Posts Tagged ‘Sheepdrove Organic Farm’

Farm Wildlife events (Nov 2010)

16 November, 2010

These latest volunteer tasks are in association with the local branch of Butterfly Conservation. Coming soon, the 2011 event list for the Lambourn Valley Barn Owl Group.

Contact us: Please tell us if you wish to attend a task – it is vital to our preparation. Please email Jason Ball or call Jason on 01488 674727. What to bring: Please bring a packed lunch – we will picnic on the farm! Bring clothes ready for any weather and sensible boots or wellies. Meet here: The farm office, at Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre, Sheepdrove Road, Lambourn, Berkshire. Map and directions here…

Saturday 27 Nov 2010

Scrub up for Butterflies! 10am – 3pm
Join us for some scrub planting & woodland edge cutting. We aim to create scrubby edge habitat to benefit butterflies and moths.  They love the shelter effect as well as the nectar – and some species will eat the trees at caterpillar stage.

In association with Butterfly Conservation’s Upper Thames branch. Be sure to bring a packed lunch and wrap up warm with outdoor clothes and boots. Bring garden gloves if you have them – we have spares too. We will provide tools and tea – so please tell us if you’re coming. Call us on 01488 674727.

(PLEASE NOTE –  some steep slopes and uneven ground).

Monday 29 Nov 2010

Scrub up for Butterflies! (second session) 10am – 3pm
Scrub planting & woodland edge cutting. Details as per Saturday’s task.


This is part of the Sheepdrove Rare Butterfly Project – and we’re helping moths too. We are planting native Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and Barberry (Berberis vulgaris). We ordered locally-grown trees from Murray Maclean at Frilford, tel: 01865 391242.

Hawthorn will provide shade and shelter in years to come. I’ve seen small bushes make a big difference for some butterflies on a windy day. Cowslips already grow in our target areas – and I hope that in future we’ll see the endangered Duke of Burgundy arrive at Sheepdrove.

Barberry is the caterpillar food plant for the cute Barberry Carpet moth – probably locally extinct because barberry shrubs were ripped out of England’s hedges. It harbours a rust fungus that affects cereal, but modern varieties are resistant to the disease, so we’re bringing this bush back. Hopefully the moths will find it one day – Barberry Carpet has been found in western Oxfordshire. Meanwhile the Barberry is a wonderful food source for bees and birds.

Your spade work could leave a lasting legacy! Please join us on a task, we’d love you to be part of the project.

Jason Ball
Manager for Biodiversity and Alternative Energy
01488 674727

More wildlife events and volunteer tasks…


Steel and Snow

20 January, 2010

From our Snow Gallery, here’s a photo you can use on your computer as a snowy desktop wallpaper. The steel sculpture stands in the courtyard in front of Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre, and was designed by sculptor Patrick Bateman.

How to capture this as your wallpaper:

  1. Click on the picture to see it appear full size.
  2. Right-click the full image and select ‘save as’ or ‘set as wallpaper’

Farm animals in steel -  sculpture by Patrick Bateman. Photo by Jason P Ball

Birds in snow

18 January, 2010

Where some snow has melted a Robin forages for food

The snow has dire consequences for many birds, mainly due to lack of food. Feeding the birds is more important than ever.

Here at Sheepdrove Organic Farm we feed the birds in several ways:

  • we grow and leave crops as winter food sources for seed-eating birds such as Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Skylark and Grey Partridge
  • we put out grain feeders for the partridges
  • we have nut and seed feeders which help a wide range of birds including House Sparrow, finches, tits and even woodpeckers!

Although certain species, such as Jay, collect and store food for winter, most birds are on a daily race for sufficient energy to survive. When it snows, many resources become inaccessible to the birds, and they have to expend more energy finding food and keeping warm.

The Barn Owl is a vulnerable species in snowy weather. During the recent prolonged periods of snow-covered ground, we saw Barn Owls hunting during daylight, which is a sign of desperation. So we provided dead mice for the owls, which we placed on prominent fence posts and perches.

A Tawny Owl’s woodland prey species are less likely to be hidden under snow. They can also take birds, as can Little Owl and Kestrel. The Barn Owl, however, is very dependent on hunting animals in grass habitat, which is easily covered by snow.

A bit of bird news

15 January, 2010

Stonechat (female)

On the Berkshire Bird News website you can register and submit your records of birds. They have a rare-ometer which predicts the chances of spotting unusual species. Check the recent news and photos (you can see Bittern, Grey Wagtail and Redwing on there right now). BerksBirds is brilliant.

Here’s an example of submitted records.

Date Species Site Count
15/01/10 Chaffinch Sheepdrove Organic Farm 2 J Ball
08:20 2 male. SU358819.
15/01/10 Woodpigeon Sheepdrove Organic Farm 1 J Ball
08:20 SU358819.
15/01/10 Marsh Tit Sheepdrove Organic Farm 1 J Ball
08:20 SU358819.
15/01/10 Magpie Sheepdrove Organic Farm 1 J Ball
08:00 SU358819.
15/01/10 Great Tit Sheepdrove Organic Farm 3 J Ball
07:50 SU358819.
15/01/10 Pied Wagtail Sheepdrove Organic Farm 1 J Ball
07:50 SU358819.
15/01/10 Robin Sheepdrove Organic Farm 1 J Ball
07:50 SU358819.
15/01/10 Great Spotted Woodpecker Sheepdrove Organic Farm 1 J Ball
07:50 m. drumming. SU358819.
15/01/10 Dunnock Sheepdrove Organic Farm 2 J Ball
07:50 SU358819.
15/01/10 Coal Tit Sheepdrove Organic Farm 1 J Ball
07:50 SU358819.
15/01/10 Blue Tit Sheepdrove Organic Farm 5 J Ball
07:50 SU358819.
15/01/10 Blackbird Sheepdrove Organic Farm 3 J Ball
07:50 1m + 2f. SU358819.
15/01/10 Song Thrush Sheepdrove Organic Farm 1 J Ball
07:50 SU358819.