FARMING MATTERS: Farming with wild birds in mind

Farmer Duncan Parker
Farmer Duncan Parker

Farmer Duncan Parker is justly proud of the wild birds living on his beef and sheep farm at Chilton Grounds. Resident species include Kestrel, Skylark, Greenfinch, Yellowhammer and Linnet.

The Aylesbury Vale Barn Owl Project has provided Mr Parker with nest boxes and it monitors the barn owls who have reared between five and eight young annually.

Mr Parker has also erected nest boxes for the resident Kestrels, who have subsequently bred there successfully.

He believes today’s farming practices pay dvidends for wildlife on his own farm.

He said: “Definitely we have seen many more birds on the farm, there are more around now than there were 20 years ago.

“I have been happy to adapt my farming practices to help wildlife.”

Older hedges have been restored by hedge laying and planting up any gaps to make them stockproof. Species rich native hedges are cut every third year, so they flower and fruit during spring and autumn, providing wildlife with both food and shelter.

Mr Parker has also provided the birds with low input grassland.

He said: “I love Skylarks and I have some ridge and furrow on some fields that we leave slightly undergrazed so it is tussocky and it is full of nesting Skylarks.”