All my land has been managed organically since I bought it and fortunately little herbicide and pesticide was used by my predecessors and so there has always been a good deal of wildlife, which is increasing with careful management of the various habitats.
Shropshire Wildlife Trust, who own and lease adjacent land – see “SWT ” page – have drawn up a conservation management plan and they and others have compiled mammal, bird, butterfly, dragonfly & wildflower species lists.
Even the gardens contain an increasing number of toads, frogs & newts and I nearly put my bare hand on a grass snake one year, no problem once I was sure it was not an adder! Julia also likes snakes which is just as well as they appreciate her large warm poly-tunnel & compost heaps.
The bee orchard was sown with a wildflower mix containing cowslips & cranesbill and these have flourished ever since.
FIELDS – see map above.
Conservation grazing with cattle & sheep is designed to maximise the wild-flower biodiversity – see the “Farming” page for details.
A regime of regular hay-making followed by aftermath grazing is developing Lake Field & Wildflower Hay Meadow into traditional species-rich wild-flower hay meadows. This is resulting in lower quantities [an advantage!] of higher quality hay plus the restoration of a beautiful and seriously threatened habitat – 97% of the old wild-flower hay meadows in the UK have been lost. In 2016 Wildflower Hay Meadow was started off by strewing with “green hay” & yellow rattle seed from good local sites. Lake Field already had a small patch of yellow rattle and a number of the “indicator species”, including Common Spotted Orchids and hay was first made there in 2015.
To hide the wire fence between Wildflower Hay Meadow and Nursery Area and for the benefit of the wildlife, I’ve planted a screen of mostly hazel with some field & dog roses, viburnum lantana & opulis, buckthorn & alder buckthorn and native honeysuckle – one plant per meter, to be kept at the height of a high hedge – buckthorn grown this way is apparently good for the Primrose butterflies and these have been seen. It is also cheaper to establish & maintain than a conventional hedge – as I know having planted & restored hedges in the past and now having a lot of them to maintain!
Nursery Area is where Julia has her polytunnel – see the “Plant Nursery” page – and I have the hay-barn, screened from the road by a copse of 24 silver birch.
Lower Pool Field has recently been fenced off from the Woodland so that it can be grazed slightly more intensively to encourage the knapweed and other desirable wild-flowers plus facilitate opening up the edges of Lower Pool a little, with the assistance of SWT staff & volunteers if they get the Countryside Stewardship grant they have applied for.
Brook Field, is due to be planted with 950 native broad-leaf trees and scrubs this winter, thanks to a grant from the Woodlands Trust and a donation from two members of the local branch of the SWT. Volunteers to help plant them would be EXTREMELY WELCOME !
Sam’s Field may in the future have its fence removed and be allowed to develop naturally into scrub-land or, with luck and sufficient grazing, a woodland glade.
I bought the two pools and the wooded hillside above it in 1996 and designated it a wildlife reserve to be managed with the primary aim of maximising the biodiversity.
The next two winters, I planted large quantities of deciduous native trees to complement those already present in the woodland, which had been degraded by over-grazing. Now that these have become well-established, I’ve introduced a very much more sensitive extensive grazing regime designed to encourage the woodland wildflowers in “Wood Pasture” while there is none at all in “Non Intervention Woodland”.
A Forestry Commission Grant enabled me to commission a professional Management Plan in 2012, following which I got a 3 year Bird Biodiversity Grant to carry it out, coppicing & thinning trees to provide suitable habitats for the 10 threatened species of wild birds specifically targeted in the West Midlands.
While I manage the wood primarily for the benefit of wildlife, it is a source of fuel for my log-burners ; blackberries ; sloes for gin ; rowanberries for jelly ; elder flowers for cordial ; wild cherries ; inedible chestnuts [ I keep hoping !] & dubiously edible fungi.
I’m looking for a charcoal burner to use the rampant alder for charcoal, which they could keep or sell. Wet or dry wood-workers would also be welcome .
The two Pools were excavated by the previous owner of the land as fishing lakes around 1991 and they are too deep for wading birds although we do get swans & ducks. But their margins are ideal for dragonflies and butterflies and the swallows & Daubentons bats swoop over them hunting- I even seen Hobbys catch unfortunate dragonflies – and the toads migrate there to breed every year.