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By Mara on December 13, 2014
We have been lucky to be part of an ambitious project to increase the very small breeding
population of Kestrels in Ceredigion. Though still common in England, less than a hundred
pairs breed in Wales. A limiting factor locally is thought to be a lack of suitable nest sites
and with this in mind the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales has since 2008 been
installing boxes throughout the county.
Mike Hayward, Richard Hartnup and Steve Cuttle have now installed a box at Denmark Farm and
we are hoping that the rodent rich grassland might be able to support a pair. All we can do
now is wait with fingers crossed. Even if Kestrels are not attracted to the site other species
such as Owls, Jackdaws or Stock Doves might find them ideal.
Time will tell.
Another project currently running is ‘Bird Box for Life’. We are desperate to replace some of our many missing and damaged nest boxes around the site, particularly to provide boxes for Pied Flycatchers, Spotted Flycatchers and Tawny Owls. We are offering you an opportunity to sponsor a bird nest box at Denmark Farm as a gift for a wildlife loving friend. There is a choice of styles of bird boxes to attract different species and we’ll even monitor and provide feedback for an optional extra. We have already bought three new boxes with thanks to our generous supporters and planning to install these in time for the next breeding season.
By Jan Martin on December 3, 2014
Many thanks to Gaby Grace (our longest-serving trustee) for this introduction to the origins and early history of The Shared Earth Trust at Denmark Farm:
It all began in 1984 when Barbara and Neil Taylor bought Denmark Farm and suffered deep disappointment at finding no blackberries and hearing no birdsong. A soil expert told them they should poison the moles which were damaging the grass and Barbara found herself replying ‘No, we couldn’t do that; it’s their farm as well as ours. They were here before us and they’ve got to make a living too’. That thought grew into a conviction that the land – the Earth – is shared and they began a programme of reversing the destruction of wildlife habitat which had taken place. So in 1987 the Shared Earth Trust was born to establish and run a long-term conservation project at Denmark Farm – a ‘haven for wildlife’.
The founding Trustees were Doctors Anthony and Maggie Barker and during the first four years the work developed almost entirely through volunteers like them who gave time and money. The vision was to bring back the common species which ought to be found on any piece of farmed Welsh countryside – blackbirds, robins, bluebells, primroses, small tortoiseshell and common blue butterflies. The results were spectacular! In 1985 only 15 species of bird bred on the farm – by 1994 this had risen to 48 species. This was a pioneering case-study in what could be done anywhere; turning a ‘green desert’ into living countryside. Tragically the Barkers were knocked off their tandem and killed in 1993 but two years later the Barker Memorial Centre was opened. Then in 1997 the Trust took over ownership of the farm and work began on converting existing out-buildings into an education centre and dormitory.
One purpose of Denmark Farm was to establish a better relationship between food production and biological diversity; conservation and making a living have to go hand in hand. The vision was that all farms might have a ‘little bit of Denmark Farm’ somewhere – an idea well ahead of its time. Through all this there has always been a profound respect for wildlife and an awareness of a spiritual dimension; human beings are part of the natural world, interlinked and interdependent. And that striving for real health – physical, mental and spiritual – still undergirds all that we do.
Read more about the history and development of Denmark Farm.
Give a gift that gives twice Sponsor a Bird Bird at Denmark Farm.
By Aline Denton on November 25, 2014
Many of us have probably considered how nice it would be to hibernate for the winter, curling up somewhere cosy before the first frosts take hold then waking up as the Spring sunshine warms the ground. For dormice, a long winter hibernation is the reality, and they are now curled up in their nests on the woodland floor until next April or May.
This gives us the opportunity to do some winter house-keeping on their behalf, and on Sunday 7th December’s Volunteer Day we will be doing some maintenance to our dormouse boxes, and installing some new dormouse nest tubes around Denmark Farm.
Some of the new tubes will be installed in an area of hazel at the bottom of the site. Dormouse are arboreal and spend most of their time in the canopy. They therefore need good habitat ‘connectivity’ to enable them to move around between nest and feeding sites without coming to the ground. Our hazel copse appears to be an ideal spot – although dormouse rarely read the text books and sometimes have their own views about habitat suitability!
There are very few known dormice populations in Ceredigion, so we were excited to find a hazel nut, nibbled in the distinctive manner of the dormouse, a few years ago. So far we have not found further evidence of their presence, but are keen to give them a helping hand and are still hopeful that we may find one during our regular dormouse box checks.
We have 50 wooden dormouse boxes around site, and around 20 nest tubes, and to prolong their life they need a regular winter clean-out. Although we do not yet have dormice using the boxes, we are providing a home for a variety of other wildlife, including blue tits and wood mice who all fill the boxes with an array of materials which can go a bit damp and mouldy over the winter. We also replace any loose fastenings, clean drainage holes, and check that the box is not damaging the tree.
