Butterfly Walk

Blog post by Gert Corfield

On Saturday the 15th August the farm hosted a Butterfly walk to look for the many species of Butterflies on the farm. The intrepid explorers set off in the afternoon to see what was on the wing. The previous day saw heavy rain all day and Saturday was a bit cooler than was hoped for but temperatures rose slightly and the wind dropped which made for good conditions. Before the arrival of guests a quick tour of the best areas were explored and despite not finding them the previous two weekends a freshly emerged female Brown Hairstreak was located along the lane feeding sedately on a thistle! We hoped it would hang around for the afternoon and as it turned out she stayed on the same thistle for over two hours giving close views to all. A truly magical (and unusual for the elusive Brown Hairstreak) experience!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then proceeded to walk the wide field margins sown with wildflower seed mixes to look for other species. The swathes of Knapweed, Bird’s-foot-trefoil, Horseshoe Vetch, Linseed, and other late summer flowers produced 14 other species of Butterfly! The final list was comprised of; Comma Green Veined White Small White Large White Meadow Brown Gatekeeper Speckled Wood Common Blue Brown Argus Small Skipper Essex Skipper Ringlet Small Tortoiseshell Small Copper The Butterflies posed well for the cameras, particularly the many Brown Argus and Common Blue. A few Silver Y Moths were also found and a couple of Roesel’s Bush Crickets – not a common sight! The afternoon was rounded off with several rounds of cake and refreshments. A successful event and testament to the success of the wildlife friendly features on the farm.

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Photos: copyright Gert Corfield

A gathering of experts- June 2015

On June 14th the sun came out and we were wonderfully supported for our open afternoon by speakers including archaeologist Emily Hathaway from the  Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, Mike Williams from the West Midlands branch of Butterfly Conservation and Gert Corfield, RSPB bird surveyor whose blog entries and fantastic photos on this website you may already be familiar with.
We were delighted to be joined leading walks by Caroline Corsie from The Worcestershire Wildlife Trust’s Smite Farm and John Tilt, manager of the Grafton Wood nature reserve jointly owned by the Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation. Sarah Corfield was also present representing the Artrix, Bromsgrove’s arts and theatre venue.
Much needed strawberries and cream followed farm walks, while our canvas marquee with hay bales, bubbles and a huge collaborative painting meant the children didn’t want to go home.
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Close-up from section of collaborative painting

Dawn Chorus Event

Blog post by Gert Corfield

On Sunday morning we held a Dawn Chorus walk on the farm to celebrate International Dawn Chorus day which had been rained off the previous week.
Conditions were perfect at 4.30am! The hardy participants set off stopping off at various points on the farm to enjoy the building chorus of song birds.
The first to sing was the Robin by the farmhouse, closely followed by a Skylark in the distance. In the old Orchard we enjoyed the different calls of a Song Thrush which helpfully repeated every call two or three times.
Blackbirds, Dunnocks and Wren sang in profusion with a couple of Tawny Owl calling.
In the hay meadow a Whitethroat sang its bursts of scratchy song from the mature hedges and then a Lesser Whitethroat further along. Time was spent differentiating the two songs with the obvious rattle of the Lesser Whitethroat making it easy. A couple of laughing Green Woodpeckers were preceded by ever growing numbers of Chiffchaff singing their name!We could make out the Blackcaps fruity warble and as the sun rose a brief burst of Willow Warbler song.
Bird song was complemented by good views of Roe Deer and 6 Brown Hare stretching and getting ready for the day. The pair of Raven called a deep croak and Chaffinch & Linnet song were differentiated. A Skylark was closely observed singing high over a field and when it dropped like a stone to the ground we all gave it a round of applause so marvellous was the display.
After a couple of hours we returned to the farmhouse for a welcome hot drink and pastries past a splendid male Yellowhammer who was more interested in a ‘little bit of bread and no cheeeeese’ ! A wonderful morning experiencing one of natures great spectacle.

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Two new species added to the Farm Bird list!

Blog post by Gert Corfield

A couple of Winter bird surveys on the farm produced two new additions to the ever growing bird list! The stream running through the farm is attracting overwintering Teal. First a pair and then five seen flying out of one of the stiller pools. These lovely dabbling Ducks over winter in good numbers in the South and West of the UK and some come from as far as the baltic and Siberia. It has certainly felt very Siberian with sub zero temperatures during the early morning surveys!

