We have a couple of acres of wet, windy welsh hillside currently covered in grass tussocks and, increasingly, brambles plus whatever trees we can plant. We also spend a fortune on birdseed for bluetits, sparrows, willow tits, coal tits, greeenfiches, chaffinches, etc. etc. So the question is: can we use the land to feed the birds? It's great cover for voles etc. but not much help to the sparrows. We can't get a tractor to it, so "strip off the grass..." is a non-starter. And the grass strangles just about everything (including e.g. baby ash trees). We can scythe/strim some patches and sow/plant stuff in them, but what? Something with good seeds, especially for the winter. Teasels? Oats? Any ideas?
Hi TorriGwair welcome to the forum from Sheffield.
I'm no expert but i think the words "wet, windy welsh hillside" will determine what you can plant.
One thing that i think would grow is Hawthorn.
There are quite a few keen gardeners on the forum so you will probably get better advice than mine lol.
Hi TorriGwair, If you can give me a couple of days I will go and check the conservancy field that I butterfly monitor - off the top of my head there were:- cornflower, poppy, sunflower, fat hen, teasel, short growing oat (that may be due to lack of rain) and seed baring grasses - I'll also go through my photos and see what I can id. This field is specifically grown for autumn/winter migrants. It is on the top of a wind blown cliff!
Caroline in Jersey
Thanks folks (just got back on-line)
The issue really is: what can compete with tussock grass and provide bird food? We can't go on putting out half a kilo a day of seed. The soil - apart from being usually wet of course - is slightly acid (plenty of sorrel of all sorts). I thought maybe there are wild grasses with large seed. Millet even. Teasels? Then I've got to get them established. One trick is to clear a patch of brambles, which leaves fairly clean ground for planting. But I don't want willow herb to take over!
Any suggestions gratefully received.
Ok I got the the fields the other day and took some photos for you. As I said there are sunflowers, cornflowers, poppy, fat hen, various seeding grasses, oat, and others that I am not sure about. I have not been able to get hold of the lad that is responsible for the sowing to find out the seed mix yet as he is away on holiday but I will try.
The area is divided into 3 - to the far right there is a road, this is buffered by a 'hedge' of bramble, bracken and low growing gorse
Field 1 is the 'flower and seed grass field, Field 2 middle is mainly grass and some wild flower - left to grow very long (it was cut in September) and included Ragwort as no livestock graze it Field 3 (far left) is shorter grass with a few wild 'marsh' type wild flowers and borders a reed bed.
I don't know if this helps at all. Will let you know when I hear back.
Ok the field to the right is seeded with wild songbird mix and the the one to the left is winter
wildlife holding cover. I have also got a name and contact details which I will sent in a private message.
i especially grow cornflowers every year for the goldfinches and at the moment they are loving the sunflowers seeds off the sunflowers that i left standing
Noswaith dda TorriGwair a chroeso i'r fforwm.
I think the suggestion of hawthorn is perfect as it tolerates our acid soils as well as the wet hillsides! It provides food and nesting sites for lots of small birds and will also give some shelter where you may be able to establish other plants.
Dont get rid of all your bramble - again good cover and food source.
I find rowan are easy enough to establish if you are at the right elevation - check the land surrounding you to see whether and where it grows.
If you can establish a bit of a windbreak with trees and shrubby plants you'll find other things will become easier to get going if they are not battling the wind as well as the grass.
Thanks again for all the suggestions. Now all I've got to do is get sowing & planting. Mind you I'm still working through the long grass to find the ash trees I planted last year. Grass really loves it here.
Diolch yn fawr i bawb.