by Mike Kettlewell
The NE Cotswold Farmer Cluster is now constituted after a period of gestation and has got off to a great start. Half of the farms have already joined in winter supplementary feeding for farmland birds, enabled and funded through a 3 year FiPL grant secured by Tim in December.
It was quite a rush to get started but 26 tonnes of suitable feed was sourced rapidly from within the cluster, crushed, mixed and bagged in 1.5 tonne loads, by Matt and Nathan Izod, for collection by the 20 farmers new to supplementary feeding. A fantastic start that means 29 farms in our area are now feeding these farmland specialists that have been in such trouble recently.
9 sites in higher-level Stewardship agreements that included supplementary feeding had already started in November and these farms are being surveyed to get cluster baseline late winter data, which will be provided once completed. This is to build on for the next two years, once all 29 farms have sorted feeding to best effect for their own sites. It is not as easy as it might appear at first, but an afternoon visit recently to Sam Sandberg’s farm showed how quickly one could see gratifying results.
A great excitement for us here in the Cotswolds is being able to team up with the internationally renowned ecologists of WildCRU and Oxford’s department of Zoology to study the effects of feeding and, I hope, undertake some new research to optimize our efforts. You never know; we might become national leaders in ecological restoration!
Photo credits to Will Dennis and Mike Kettlewell