North Brooks.
Whilst snipe are normally perfectly camouflaged, they show up rather better in the snow - this photo was taken by one of our volunteers, Chris, a couple of years ago when we had a cold winter.
Despite the wintery conditions, the great spotted woodpeckers seem to think that it is spring and can be heard drumming. Most mornings I am greeted by this sound - the big oak on the corner of the car park is a favourite spot.
The full set of winter thrushes can be found - song, mistle, redwing and fieldfare - roaming the hedgerows and pasture fields. In addition to goldcrests there have also been 2 firecrest sightings in the past few days - in different spots each time, but keep your eyes and ears open.