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Supporting Farmland Birds

Part of the site at Yew View, where we have built the large new wildlife pond, is bordered by farmland. Mixed hedges and brambles form boundaries and we have seen quite a few species out in the fields.

Over the last half century, changes in land-use and management on agricultural landscapes have reduced the amount of seeds and grains available to farmland birds. This reduction in food availability has contributed to the decline in some granivorous birds including species such as yellowhammer, grey partridge, tree sparrow, corn bunting, linnet and skylark. During winter and early spring, a period that has now become known as the ‘hungry gap’, insufficient availability of seeds and grain can reduce bird-survival and also result in birds entering the breeding season in poor condition.

To improve the availability of seeds and grains on modern farms, farmers have been encouraged to leave over-winter stubbles and create food plots on their land using specially created wild bird seed mixtures. These mixtures are designed to provide a variety of seed types to benefit a range of farmland birds. However, despite the provision of these food plots, the seeds and grains they provide can run out by mid-winter, especially if the weather has been cold. To overcome this problem, farmers are now able apply for grants to provide supplemental feeding for farmland birds under the Countryside Stewardship scheme. Farmers can provide supplemental feed to farmland birds from December by spreading alongside over-winter food plots and stubbles. Feed hoppers can also be used to provide feed.

I was keen to feed the birds up in this area and possibly be able to support the farmland birds, out in these fields, that would not come into the main garden to feed. Whilst researching, I came across the Perdix website and the feeders that they produce for this purpose. I had used their ports before, to make my own feeders. We decided to order 3 of the post mounted feeders (each with 6 ports) and one that would dispense the food onto the ground.

I chose several locations for the posts, in different positions along the site boundary. Each was near hedges, trees and other cover. The kits consist of a barrel, with the port holes pre-drilled out for you. It is just a matter of screwing the posts into place.

They each come with a strong metal bracket that can be screwed into a post. The bucket then clips onto the bracket.

These were positioned along the hedge boundary

I placed a trail cam on 10 second video record, to see if we could capture some clips of the first visitors over the week.

Some of this seed will fall to the ground, but I also wanted to actively feed birds o the ground as well. Perdix produce a unit that runs on a timer and will spread seed at programmable intervals. This one took a bit more construction!

I placed this at the far end of the field in a section surrounded by dense hedge, but in an open space. I can experiment with placement of this camera and, again, I set up a trail camera to monitor what was happening.

We have ordered some recommended farmland bird seed mis from Kings Feeds, as recommended by Perdix and that will arrive next week. Until then, I put some of our existing seed mix inside, with some added millet and nyger.

I am excited to see what happens with these set-ups and I am planning to take part in the Big farmland Bird Count in February to see how many species I can see in the surrounding fields and this area. We will then have a baseline on which to assess the impact we are making in this area, over the coming months.


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