15788124034_193b2bbda7_kLinnet, Chaffinch flock       photo: copyright Gert Corfield 2015

Another wonderful visitor was a male Merlin, seen on consecutive weekends pursuing the many Linnets feeding on the winter bird crop and a large flock of over wintering Meadow Pipits. It’s our smallest bird of prey – a bit like a pocket sized Peregrine! It was seen carrying what was probably a Meadow Pipit and on another occasion flying low with rapid wing beats towards another flock of Finches like a slaty blue rocket.These lovely little birds of prey increase in numbers in winter boosted by birds coming from Iceland to our warmer climate as well as from uplands in the UK to spend winter in the lowlands. So thanks to these far flung visitors the farm bird list now stands at 82 not least thanks to the environmental measures on the farm.

Other birds of note have been up to 4 Snipe, 3 Woodcock, a Peregrine and flocks of 15 to 20 Skylark in the winter stubble. Brown Hare have been showing in ones & twos and the Roe Deer have been very visible.  The latter are showing their antlers (which start growing in December) still with their fury covering ( velvet ) in readiness for the spring.

16410540685_3531f3f9d9_kRoe Deer      photo: copyright Gert Corfield

Butterfly Conservation find over 400 Brown Hairstreak butterfly eggs on the farm!

Simon Primrose, Mike Williams and their team from the West Midlands branch of Butterfly Conservation have been recording Brown Hairstreak butterfly eggs on the farm. A huge amount of work was involved, studying vast lengths of hedges. Their final count came to a staggering 419 eggs for the East side of the site. They have mapped out their locations to guide our hedgerow management for this half of the farm. Their advice and guidance is invaluable.

Elsewhere they have been monitoring other local sites such as Grafton wood jointly owned by Butterfly Conservation and Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, the electricity sub-station near Feckenham and two of the other Wildlife Trust reserves. http://www.worcswildlifetrust.co.uk/news/2014/10/31/butterfly-home-secured

More information about West Midlands Butterfly Conservation and a more detailed account of the egg finds for this rare butterfly can be found in the latest edition of their magazine Comma:

http://westmidlands-butterflies.org.uk/newsletters/Comma%2090%20Winter%202014-15-spreads.pdf

http://butterfly-conservation.org

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Brown Hairstreak butterfly egg, magnified. Photo: Gert Corfield 2014

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Brown Hairstreak butterfly. Photo: Gert Corfield

Helping the birds through the tough times

Blog post by Gert Corfield

With winter rapidly approaching the fields and margins on the farm planted with a mix of plants designed to provide seed and cover for birds are starting to come into their own.

A survey a couple of weeks ago found over 100 Linnets with a few Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer present feeding on the seed heads in one particular field sown with a bird food crop earlier in the year. This crop plus the wide field margins, and fields left fallow will sustain good numbers of birds through the winter.

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A rather handsome male Reed Bunting Photo: Gert Corfield

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Some of the 100 or so Linnet. Photo: Gert Corfield

 

Birds, hedges and the Brown Hairstreak butterfly!

Blog post by Gert Corfield

Through the RSPB’s Volunteer & Farmer Alliance initiative Gert has been surveying the birds on the farm for the last few years. Gert continues to keep a check on the species visiting and breeding on the farm to help gauge the success of the environmental improvements being carried out.

It’s been a long summer and the results are clear to see in the hedges. There are lots of berries in the hedges on the farm at present. Sloe’s, Hawes and the beautiful pink and orange of the Spindle amongst others.
So we’re ready for the winter Thrushes. Redwings have arrived, Blackbirds and Song Thrush numbers are increasing. The rattle of the Mistle Thrush gives its presence away and we eagerly await the arrival of the handsome Fieldfare. Any day now. And Sloe’s aren’t only benefiting the Thrushes.

The Blackthorn hedges which produce them on the farm are also managed for a very special Butterfly indeed. The Brown Hairstreak.

 

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Sloes and Hawes Photo: Gert Corfield

Fieldfare Photo: Gert Corfield

Fieldfare
Photo: Gert Corfield

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A visit from West Midlands Butterfly Conservation
October 27th,2014

Blog post by Jo

Simon Primrose and Mike Williams from West Midlands Butterfly Conservation visited the farm yesterday to advise us on Blackthorn hedgerow management for the Brown Hairstreak butterfly. They have been monitoring the Brown Hairstreak on the farm, in 2014 counting over 100 eggs on one small area and identifying a potential assembly tree.

http://www.westmidlands-butterflies.org.uk

Brown Hairstreak Photo: Gert Corfield

Brown Hairstreak at Wild Hollowfields
Photo: Gert Corfield

Brown Hairstreak egg Photo-Gert Corfield

Brown Hairstreak egg
Photo: Gert Corfield