Snow birds

The recovery of farmland birds is long term work-in-progress.  Go count some birds 5-14 Feb, support research and get away from zoom! Countryside context Make no bones about it – it’s been a tough journey. Post Second World War farmers were encouraged to become more efficient – The Archers BBC radio series was a government … Continue reading Snow birds

Fabulous farming

A sense that two farming conferences are getting closer together; although it’s fun to ‘spot the difference’, we can harvest more common ground. I caught two people hung between the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) and the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC). One had been ‘suggested’ by his boss to go to the OFC but his … Continue reading Fabulous farming

Knotty water

This post is not about flooding.  Well, not entirely. Perched on my ‘fence’, I see knotty problems that require us to swallow our partisan positions to work together while being more realistic about our needs. Perhaps I try and cram too much into blogs that conflate a number of issues but I’m going to take the liberty … Continue reading Knotty water

Crow politics

Ravens tumble over hills as I travel north for a novel workshop and south to Parliamentary meetings on biodiversity. The corvid family are well known opportunists. Optimistic even. Like the vision behind the ‘Understanding Predation’ workshops set up by Scotland’s Moorland Forum (29 organisations including RSPB, Scottish Wildlife) to ‘build a shared evidence base that critically … Continue reading Crow politics

Bunting’s hero

David Blake of Cranborne Chase AONB, Wiltshire shares his thoughts on how farmers can work together to help farmland birds and other wildlife. The South Wiltshire Farmland Bird Project (delivered by the Cranborne Chase AONB) started in 2009 designed specifically at reversing the decline of corn bunting (pic above), grey partridge, lapwing, tree sparrow, turtle … Continue reading Bunting’s hero

Martian spud

Whole countries (or even a Hollywood star on Mars) have relied on the potato. The chips were down when Matt Damon, marooned on the Red Planet, discovers his only of bag of spuds and propagates a life-saving crop within his space hut. The potato has the accolade as being the first ever crop grown in … Continue reading Martian spud

Nobel dung

Advances in vet and human medicines may have unintended consequences for the environment. A few years ago a pest controller told me that I was lucky to live in one of the UK’s most rural counties. He added that, due to the prevalence of livestock farming, worm parasites were a problem for not only cattle, … Continue reading Nobel dung

Game cuckoos

The Game Fair was a meeting place for all those interesting in the countryside. Not just in fieldsports, but in all conservation activities intrinsic to the countryside. Away from PR departments, media spinners, membership targets, HQ directives; people from conservation NGOs, farming, birding, walking, shooting, hunting, fishing, and a multitude of outdoor interests swapped anecdotal … Continue reading Game cuckoos

Nature with teeth

The excitement around rewilding must be harnessed by the widest cross-section of society, if it is to find a place as a conservation ‘tool’. To be honest, I like the idea of a few unfettered landscapes with large predatory animals lurking in the undergrowth. Untamed countryside complete with deep growl, loud snort and piercing scream. … Continue reading Nature with teeth