A few of these signs have appeared in the local fields in the last few weeks:
"Ground nesting birds"?!! "These grass margins have been created to benefit wildlife"?!! Without wanting to appear completely cynical - although I am - the most honest interpretation of this notice should be:
"Private, do not enter. PS: We have cut these field edges back in order to receive public money via Government run stewardship schemes that are designed to benefit wildlife. Creating a 5 foot wide margin is the bare minimum we can do in order to get the money, even though it will have next to no benefit for the environment"
Unfortunately there are no ground nesting birds in these grassy margins. I know as I have surveyed this area for the BTO as part of the 2007-11 Atlas. This margin is also the main tractor access for the fields, so any potential ground nesting bird would have to tolerate farm machinery rolling over it on a regular basis. If the local farmers really were concerned about ground nesting birds, they could try participating in a higher level stewardship scheme, which may actually help local wildlife. Claiming money for cutting back an access track, while at the same time planting a monoculture of wheat and oilseed and cutting back and removing set-aside and hedgerows, shows that once again the only thing that really motivates a farmer is the bottom line. This hijacking of local wildlife concerns has another purpose: to stop people wandering off the nearby public footpath. Cynical? I wish I wasn't.
But back to the Birdless realm. Two very different mornings. Friday was -2 degrees and I crunched through a hard frost, past a cracking sunrise and saw nothing but a late Redwing:
This morning, much milder and far more bird activity. 3 Corn Bunting on territory, 5+ Chiffchaffs singing away. The tiny Farmhouse Pond had pulled in a record breaking haul of waterbirds looking for somewhere to breed: 6 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebes, 2 Moorhen and 2 Coot. Lets see if they last...