Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Glandford Finch Invasion, or The Very Hungry Carduelis

Since moving to our new shop at the top of the yard we have been enjoying some spectacular sights of large flocks of finches and buntings feeding on the field behind. In addition to the more common greenfinch and chaffinch, there have been dozens of reed bunting, bramblings and redpolls, occasional tree sparrows and linnets numbering in hundreds. This diversity and quantity of seed-eating birds is not often seen in the twenty-first century and is usually just a nostalgic memory of the veteran birder's childhood in a pre green revolution countryside.


A feast for finches

The seed-rich crop behind the Glandford shop.
   So why are they here? Well, it comes down to food. To stand a chance of surviving the cold winter small birds need to have access to a reliable supply of high-energy food, and the crop in the field behind the shop provides just that. As part of the Bayfield Estate's Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement this field was sown with a mixed crop of seed-baring plants including sunflowers, millet, buckwheat, fat hen, linseed and kale. This crop will be left standing for two years and in the next few months the seeds missed by the birds will be germinating to become next winters banquet. Schemes like the HLS are helping to slow and in some cases reverse the appalling decline in farmland birds across Europe and when coupled with conservation-minded management, as here at Bayfield, they can recover sights and sounds of the countryside that could so easily have been lost for ever.

We have been tempting a few chaffinches, greenfinches and bramblings a bit closer to the back door with some of our Wild Bird Seed mix which is proving nearly as popular as the four acres of nosh in the field!

The reliable supply of birds has proved very useful for our customers when testing bins and scopes because they give an opportunity to use the kit 'in the field' before they buy. As I type this I am watching a male reed bunting moulting into its black head markings through the new Leica Trinovid 8x42 ( Is a few corn buntings to much to ask for?

There are photos and videos of some of the birds and the field on our Flickr site

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