Wood mice create a nest of dead leaves while dormice weave a nest from honeysuckle bark. They also put a few leaves around the outside of the nest, so before we clean the boxes out we have a gentle feel around inside the nest box first, to identify the nest and check if it is in current use (dormouse are a species protected by law, and a licence is needed from NRW/ Natural England before handling or disturbing dormice). The boxes were installed by the ‘Mammals in a Sustainable Environment’ project, and we continue to work closely with them to monitor the boxes at least twice a year.
To give us a hand with this essential winter task, and to find out more about one of Britain’s cutest mammals, join us on Sunday 7th December from 10 am to 4 pm (or as long as you can spare). There will be an indoor presentation about their ecology and habitat requirements, but we will be outside for much of the day, so bring warm and waterproof clothing and footwear.
By Mara on November 21, 2014
The period between November and New Year is the best time to install new bird boxes and check existing ones. Birds will often start to inspect prospective sights by late winter. Of course, you can make your own but a wide range of types can be purchased designed to attract different species.
If you are putting them up in your garden there is no point in putting too many up as the birds simply won’t breed at those densities. Boxes suitable for Tits should be no lower than 2m from the ground but make sure they are still at an accessible height for you personally. There must be a clear flight path to the entrance. Open fronted boxes (for Robins, Wrens and Wagtails) can be placed low down however and sited amongst undergrowth. If, as at Denmark Farm, you hope to attract Spotted Flycatchers to one of these open boxes you will need to situate it in the same sort of position as a Tit box.
Try and site your boxes facing between North and East away from prevailing wind and rain as well as midsummer sun. This is less of an issue in enclosed woodlands. I’ve always used galvanised nails to fix them but screws or wire work just as well. Don’t forget also to clear out your boxes each autumn. This makes them more appealing as nest sites as well as reducing a build- up of parasites.
In the past, there have been as many as a hundred boxes at Denmark Farm and perhaps the most significant species they have supported is the Pied Flycatcher, with up to twenty pairs breeding. Unfortunately, many of these boxes are in a state of disrepair and will need replacing in future years if this iconic summer migrant is to continue to thrive. This year, limited funds have been spent on four long lasting woodcrete boxes for its endangered relative, the Spotted Flycatcher, which in 2014 chose to breed in the flue of the wood burner in the yurt.
How would you like to support the birds at Denmark Farm and at the same time get a truly original gift for your nature loving friend or family member?
By Mara on November 13, 2014
To celebrate the festive season, and to raise funds for our continued conservation work, on Wednesday 10th December at 7pm Denmark Farm Conservation Centre will be opening its doors to friends and supporters for a fantastic evening of local produce, drinks, music and magic.
Our little event is part of a larger movement around Wales promoting local food for Terra Madre Day, all co-ordinated by Slow Food Cymru.
We have been caring for nature for almost 30 years. In addition to looking after our unique 40 acre nature reserve, we’ve supported local communities and individuals to learn about, connect with and protect their environment. Hundreds of local children regularly experience nature by taking part in our activities and days out at Denmark Farm. Conservation professionals and those seeking to live more sustainably gain valuable training by taking part in our courses. People from the local community access our nature reserve for recreation and leisure.
All in all we’re very proud of all our achievements. However, we are always in need of support and this event is just one way you can help us continue our work.
The evening will include a delicious buffet of local produce and drinks. There will be entertainment: sweet music and song from Georgia Owen, the talented magician Luke Jugglestruck to keep us enthralled plus a chance to pick up some lovely local produce Christmas presents. We’ll also be launching our ‘Sponsor a bird box at Denmark Farm’ project and selling tickets for our grand raffle.
Why not join us and celebrate the festive season naturally?
Tickets are £15 per person and limited in number.
Please call us on 01570 493358 or e-mail email@example.com if you’d like to buy tickets.
We have been lucky to be part of an ambitious project to increase the very small breeding population of Kestrels in Ceredigion. Though still common in England, less than a hundred pairs breed in Wales. A limiting factor locally is thought to be a lack of suitable nest sites and with this in mind the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales has since 2008 been installing boxes throughout the county. Read more about the WTSWW North Ceredigion Kestrel Project Mike Hayward, Richard Hartnup and Steve Cuttle have now installed a box at Denmark Farm and we are hoping that the rodent rich grassland might be able to support a pair. All we can do now is wait with fingers crossed. Even if Kestrels are not attracted to the site other species such as […]... Read More »
Many thanks to Gaby Grace (our longest-serving trustee) for this introduction to the origins and early history of The Shared Earth Trust at Denmark Farm: It all began in 1984 when Barbara and Neil Taylor bought Denmark Farm and suffered deep disappointment at finding no blackberries and hearing no birdsong. A soil expert told them […]... Read More »