50 farmers, naturalists and friends of the network came together on cultivated margins and conservation areas near Feltwell to share experiences and learn about optimal management and wildlife benefits of cultivated margins in the Brecks. We were very fortunate to have Lucy Hatcher and Emily Swan from Natural England to advise and assist with identification and Dr Rob Hawkes to explain his work in best placement of margins on farms and linkage between dry open priority habitats to any new members. The margins on Glebe Farm are home to the nationally rare grey carpet moth and this has been confirmed by recent survey work done by Sharon Hearle from Butterfly Conservation; she has been pleasantly surprised to find Green Hairstreak on a margin too. John Secker from the host Glebe Farm showed the group successful cultivated margins which have been in place for over 10 years with over 100 species now recorded there. His infectious enthusiasm for the natural world added to the valuable advice he was able to give to attendees. Many thanks to John and Chris Cock from Glebe Farm and neighbouring farmers Patricia and George Atkin and Stephen Harrison.
Helping turtle doves
The cultivated margins are a really good source of food for turtle doves, especially the various species of fumitory growing there. Sadly turtle doves are showing the fastest decline in numbers of any UK bird species and are on the Red List. Dense thickets of scrub with access to water provide a good habitat and supplementary feeding adds to the natural food source. This all helps to encourage a breeding population around Glebe Farm. Eliza Leat from Operation Turtle Dove explained how she can support farmers with advice and food to help bring back this iconic bird. Many attendees fondly recalled hearing the gentle purring sound in their childhood and the ways to support turtle doves are known so there is the potential to increase UK populations and bring back that familiar sound to our UK countryside. With the aid of telescopes everyone was able to see the birds and all could hear the beautiful call. Many thanks to all those involved for their advice and input.