This is due to its small field sizes, the large number of ancient hedgerows and numerous woods coupled with areas of marshland. All the land at the farm is in various agri-environment schemes. SongBird Survival entered a partnership with Blackmoor Farm over 20 years ago to understand the effects of environmental stewardship on breeding bird populations.
This project is unlike any others we have conducted at SongBird Survival. The aim was to analyse a block of land at Blackmoor Farm as part of a long-term SBS study. The decline of farmland birds is a major issue worldwide, and following agricultural intensification, many species have dwindled, and some even disappeared from areas of our landscape. Since 2002. SBS and Blackmoor farm have conducted yearly bird counts at this location following BTO’s Common Birds Census methodology. Every year, eight surveys are carried out weekly during April-June where hedgerows and paths on the farm are walked, and singing birds, pairs, and territories are noted and their locations plotted on maps.
Various environmental schemes are utilised at Blackmoor Farm and the following are used to try and enhance biodiversity:
There needs to be a balance where providing food for our growing population doesn’t have to mean vast areas of monoculture, or farmers losing out. With a few changes, nature can be welcomed back to our rural landscapes and encouraged to thrive.
David Attenborough said: “The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water, and air. It is the most precious thing we have, and we need to defend it.”
Batáry, P., Dicks, L.V., Kleijn, D., Sutherland, W.J. (2015) The role of agri-environment schemes in conservation and environmental management. Conservation Biology. 29(4):1006-1016.
Bright, J.A., Morris, A.J., Field, R.H., Cooke, A.I., Grice, P.V., Walker, L.K., Fern, J., Peach, W.J. (2015) Higher-tier agri-environment scheme enhances breeding densities of some priority farmland birds in England. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 203: 69-79.
McHugh, N.M., White, P.J.C., Moreby, S., Szczur, J., Stoate, C., Leather, S.R., Holland, J.M. (2022) Linking agri-environment scheme habitat area, predation and the abundance of chick invertebrate prey to the nesting success of a declining farmland bird. Ecological solutions and evidence. 3(2): e12155. https://doi.org/10.1002/2688-8319.12155
Staggenborg, J., Anthes, N. (2022) Long-term fallows rate best among agri-environment scheme effects on farmland birds—A meta-analysis. Conservation Letters. e12904, https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12904
Vickery, J. A., Bradbury, R. B., Henderson, I. G., Eaton, M. A., Grice, P. V. (2004). The role of agri-environment schemes and farm management practices in reversing the decline of farmland birds in England. Biological conservation. 119(1): 19-39.
Walker, L.K., Morris, A.J., Cristinacce, A., Dadam, D., Grice, P.V., Peach, W.J. (2018) Effects of higher-tier agri-environment scheme on the abundance of priority farmland birds. Animal Conservation. 21(3): 183-192.
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