National Nest Box Week was established and developed by the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) to provide a focus on nesting birds and to support their conservation and local biodiversity. It encourages the placement of nest boxes in your local area, at a time when small birds traditionally pair up ahead of the breeding season.
Natural nest sites such as holes in trees or old buildings are disappearing fast, so our native birds need all the help they can get to find a safe spot to breed. Birds may even use the nest box year-round, roosting cosily in it during the winter months. More...
We know that 2021 hasn't got off to the best of starts, but this weekend we all have something to look forward to - the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch! This is an event that the whole Really Wild Bird Food team looks forward to each year, and you should too.
This is a great opportunity to get your family members out into the garden for an hour to discover the wildlife that lives alongside us. We know it's a bit chilly, but grab a coat, a hot chocolate and pop outside for just an hour. More...
There are a lot of bird enthusiasts who love the idea of photographing birds but have no idea where to start. If this sounds like you, don't worry, you're not alone. Wildlife photography is a fine art and some photographers will focus solely on photographing birds for years before they finally get their dream shot.
That being said, with the right equipment, patience and a little bit of practice, complete beginners can capture some stunning photographs of birds. More...
NEWS FROM THE FARM
As I write this, there have been snow flurries here in the south and the temperature has certainly dropped by a few degrees.
October was a lovely month for us; dry and warm, which meant our cover crops grew really well. Our buckwheat flowered for a long time providing some very welcome late nectar for the bees. However buckwheat doesn't like cold weather and it has started to fall over now. The linseed was somewhat slower to flower so didn't provide much late-season help for the bees.
This was Richard's first home produced cover crop and he is very pleased with the mix ratios of the various plants that he put together. This particular cover crop contained the following: oats, phacelia, linseed, buckwheat and sunflowers. Each element with a specific function, contributing to improved soil quality and stability.
- Oats have a deep fine root which hold nitrogen and potash in the soil, and when the plant dies off it provides lots of organic matter for worms, so we see huge numbers of worm casts everywhere :)
- The phacelia will flower for the bees and it also has a shallow, fibrous root which gives a nice tilth for the soil.
- Linseed will flower and its deep root really helps with soil drainage.
- Buckwheat offers a late pollen source for bees and is a good phosphate recoverer. All clever stuff!
This is the first year Richard has direct-drilled his wheat and it is also looking really good. He had previous problems with soil compaction, so this time he ran a sub-soiler with new 'low-disturbance' legs to minimise soil compaction and the wheat looks really well as a result.
BIRDLIFE SPOTTED ON THE FARM
The use of all these cover crops on the farm seems to be having a really positive effect on the birdlife here, which is fantastic news and really heartwarming.
This month we have hosted a large flock of Golden Plover, and Snipe and Woodcock have also been seen. The biggest excitement came when Richard spotted a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - a reclusive bird that hasn't been seen on the farm for a few years - so we're delighted to know they are in our woods. These photos are obviously not the actual birds because we don't have the photographic skills (or speed of reaction!) to get great shots but nice to visualise what I am talking about.
For the full story, please visit this blog post to read all about Golden Plover.