Friday, 30 July 2010

The conservation grazing season is starting to kick off in earnest now that the chicks have hatched and fledged and most plants have finished flowering. Over the last few days cattle have gone onto Weetslade country park and on to Druridge Pools. More will go onto Druridge pools over the next week to get the grass eaten down and to plunge up the edge of the pools for the migratory wildfowl that travel through the region in the autumn months. There is a slight change this year in that we are using Luing cattle instead of the Highlands which we have used over the last couple of years. Luings are a cross between a Highland cow and a Shorthorn bull and are a popular breed of cow used on Hill farms across northern England and Scotland.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

One of the great things about going around checking the stock is that you get to see so much more of the wildlife at different times of the day. Yesterday evening while out on Longhorsley moor I spotted a jay, a roe deer and unfortunately what looked like the remains of a woodcock. Presumably the latter was a UK resident that had fallen victim to a bird of prey or possibly even a youngster that had been nabbed by a fox. The feathers looked like those of an adult but I am not sure how quickly the fledglings get their adult plumage.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Last week I put 3 lots of sheep into one field. There are now 4 different breeds mixed together in there and it is quite interesting watching how different their behaviour is. Although they keep relatively close together when they are grazing they still keep in their distinct groups and quickly seperate out again once they are left alone. The rare breeds are also a little wilder and harder to gather than the Swaledales which themselves have a reputation for being a little wild compared to other breeds. I have seen a similar thing with some of the breeds of cattle that we use for our conservation grazing.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The soays have now returned to Pow Hill beside Derwent reservoir for the summer. They graze there through the summer months to help with the bracken control and to enhance the heathland restoration work that is being carried out. In the winter they graze other conservation grassland nearer the coast. They are quite shy creatures and behave a little differently to other sheep both in their grazing habits and their behaviour which can make rounding them up to move them a bit of a challenge!