The CRT’s Herefordshire Farms

The CRT owns 2 farms in Herefordshire: Awnells and Turnastone Court, both of which are teeming with wildlife.

At Awnells Farm, insects thrive in the organic orchard and form an important food source for the bird population nesting there (little owl, redstart, starling, great tit and blue tit). While the network of dense species-rich hedgerows are valuable for farmland birds (grey partridge, yellowhammer and house sparrow). The traditional unconverted farm buildings provide roosting sites for different species of bat including the long-eared bat and birds such as swallows and house martins nest there. In addition, the presence of several ponds around the farm supports a healthy population of great crested newts; an important pond indicator species, as well as mayflies, dragonflies and damselflies.

At Turnastone Court Farm the rich mosaic of habitats provides a home for a diverse range of wildlife. The pasture and arable fields provide breeding sites for ground nesting birds (lapwing, curlew and skylark). The small mammals present also provide a rich feeding ground for barn owls, and other raptors. The presence of hedgerows connecting woodland sites at Turnastone supports an important dormouse population; a small mammal that has suffered a severe decline in recent years. These hedgerows also form important feeding corridors and flight lines for many species of bats such as the lesser horseshoe and pipistrelle. Turnastone also has many veteran and old trees within its landscape and the wildflower meadows have over 30 species of native wildflowers and grasses. The unpolluted rivers and streams on the farm support otter, water vole and important fish species such as brown trout and bullheads.

However, at the CRT we don’t believe in resting on our laurels. There is always work to be carried out to improve our wildlife habitats and Viv Geen, our Herefordshire Monitoring Officer has been busy! She recently erected a little owl box in the orchard at Awnells Farm with help from David Coker from the BTO. She also installed an anti-drowning platform in the cattle’s water trough nearby. Sadly a little owl drowned in the trough whilst bathing a few years ago; the platform will therefore allow any owls to get out safely while allowing the Traditional Hereford cattle to carry on drinking.

At Turnastone, Viv erected 4 new nest boxes along a corridor in the wood pasture again with David Coker of the BTO. It is hoped this year that pied flycatchers may take up residence. The wood pasture currently supports many pairs of breeding redstart. She also carried out a bird survey yesterday and recorded red kite at Turnastone, along with the first house martin. While yellow Bird box VGwagtail were found nesting in the old barns.

If you are interested in volunteering at either of our farms in Herefordshire, with conservation work or monitoring, then please get in touch – 01223 262999 or info@countrysiderestorationtrust.com.

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