We’ve moved house lately and the village we’ve moved to backs right onto RSPB’s Hope (Grange) Farm. On one of our first weekends in our new house I decided to set out on a long walk. All in all I covered about eight miles or so, on a windy but sunny day in late January.
I had layered up but soon I was removing my jacket and hoodie as I warmed up from the exercise. The countryside I crossed is mostly intensive arable farmland,. Birds were few and far between as it was the middle of the day and most were probably taking cover from the gusts.
But I did meet a great tit perching out on some hawthorn. Its call confused me though as it sounded exactly like a long-tailed tit. I knew great tits were fairly vocally dexterous, but I had never realised it extended so far.
I encountered a party of shooting folk with dogs, and we nodded awkwardly at each other.
I soon reached Hope Farm, and realised that it is much larger than I had previously thought. It is run by the RSPB for a profit, but also with increasing numbers of farmland birds. It’s a demonstration of how farming and wildlife can go together.
There was a large flock of chaffinches, and a couple of kestrels over different bits of it. I expect it will be better on future visits at better times of day and in better weather, and I might see corn buntings or grey partridges. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing more of the place over the coming months.