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Fledgling bird on the ground

If you see a baby bird on the ground - all alone and seemingly abandoned by its parents - your first instinct may be to offer the fledgling a helping hand.

However, in most cases, you should not intervene. Yes, it's hard not to feel sorry for a young bird who appears to be struggling, but your attempt to assist may end up interfering with a critical stage of the fledgling's development. Birds have to learn to stand on their own two feet and fly on their own two wings!

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Bee on a sunflower

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has devastated the UK in many different ways. We've mourned tens of thousands of deaths. The country's GDP has fallen by more than 20 per cent. Unemployment has soared. Children have missed months of school, and families have been unable to spend time together.

But if all that bad news has made you desperate for a silver lining, here it is: the Great Lockdown of 2020 appears to have been quite beneficial for UK wildlife.

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These last few months have been very stressful for many people as we have had to adjust to dramatic lifestyle changes, some of which have been incredibly tough, and we are hoping that easier times are around the corner for us all.

Our farm crops are all suffering the stress of this long drought period, and they are all trying to save water the best way they can. The hot weather, combined with many days of really high winds has really reduced the relative humidity of the air. The wheat is showing significant 'leaf curl' - an ingenious way to reduce the plant surface area and hence evaporative loss but we are really hoping rain is on it's way. It is incredible to think that those are the same plants that survived drowning during the severe flooding we had in the Autumn! The real extremes of weather that seem to be becoming 'the norm' are certainly a challenge and no two years are ever the same.

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Pigeon

Pigeons are the bullies of many a back garden. They are significantly bigger than most garden birds, and they often use their size advantage to monopolise our seed feeders and hog all the food for themselves.

If you're tired of chasing pigeons away from your bird table, there are a number of steps you can take to deter them. Follow these helpful tips from the Really Wild Bird Food team...

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Garden hedgehog

It's currently Hedgehog Awareness Week (3rd - 9th May 2020), and if you're looking for ways to look after these spiny sweethearts, you're in the right place.

Hedgehogs are still a fairly common sight in the UK, but their numbers are thought to be declining. Life can be a bit dangerous for a garden hedgehog - every November, we're reminded to check for hedgehogs before lighting the Guy Fawkes Night bonfire, but why stop at that? There are plenty of other things you can do to make the world a friendlier place for these much-loved creatures.

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We left behind 6 months of the wettest weather ever and last week the ground was baked dry after all the amazing recent sunshine we have had. One extreme to the other!

Some of our wheat on the heavier clay drowned and died, but there isn't much we can do about that now; just nurture the surviving crops in the best way we can. Those who follow my news will know what a torrid time Richard was having with cabbage stem flea beetle attack on our oil seed rape. I can now show you the effect that a cabbage stem flea beetle infestation has on a rape crop!

Rape field after cabbage stem flea beetle attack

Our rape field after an attack

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rain over farm
 
January Farm News is still dominated by the wet weather and the impact 4 months of continuous rain has had on our crops.
 
Sian's Dad records the daily rainfall and December '19 was the wettest in 34 years of recording. As you can see  25.23" fell from September to December; it's no wonder our crops are drowning! More...

news from the farm

It was a harvest of two halves. A dry spell, followed by three weeks of rain and then the sun came out again. Those three weeks of continuous rain were not happy weeks for farmers and our nerves were shredded as we waited to see what impact the bad weather would have on our crops.

However, we were not as badly affected as other areas of the UK, especially Yorkshire, where one poor farmer had his whole farmyard washed away by torrents of water. More...

Today is the first day of the Butterly Conservation's 'Big Butterfly Count 2019' and this year it's running until 11th August (plenty of time to get involved!)

All you have to do is find a place to sit for 15 minutes and record the number of butterflies of each species that you see, plus two species of day-flying moth. 

There are a few places that are particularly good if you want to look for butterflies including your garden, a park or a wooded area. More...

Richard finished spring planting yesterday, with the red millet going in well. The canary seed was planted about a month ago but has been struggling in the dry soil conditions.

The beans are looking strong, but they too need a good drink. Richard planted them deeper this year to help the roots find the moisture.

Planting the millet in these very dry conditions is a risk - the seeds need to be deep enough to find moisture, but not too deep or they won't grow at all! More...