After a month tied to a computer I was delighted that my work with the farmers of North Kent was declared ‘business critical’ and I was allowed back out to explore farms again this month.
February is traditionally known as February Fill Dyke by the farmers and even Covid 19 can’t stop the march of spring across the land. Therefore it is important that I can get out and view the farms in order to give last minute advice before the waders begin to set up shop for the breeding season.
After another wet winter, the farms were once again looking in good condition to attract breeding lapwing and redshank. However, last year we all learnt that, if a wet winter is followed by a bone dry spring, then there are no guarantees that birds will successfully breed.
This time of year is always full of hope though. I was once again delighted to see lapwing displaying over the fields at Conyer where the farmers have put in great efforts to rotovate along the edge of rills. 50 plus lapwing were using the fields to feed in and several were already displaying over the rills created a few years back.
My absolute highlight of the month though was crawling on my belly through the mud so as not to disturb the thousands of geese and duck feeding on the fields at Mockett’s Farm on the Isle of Sheppey. The Burden Brothers, who manage the land, created wet scrapes here last autumn and, a change in the grazing regime, along with the winter rains, have created ideal conditions for wintering wildfowl and waders. I challenge even the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge to produce more birds on site that I witnessed on those 2 fields, while laying up to my nose in the mud.
Moments like this fill me with immense job satisfaction, which is all the greater because I have been a part of the journey of the land from the very beginning.
The chance to begin this journey with a new landowner is equally as exciting, so I was delighted to be invited by GH Dean to view their land holdings at Blacketts Farm, near Conyer and on Luddenham Marshes, near Faversham.
These areas are well located sites with an open feel, two important ingredients for success. We are at the very start of the process to turn these grazing marshes into havens for our breeding waders but I am hugely looking forward to working with the landowners over the coming months as we begin to dream big of what could be achieved.