It’s great to be able to report a positive wildlife story. The following piece, due to appear in the next issue of Holiday Cottages, is based on information sent to us by the Wildlife Trusts. OK, so we are giving a plug to Waitrose, but we’re more than happy to publicise people or organisations who encourage farming practices that attract and help wildlife. Good old Waitrose. I wish our nearest wasn’t 50 miles away!

Wildlife thrives

Some of Britain’s dairy farmers are playing a vital role in the resurgence of many threatened wild animals and birds. 

Figures from the wildlife scheme, WildCare, which advises farmers on how to create and maintain habitats, show that endangered creatures – such as brown hares, yellowhammers and even the house sparrow – are making a dramatic comeback on participating farms.

The figures, released two years after the launch of  WildCare at 60 dairy farms which supply the supermarket Waitrose, reveal that wildlife habitats have increased by 19% on the farms. Sightings of birds considered to be in decline are up 47%.

Farmers involved in the scheme leave hedgerows to produce blossom and fruit to feed birds in the winter, before they trim them. They’ve also taken a variety of other wildlife-attracting measures which include creating wide field margins so that wild flowers provide food and egg-laying areas for butterflies, and making ponds, ditches, beetle banks, skylark scrapes, barn owl boxes and wetland areas as well as leaving stubble on the ground over winter.

Species in decline nationally, but which have bucked the trend on the participating farms include spotted flycatchers, reed buntings, starlings, house sparrows, yellowhammers and the brown hare.

Sightings of butterflies have also increased ‘significantly’, including meadow brown, gatekeeper, ringlet and large white.