Farmland project helps boost bird numbers

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A farmer near Chipping Norton has been taking part in a project to help birds survive the hardships of winter.

Mike Kettlewell has seen bird numbers on his land increase over the winter because of regular feeding organised with the Wychwood Project.

Mr Kettlewell farms 400 acres of land just north of Chipping Norton, and said he was delighted with the improvement in numbers that the Wychwood Project’s Bird Aid has helped to sustain.

He said: “The introduction of winter feeding and then year-round millet, fed from hanging feeders, has been dramatic for winter numbers and birds remaining to breed.

“The winter supplementary bird feeding was at the inspired instigation and support of the Wychwood Bird Aid project and has continued for over 12 years.

“The most dramatic effect has been on the winter numbers of farmland specialist birds such as chaffinches, yellowhammers, linnets, reed bunting, goldfinches and tree sparrows as well as skylarks and brambling.

Copyright Alan Larkman

Copyright Alan Larkman

“Mixed flocks of birds moving around the fields and hedges can number many hundreds particularly with the influx of continental migrants.”

In all, about 20 volunteers help with the Bird Aid project’s work, sustaining over 2,000 wintering birds, feeding them around 10 tonnes of seed in 2016, at half-a-dozen locations across West Oxfordshire.

Last week saw the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Big Farmland Bird Count, providing Mr Kettlewell and other Wychwood supporters with the opportunity to confirm that all their hard work is paying off.

To get involved with the Wychwood Project’s Bird Aid Group visit www.wychwoodproject.org. call 01865 815423 or email wychwood@
oxfordshire.gov.uk