Encouraging better care of the environment

Newbury Weekly News article scan 20/04/17 – Country Matters (Andrew Davis) – Click on the image for a better close-up.

A number of my clients, in fact, the vast majority can probably be classed as Stewards of the landscape. The scanned copy headline as taken from my local newspaper, the Newbury Weekly News back on April 20th this year, talks about an uncertain future for farming post-Brexit but from somewhat of a positive viewpoint (pleasing to see). More broadly, it speaks of what Brexit might mean for the Agricultural sector and its subsequent management (i.e. environmental stewardship) of the UK countryside as a whole. Collaborative approaches such as river catchment conservation projects, farmer clusters and farming/science-led directives will all help guide our way in future and I’m sure will be getting deservedly media attention as a result. The article replicated below taken from the very same newspaper cutting is from Nicola Chester and speaks of the yearly differences she witnesses on her patch (North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty*) and the need to assess such changes.

 

Newbury Weekly News article scan 20/04/17 – NATURE NOTES (Nicola Chester) – Click on the image for a better close-up.

 

Speaking of assessments or continual monitoring as we should perhaps name it, I am dead keen on undertaking bird surveys as you will realise from past blog posts. In such instances, I have been known to offer up occasional snippets of useless useful information on one’s bird communities on people’s landholdings from time to time as well. Here I will kick off with some basic conservation approaches which might work on your farm, country garden or local park or wherever you might reside. Two bird species starting with the letter B. The currently thankfully common Blackbird and our somewhat rarer Amber-listed Bullfinch.

 

Blackbird conservation guidelines from Tony William Powell and naturestimeline

 

What you looking at! So says, Mr Blackbird (Turdus merula)

 

  • It is widely accepted, when hedges are left to bear fruit or seeds, they benefit a number of species, the Blackbird being one of them. Of course, this requires a minimum of a two-three year management plan in which time, the hedges are unmanaged, although the dense cover potentially arising from this is a crucial ingredient in bird survival rates. Admittedly, inaccessible field and hedge boundaries do produce a larder for wintering birds and other wildlife. Blackbirds are especially tied to hedgerows for nesting in and according to BWPi**, their primary food types are insects and earthworms. By boosting the in-field soil structure, so that it produces more organic matter, which in turn provides higher earthworm densities are also likely to assist the Blackbird populations, longer-term.

 

Bullfinch conservation guidelines from Tony William Powell and naturestimeline

 

An Amber-listed species of conservation concern, a first-year Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

 

  • Currently, Amber-listed, the Bullfinch is particularly vulnerable to food source limitations and never likes to feed far from cover. Fruit tree seeds and other weed seeds feature heavily in their diets, and they are particularly fond of the keys on the Ash, which is sadly now increasingly threatened by disease. A tall and dense hedgerow in which to nest is a critical component in Bullfinch breeding cycles, and they are especially fond of hawthorn and blackthorn. The Bullfinch normally avoids contact with people, so a lack of disturbance seems integral to its successful breeding attempts.

 

 

Never be afraid to contact me off page should you wish to know more about my services or more generally, my obsession for protecting and enhancing the bird and other wildlife communities of the United Kingdom.

 

Best Wishes and until next time.

Tony

 

As ever, you can continue to access my Facebook updates by clicking on the Red Admiral butterfly icon below.

naturestimeline Education services – “A conservation professional sharing his personal perspective on breaking news stories from the world of nature alongside his own accounts from the field.”

and

 

* could be deemed as my patch as well when time permits

** as published by Birdguides, the Birds of the Western Palearctic interactive

A kind winter thus far in the UK

What a difference a year makes. At this midway point through Meteorological winter 2016/17, the weather so far has been much kinder than last year. December 2015 was horrendously mild, bad for wildlife in that most things were out of sync, the natural world in the UK at least didn’t know whether it was coming or going.

 

It was also bad for farming at this stage last winter, crops and grass were growing vigorously, and diseases and pests were prevalent, meaning more chemical expenditure down the line for struggling farming communities. We need winters like those of former years to return occasionally to restore some balance.

 

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This one thus far has seen a very typical Temperature setup locally with a reasonable tally of Air frosts when skies cleared by night, although precipitation has been somewhat with December proving very dry when compared to the average as the image below states.

 

monthly-climatological-summary-for-december-2016
Personal Weather Station Monthly Climatological Summary for December 2016

 

As you’ll notice upon reading the above article from the Newbury Weekly News dated January 14th, 2016, phenology events, i.e., those signs from nature bore no resemblance to most years past, way before climate change processes steadfastly took a grip on things. The winter of 2016/17 thus far has been kinder to the farming community and consequently nature itself, as far as I am aware from what I’ve read and heard about in the press. Here’s to the rest of the winter, playing ball too then. I do feel for our European neighbours, though. January 2017, in particular, has so far seen brutal cold in a significant number of places as the following link to a recent BBC article indicates.

 

Icy weather in Europe causes more hardship and chaos

 

A couple of phenology events which need updating to my records database are the 1st instance of flowering Hazel catkins on the 15th January and 1st flowering Snowdrops around about the 13th January.

 

As ever, you can continue to access my Facebook updates by clicking on the Red Admiral butterfly icon below.

naturestimeline Education services – “A conservation professional sharing his personal perspective on breaking news stories from the world of nature alongside his own accounts from the field.”

and

 

Getting out and about at Farm Fest 2014

Naturestimeline hasn’t ceased to be, in spite of what some might wish or hope for and on the outside chance that you may have missed me, I’ve had PC issues and well, I’m back.

On the 12th July, I was out and about supporting a local farming enterprise recently, hence the post title* *click on the underlined link for further information regarding the Farm Fest event. Nature and farming practices are inextricably linked so I found this day out, particularly enthralling. As a farmland bird researcher, it is crucial that I continue to learn the link between farmland practices and its effect on the sadly often declining farmland bird species**

Below are some of my own pictures of the event, which is one of many that each and every one of us can attend, so search out an event near you.

The route into Farm Fest 2014 at Parsonage Farm, Andover
The route into Farm Fest 2014 at Parsonage Farm, Andover
Farm Fest 2014 at Parsonage Farm in progress
Farm Fest 2014 at Parsonage Farm in progress
Some of the farm buildings at Farm Fest 2014, held at Parsonage Farm, Andover
Some of the farm buildings at Farm Fest 2014, held at Parsonage Farm, Andover

Just to add, I have no personal involvement with the farm in question but I do hugely value the farming community. I did however, get to taste some local brews once I had returned home.

Some of Upham Brewery's finest Ales
Some of Upham Brewery’s finest Ales

Let us not forget that even the brewing process of Ales or whatever happens to be your tipple requires a little help from Mother Nature, so much respect to her.

Cheers

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** unless perhaps you’re born a generalist species such as a Jackdaw or Woodpigeon, whose numbers take up the bulk of available farmland bird food biomass