News from Vine House Farm

Blue Tit in Nest box. Photo: Gillian day

Blue Tit in Nest box. Photo: Gillian day

We are delighted to continue working in partnership with The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW). Vine House Farm donates £10 for every new Trust customer and 4% of every sale to WTSWW and other partner Trusts! Crucially, the donation has never been added to our prices – it’s simply something we allow for and our prices remain some of the lowest in the market.

Did you do your bit for National Nest box week?

14th -21st February (National Nest Box week) is an important month in the WILD calendar, particularly for our feathered friends. Providing nest boxes for birds in your garden is a great way to attract different species, plus it is fun and very rewarding to watch the whole process of birds first taking the box, building their nest, feeding their young, then the young emerging for the very first time. Vine House Farm have a great guide to help you get the most out of your nest boxes including which direction should a box face, when’s the best time to put one up and special nest boxes for other species. Read the whole guide here

What’s happening on the farm?

Unusually we have been able to drill spring barley in January because we’ve had such a dry winter so far. I can’t remember doing this before, however that could be because we’ve grown very little spring barley. In recent years, things have changed - we now need to have more spring crops because of a problem with blackgrass.

Bird seed is in big demand with the cold weather, so we are kept busy all through the winter months.

We have all heard too much about Brexit but we have not had many details about how it will affect agriculture. What we have heard is that the government says it will reward those farmers looking after the environment and so I am looking forward to hearing more of their plans.

Wildlife

I would normally expect the Lapwings to go south and west during the cold weather, but they are still around. Most of them during the day have been standing on the ice on one of the recently excavated gravel pits. As the light fails in the evening, they will fly to various fields in the district to feed.

We have more Buzzards and Kites about than ever. Both are supposedly carrion eaters, but only last week I was driving down to Holbeach Marsh when this bird came diving out of the sky. Just as it hit the ground a pair of Grey Partridge took off and they were soon joined by another pair and off they flew. The Buzzard was left on the ground looking around without a meal.

Every bird of prey has a different method of hunting

Kestrels for example hover when searching for a meal. The Harriers we have appear to fly lazily over the land but they are searching for something to pounce on. Merlins chase Skylarks and Meadow Pipits across open ground and Peregrines swoop on their prey. Buzzards and Kites are carrion eaters but when there is no carrion they hunt for live prey by dropping down on them.

My bird feeding has attracted Sparrowhawks. However as I am feeding near hawthorn bushes, this offers the birds some protection. Sparrowhawks fly down the sides of the hedges, hoping to pounce on a bird that is flying out of the hedge. They cannot afford to try and get a bird that is flying into a thorn hedge as the Sparrowhawk may be injured.

Farm walks start in May, tickets can be bought online or by telephone

Dates: 18th May, 15th June, 6th July, 3rd, 10th and 11th August

For more information on their range of bird seed, bird feeders or advice visit the Vine House Farm website