Part of Helen Browning's Organic
Wildlife Photography Hides and Workshops in North Wiltshire, UK
Flora and Fauna
An organic haven for creatures great and small
Various studies have been carried out over the years to show the benefits of organic farming - the farm here has been organic since 1986! One of the most notable being the lack of pesticide use - resulting in the rich ecosystem from the bottom up. An abundance of herbivores and prey items means the food chain can continue to grow and result in a wealth of wildlife. Studies have shown that, on average, organic farms have 25% more bird species, 75% more plants and 50% more pollinators like butterflies and bees.
This makes the farm an ideal place to set up photography hides, workshops and classes - of course throughout all our activities we aim to support the local wildlife and continue to grow the ecosystem.
Below we have given an overview of some of the species that have been sighted on the farm.
The start of any ecosystem relies on a healthy range of plants to feed the herbivores and the farm has them in abundance.
Long hedgerows provide shelter and food throughout the year. Patches of woodland and specifically planted meadows provide another rich option for creatures needing something different. The abundance of plant life brings photography opportunities too. Spring brings the new growth, bluebells and poppies, throughout the summer, the valley and meadows bloom with orchids and wildflowers, then in winter frost covered hedgerows and berries weave through the farm.
Fruit naturally grows throughout the farm with autumn bringing an abundance of laden trees and bushes. Species such as blackberry, damsons, sloe, crabapple, pear, hawthorn and plum can be found dotted around the farm - providing a rich food source for those with a sweet tooth!
Insects and Pollinators
The abundance of insects on the farm is outstanding. The wealth of bees and butterflies support a rich floral diversity by pollinating plants across the farm and create stunning visuals as they fly through the fields and along hedgerows.
To aid the biodiversity on the farm there are a number of sites which have been planted specifically for attracting insects, providing a home, shelter and food sources for a rich diversity of wildlife. All kinds of insects can be found in these areas in abundance, the selection of plants provides a fantastic source of food and nectar for them to feast on.
Throughout the year the farm is alive with a huge range of birdlife - migrants come and go throughout but there is always something going on!
Goldfinches feed off thistles, long-tailed tits bounce among the woodland edges gathering insects, corn buntings provide a dash of yellow on the upper farm as skylarks flurry across the fields. I've even spotted a personal favourite - goldcrests, bouncing from branch to branch in the Royal Oak pub garden. As we go into autumn the evening skies are filled with starling murmurations, creating magical shapes and patterns in the air.
As well as this there is, of course, a wealth of predatory birds benefiting from the rich diversity. Three species of owl have been sighted on the farm (Barn Owl, Little Owl and Tawny Owl) as well as a massive range of raptors - buzzards, kites, goshawk, sparrowhawk, peregrines, kestrel, hobby and merlin make appearances throughout the year with some known to be resident on the farm.
For many, the Kingfisher is a photographic holy grail and the great news is we have one that frequents the ponds and waterways around the site, watch this space...
Of course, with such an abundance of plant life and food sources, there are mammals in abundance as well.
Smaller mammals can be seen all over the farm with field voles, rabbits, hares all in abundance - we even spot them just outside the office window! The occasional weasel has also been spotted darting across the path. You'll have to be quick to get a shot though!
As well as this there are a number of resident larger mammals, roe deer can be seen in various sites, badger setts and foxes scattered across the farm also make the most of the rich surrounding ecosystem.