I hope everyone has survived the storm Ciara reasonably intact. There are a few trees down but nothing too horrendous.
In spite of the rain and the wind the birds seem to be looking for nest sites and pairingup. We have various nest boxes scattered around the garden and have noticed a pair of blue tits taking great interest in one of them to the extent that they have started building a nest. We just have to hope that the weather does not now turn very cold and kill any chicks that may hatch early.
One of the benefits of having a relatively warm winter is that there seems to be a good stock of voles and mice around and so, with luck, we should have the Barn Owls nesting again on the farm. We are also waiting for the delivery of some kestrel nest boxes from the Hawk Conservancy. There is a regular Kestrel visitor to one of the houses close to the farm buildings so if the boxes are up in time he/she may be in residence.
There seem to be many more long tailed tits around this winter, I see them almost daily and have done since November and they come to the garden singly and in pairs as well as in their flocks. Did you know that the Long-tailed tit is not a Tit at all but is more closely related to the Babblers of India and SE Asia and they are also know by other names some of which are very weird i.e. Oven Bird, Long-tailed Pie, Bottle Tit, Mumruffin, Bum Barrel, Bum Towel (really!) amongst other names. A group of Long-tailed tits is called a Volery.
Rob, who works for us, has a Greater Spotted Woodpecker in residence in a rotten telegraph pole close to his house. Apparently when the pole is tapped it sticks its head out to see who is going by.
Julian has finally managed to get onto the land a drill a few fields but he is still far behind the acreage normally drilled by this time of year. The latest rainfall figures for the farm are:-
January 145.5.mm (5.9inches) and so far for February 75mm (3 inches). Obviously other areas around Bentworth may have recorded slightly different figures but it does give an idea that the ‘Big Wet’ is continuing for the time being. Will this be followed by a ‘Big Dry’ and a hosepipe ban?
Julian is still trying to get hedges cut before the end of February. However some of the hedge rows inside the fields may not be cut this year because the ground is far too wet to drive a tractor on, but as hedges are cut on a rotational basis to allow natural growth this is not necessarily a problem. Although he cannot do much field work at the moment the paper mountain seems to continue to grow on his desk in spite of spending a lot of time in the office. It is horrifying how much paperwork has to be completed for just about anything relating to the purchasing of seed, growing, storing and selling of crops plus ensuring that equipment is MOT’d , assessed and maintained.
We are planning to run another farm tour this summer. The provisional dates are the 16th and/or 17th May depending on how many people would like to be involved. If there is a lot of interest we will run a tour on both days but initially we will be taking bookings for Saturday 16th May. If you would like to be included please contact me on the following email firstname.lastname@example.org . Numbers will be limited to 20 people per trailer. We hope to be able to borrow 2 trailers.
Next month Julian will be back in the magazine.
[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]