Spring has sprung!

Blog post by Gert Corfield 

A glorious morning! Carrying out a  spring bird survey produced 39 species with up to 9 Chiffchaff calling their name – a good number and showing that these birds have well and truly arrived from their North African winter home. Also nice to see were a Treecreeper, a Red-Legged Partridge, 2 Coal Tit, 4 Yellowhammer (one briefly singing its summer song of ‘a little bread and no cheeeese‘ !), 3 Buzzards, a Female Kestrel  and a good number of Chaffinch, Linnet and Reed Bunting.

With the morning warming up, 7 Brimstone were on the wing coming out of hibernation and quartering the hedges finding nourishment on the Blackthorn blossom. 3 Comma and a Peacock Butterfly also showed well.

A cluster of 16 Spot Ladybird with a 7 Spot (and a Wolf Spider lurking) which have overwintered in leaf litter were warming up in the sun.

Lesser Celandines, Primroses and WhiteSweet Violets made up the botanical spring cast.

Butterfly Walk

Blog post by Gert Corfield
On the 11th August, the farm hosted another Butterfly walk, timed to coincide with the emergence of the Brown Hairstreak.
The moth trap was set the evening before but after weeks of hot weather the night saw cold and clear conditions with the result that not a single moth deigned to visit the trap!
Mothless for the next morning’s guests, we set off late morning to sunny but windy conditions.
The first Butterfly Spotted was a Large White and we left the farm track a small brown Butterfly settled quickly on a hawthorn hedge. Thinking it was a Gatekeeper it turned out to be a freshly emerged female Brown Hairstreak!
It lingered for a while giving everyone the opportunity to have a good look and take photographs.
We ventured on to the margins where Knapweed was still in flower and Common Blues, Brown Argus and Meadow Brown which have seen a good year did not disappoint. A few Small Copper also showed well as did Large and Small Skipper.
Unfortunately, Painted Lady and Clouded yellow which had been present the previous week did not make an appearance but the showy Brown Hairstreak more than made up for it.
The full list of Butterflies seen in order of abundance where;
Small White
Green Veined White
Large White
Meadow Brown
Common Blue
Brown Argus
Large Skipper
Gatekeeper
Small Skipper
Speckled Wood
Small Copper
Comma
Ringlet
Red Admiral
Small Tortoiseshell
Peacock
Brown Hairstreak

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Wild Hollowfields!

We were thrilled to have accomplished actress Eloise Secker leading a theatre workshop on the farm! With her skilful, yet playful approach to Shakespeare and intuitive response to the group, Eloise made this workshop an absolute joy with fantastic feedback from everyone.

Eloise Secker is an actress and theatre maker from Norfolk. She has worked in the industry for over 10 years for companies such as the Royal Shakespeare company, the Young Vic Theatre and the BBC among others. We’re really looking forward to future events on the farm with Eloise!

 

 

Celebrating International Dawn Chorus day!

Blog post by Gert
On Saturday the 12th May the farm hosted another popular early morning bird walk. This was in celebration of International Dawn Chorus day, although we started at a more reasonable time of 7.30am!
As it turned out this was a good time as the number of birds singing were not as overwhelming as it might have been earlier in the day, allowing a better appreciation of individual bird song.We were treated to the songs of Yellowhammer, Blackcap and the clear song of the Chiffchaff. Whitethroat was very active and sang well from the mature hedgerows and we were treated to hearing a Lesser Whitethroat at close quarters although unsurprisingly for this secretive species it didn’t show itself!
The Cuckoo eventually performed at the end of the walk. It’s been very vocal all spring, probably eyeing up Dunnock nests to lay it’s egg in.
Ravens were cronking, once again nesting in one of the pine trees and Skylarks sang throughout the walk. We also had the opportunity to study the song of the Willow Warbler and get clear views of it through a scope where we were able to see the slight differences in identification to a Chiffchaff, although it’s song being the best way to separate the two species.
The biggest surprise, however, was a Whinchat perched on one of the hedges clearly showing it’s obvious white eye stripe. A bird of the uplands and a migrant, it had probably only recently arrived and was passing through, so we were very lucky to pick it up. It’s also became a new species for the farm’s bird list at number 83!
We ended the walk with a look at the hay meadow which was just coming into it’s own and were treated to a handsome Roe Deer buck looking at us looking at him.

Autumn into Winter

Blog post by Jan  
The corn has been harvested and left the farm.  The new crops are planted, a wheat, bean and fallow rotation.  The flower margins have made hay and are looking smart!  Wild bird seed mix is standing well and will feed flocks of up to a hundred goldfinches and the other hungry birds overwinter.  Hedge berries and fallows will carry lifesaving food.  Small mammals will shelter in the wide hedge bottoms and brown hairstreak eggs mature on the blackthorn.  
Butterfly Conservation  will help us to work out a hedge cutting plan to protect our hairstreak colony.  
We will clear the footpaths and work in the fields, finding the balance between management and preservation.  The cows will winter in the barn, the sheep will graze safely and I will take a moment to stand in the winter silence by the ice covered wetland.

Archaeology and Wildlife Event

August 2017

A lovely walk  led by archaeologist Emily Hathaway and the Wild Hollowfields team, discovering the archaeological secrets that lie beneath our feet. As well as visiting some of the historic features of the farm, Emily, with kind permission from our neighbours, led us around the Scheduled Ancient Monument next door.   On the wildlife side, children were completely engrossed when dissecting one of the farm’s barn owl pellets with Tony Barnby!

Wild About Words!

August 19th 2017

We were thrilled to have poet James Carter here at the farm for his madcap sessions. James performed some wild guitar music as well as a bunch of poems from his collections. Published by Macmillan, Bloomsbury and Walker Books, James is a well established poet and we love his performances! Brilliantly entertained, adults and children had a wonderful time.