The University of Warwick's Wellesbourne Campus has become a partner in the Arden Farm Wildlife Network Tree Sparrow Project.
The Arden Farm Wildlife Network was established in April 2018 with funding for 3 years from Natural England’s Facilitation Fund. The project brings together like-minded farmers to share best practice on how to improve their farm for wildlife whilst maintaining a productive farm. They started with 18 members and have grown in the first year to 25 farms, covering over 9,000 hectares. They work in partnership with Zoe Bell, an independent environmental agricultural adviser, who works with the farmers.
The Network have also secured £17,380 from Severn Trent’s ‘Boost for Biodiversity’ grant scheme to support a new ‘Tree sparrow village’ project. This funding is helping to create over 11 hectares of wild bird seed habitat and 5.5 hectares of pollen and nectar flowers on farms across the area. This, along with supplementary feeding of wild bird food over the winter months will give the tree sparrows plenty of food all year round. In addition, the funding helped to install 110 tree sparrow boxes across 11 farms in the area. As tree sparrows live in colonies, it is vital that their boxes are placed in close proximity to each other. We have placed 10 boxes on trees at the Wellesbourne Campus and have sown a wild bird seed mix and pollen and nectar flowers. We have subsequently moved some of the nest boxes based on advice from matt prior (@mattthesparrow) / Twitter that they were too close together.
We have also installed a barn owl box. Barn owls have suffered huge declines over the last 50 years due to agricultural intensification and habitat loss and by working collaboratively the Arden Farm Wildlife Network is helping to restore their habitat and nesting sites at a landscape scale. This is with £4,000 funding from Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ (which comes from the 5p charge for plastic carrier bags).
In early spring 2021 we planted 1,800 hedgerow trees as two hedges (200m and 160 m) to improve biodiversity and provide corridors for insects, pollinators and wildlife - again with support from the Arden Farm Wildlife Network.
The wild birds present on the Wellesbourne Campus are being recorded by Gus Ariss (@GusAriss). The counts for 2020 are summarised here.
The image below shows one of the areas sown for pollinators and wild birds (late June).