Encouraging wildlife at Mottistone Estate
This section of the page features an image gallery, so if you're using a screen reader you may wish to jump to the main content.
Much of the land on Mottistone Estate, on the south of the Isle of Wight, is still divided into a patchwork of fields, as it was in years gone by.
Mottistone bucked the country-wide post-war trend to remove hedges in order to create huge fields to make way for increasingly large farm machinery.
People are now beginning to realise how important hedges, copses and field margins are for farmland wildlife. They provide valuable ‘corridors’, as well as food, shelter and nesting sites.
Wide, grass margins are left around arable fields for insects, small mammals, hares, ground-nesting and ground-feeding birds. Hedges are cut wide and high for birds and small mammals. In some fields, stubble is left over winter to provide valuable food and shelter for birds, especially finches and thrushes.
Some areas are managed as hay meadows and cut after mid July to give wildflowers an opportunity to set seed. These measures mean that birds can find seed and insect food - absent in a freshly ploughed field. However, some birds do benefit from ploughing - it's easier to search for worms.
Birds found around the farmland
These environmentally-friendly farming methods mean we have healthy populations of farm birds at Mottistone estate. These include Yellowhammer, Whitethroat, Meadow pipit, Barn owl, buzzard, kestrel, swallow, blackcap, chiffchaff, chaffinch, wren, blue tit, great tit, robin, blackbird and Song thrush. There are still a few Grey partridge, although these birds are becoming very rare now in Britain, unlike the Red-legged partridge which is an introduced species.
Small mammals on the farmland
Life for small mammals on a tilled field is very hazardous, so rough untouched areas at the margins of fields, together with copses and hedgerows, provide much-needed cover for field mice. Dormice live in the hedges, although they're so secretive that you're unlikely to see one.
The ponds and streams on the estate provide drinking water and often a food supply too.