Greetings wildlife lovers!
After spring and summer spent in almost total hibernation (thanks Covid!), the Wildlife Group sprang back to life in August 2020 with a flurry of activity.
We’ve been working on a range of exciting projects over the last few months; from surveys and bulb planting to creating habitats for our bird, mammal, invertebrate, reptile and bird visitors.
Late summer 2020 saw us undertaking bee and butterfly surveys as part of the Big Butterfly Count as well as several Bee Walks. Even rainy days didn’t put the bees off as they found shelter on the underside of the teasels in the wildlife garden by the roundhouse.
As summer changed to autumn, we turned our attention to the hedgerows and margins and began the epic task of removing the brambles which had encroached into the rough grassland margins. Where possible, the brambles were carefully woven back into the hedgerow to provide shelter for nesting birds in the winter and spring, and food for our mammals, birds and bees (who absolutely love brambles!). It took a lot of hard work from a dedicated group but most of the margins are now clear.
We also began letting our human visitors know what the Wildlife Group are up to with the notice board in the veg shed which we update weekly - so when you're there on Veg Shed Saturdays be sure to take a look!
In October and November, we began preparing to welcome any mammals and reptiles who might want to overwinter at The Farm. This meant digging large holes and then refilling them with branches, tubes and rocks to create hibernaculum (reptile and invertebrate homes). We also created intricate mazes of bricks covered in vegetation for our hedgehog friends. The 'winter retreats’ have been handily signposted to ensure our guests have a restful stay (and to ensure that no unsuspecting community farmer or volunteer falls into a big hole!).
Preparing for the spring became our focus in December and January; we planted bulbs under the apple trees along the main track, added more wildflower plug plants to the western margin, and begun the removal of unwanted blackthorn saplings. Some of our preparations were guided by a visit from Chris Sperring from the Owl and Hawk Trust and as a result of our wildlife walk, we hope to complete a February strim of part of the eastern margin to encourage new grass growth and improve the habitat of the short-tailed vole (a favourite snack for kestrels and tawny owls which have been sighted overhead!).
February has seen us turn our attention to our feathered friends. We began by installing 2 boxes built for us by Ecowild, and have continued to build more nest boxes with wood very kindly donated to the Wildlife Group and some (very) basic DIY skills! These boxes will all be placed within the hedgerows to encourage robins and blackbirds to nest as we have a number of tit boxes and owl boxes already installed in previous years. Let’s hope someone moves in!
It’s been a busy few months for the Wildlife Group with members benefiting both physically and mentally. I can assure you that there is nothing better than getting wet, muddy and cold with fellow nature lovers for boosting your mood!
Muddy best wishes,
Jennie Scrivens, The Community Farm Wildlife Group
Keep up to date with all our volunteer groups by following @storiesfromthefarm on Instagram.