A major habitat creation and stewardship project has heralded the return of several species of rare birds including the Cuckoo and Grey Partridge to Belvoir Farm in Leicestershire.
For almost 40 years Belvoir Farm has created premium cordials and sparkling drinks on its family farm, all born from working closely with nature, respecting the countryside and supporting sustainable farming.
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s 2022 Big Farmland Bird Count started in 2014 with the goal of driving awareness in farms across the UK and creating healthier habitats for declining wild bird species. In February 2022, Ben Larter, an ornithology expert who lives on the Belvoir Farm and Keith Challen, Belvoir farm manager, recorded 47 species of bird of which seven are rare, as part of the count, which involved almost 1500 farmers who spotted some 130 species across more than 1.5 million acres in the UK.
The Belvoir bird count included Yellow Hammer, Reed Bunting, Brambling and Chaffinch. Several rare birds were spotted with the appearance of Grey Partridge, Willow Warbler and Cuckoo particular highlights.
Sustainability and ensuring as little impact as possible to the farm has long been a mission for Belvoir. Through taking a nature friendly farming approach Keith, who manages the 2800acre farm on the Lincolnshire and Leicestershire border, has delicately balanced delivering for nature and maintaining a sustainable farm business.
Keith Challen and Ben Larter inspecting the sustainable Coppice Willow on the Belvoir Farm
Keith Challen, Belvoir farm manager said:
“Small-scale conservation initiatives such as rain water harvesting and creating flower rich margins and grass buffers make such a positive difference to the environment, which all links into the bigger picture of conserving farmland bird species.
“It’s been great to hear the cuckoo on the farm at Belvoir. The project has helped provide habitat friendly areas for so many different species of bird and the results have also allowed for more scattered grazing for deer and hares.”
Dr Roger Draycott, GWCT Head of Advisory, who runs the Big Farmland Bird Count, said:
“We would like to thank everyone who took part for demonstrating that farmers and land managers can lead the way in protecting our countryside alongside effective food production.
“Every count submitted helps us to build a detailed national picture of the state of Britain’s farmland birds, allowing us to better understand what is really going on in our countryside. It clearly shows that farmers, land managers and gamekeepers care for the land they work and, given that they look after 71% of all the land in the UK, that is extremely good news for the future of our treasured bird species.”