Saturday, March 23, 2013

Planning (and hoping) for Spring

Are you sure this is Spring? Work in progress on the fence in
arctic March weather.
With the promise of warmer weather and the breeding season starting in a few weeks time we have been getting to work in our back field. The first task is putting up a new fence along the track edge to help cut down on disturbance to the nesting and feeding birds. Being an exposed location a conventional wood panel fence would soon get flattened by the first south-westerly blast to come across the fields, so something a bit different is required. On advice from an experienced Scottish fence builder we are going for a construction of 4'' square wooded posts, half-round rails and windbreak screening fabric. This is an unconventional method but it has been tried and tested on the windswept Aberdeenshire coast so should be up to the job.

Mowing the old growth before ploughing and
resowing with the conservation mix.
On a grander scale our larger back field has been mown and ploughed in preparation for reseeding with the conservation mix of seed-baring plants to keep the overwintering finches and buntings happy and well fed later this year. This seed mix, including sunflowers, millet, buckwheat, fat hen, linseed and kale, is part of the Bayfield Estate's Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement . This crop will again be left standing for two years when the same cycle will begin in 2015. 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. During the winter of 2011-12 we were treated to the spectacular of hundreds-strong flocks of linnets and good numbers of redpoll, brambling, chaffinch and even a few tree sparrows. There will also be sea of yellow when the sunflowers bloom in the summer.

Remember this?  Come on Spring, we need some sunshine!
When the warmer weather does eventually arrive we will hopefully get a better year for insects, especially butterflies, which endured great hardship over last years cool and wet summer. Fingers crossed for a wildlife filled spring and summer.

Cley Spy

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