All my land and that owned or leased by Shropshire Wildlife Trust [SWT] has been managed organically since we acquired it and fortunately little herbicide or pesticide was used by our predecessors and so there has always been a good deal of wildlife.
This is increasing with careful management of the various habitats as shown by the species lists drawn up by volunteers, which include mammals, birds, bats, amphibia, reptiles, butterflies, dragonflies, other insects and plants.
Even my garden contains 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! Heather also likes snakes which is just as well as they appreciate her large warm poly- tunnel & compost heaps.
FIELDS – see map above.
Conservation grazing with cattle & sheep is designed to maximise the wild-flower biodiversity – see the “Farming” page for details.
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. We strewed “green hay” from there onto Lane Field in 2022 and it took very well so that we were able to harvest the first hay crop in 2023.
I purchased the 8.4 acre “Home Field” in January 2021. It has a public footpath running along one side so I fenced that off from the rest of the field, which is going to be grazed, to create “Apostle Alley”. One side of this 230 metre footpath had a few existing native trees along it and these were preserved and a further 26 planted in February 2021 – Scots Pine, Small-leaved Lime, Wild Service, Silver birch, Bird Cherry, Field Maple, Hornbeam and Rowan. Space was left for 3 “Dutch Elm Disease resistant” Ulmus Wingham which I’m told is an excellent replacement for our lost English Elm and is a host tree for the White Letter Hairstreak Butterfly which SWT are keen to bring back to the county.
There are shrubs at approx. one metre intervals on the other side of the path; in February 2021 we planted 55 Hazel, 55 Buckthorn and 10 Honeysuckle plus one Black Poplar tree where the ground is hopefully wet enough to suit it.
All these trees and shrubs were generously donated by “Apostle Coffee” www.apostlecoffee.com – to offset their carbon footprint from importing the beans – these are organic, Fairtrade and roasted off-grid on Wenlock Edge. Fortunately for me, they were recently “best buy” in the Independent newspaper and the resultant expansion of their business means they need to plant lots more trees. This year they donated a further 260 and planted them in March with the aid of volunteers. This completed “Apostle Alley” and left plenty over to go along the two long fences in Swamp Field.
These 260 trees were made up of: Sorbus Aria ( Whitebeam) x 2 ; Juniperus ( males & females) x 8 ; Vibernum Opulus ( Guelder Rose) x 50 ; Viburnum Lantana ( Wayfaring tree) x 50 ; Alder Buckthorn x 65 ; Corylus Avellana ( Hazel) x 70 ; and Carpinus betulus ( Hornbeam) x 15.
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, especially Goosander. But their margins are ideal for dragonflies and butterflies and the swallows & Daubentons bats swoop over them hunting- I’ve even seen Hobbys catch unfortunate dragonflies – and the toads migrate there to breed every year.
The two Conservation Lakes are being leased by SWT and being shallower than my two pools are better for ducks and wading birds which are increasingly being seen there.