new year 2024

on a Christmasy New Year note we were really thrilled to discover that a small covey of the 13 grey partridge we released at Llanunwas in the summer have survived all this dreadful wind and rain and are living over the hedge on our neighbour’s property in a patch of brassicas. Amazing that these birds came to us as eggs from Paul Hardcastle and have not had any wild education on how to be a partridge yet have survived foxes and storms!

We also released two young Turtle Doves that we bred in the summer (thanks to some obliging surrogate Barbary Dove parents) but those two appeared to head straight off to Africa joining their migration very wisely!

Significant is that this National Trust field chosen by the partridges is farmed by Ian Griffiths and he introduced 12m field margins for the last two decades to protect arable weeds and farmland birds with the Trust, along with wild meadow grasslands along the clifftops which have been very successful at bringing back Kestrels and others.
On Boxing day it was incredibly quiet and still so we released another four surplus males to boost the covey, we chose a day when they would be able to hear one another’s calls and link up.
Our family has worked with the Griffiths family and the National Trust for many, many decades now and it is great to be finding solutions with Ian and brother Rob to the nature crisis while still producing food from the lands.
Our focus is to give nature more refuge by planting and expanding the hedge boundaries to provide nest sites for farmland birds; more insects by protecting pollinator plants and wild meadow areas in close concert with the Bug Farm; and more seeds and weeds by keeping some arable habitats intact.
Llanunwas fields make up the biggest intact block of arable land on the St Davids peninsula and rare plants and bryophytes still find home here on the bare patches. The challenge is how best to maintain these arable patches. But with the help of Ian Rob and the Trust we are certain there are solutions to be found in 2024.
Hoping any 2024 resightings of these birds we release at Llanunwas provide some endorsement of our joint habitat management.
Hope it’s a great year for you all. Happy New Year!!!

The reintroduction of partridges and turtle doves at Llanunwas is being run by Habitat Info along with our wildlife rehabilitation work but much of the habitat creation and fencing work done on our property these last two years is thanks to a collaboration with the Bug Farm and financial support from the Nature Networks Fund project, delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, on behalf of the Welsh Government. Project partners are: Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm, Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership / Partneriaeth Natur Sir Benfro, Davies Bros (Llanunwas/ habitat INFO), the National Trust Pembrokeshire National Trust Wales, the Pembrokeshire Coast and the The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales – WTSWW.
Mark Underhill from the National Trust has sent me these comments on how their fields and the margins in particular are being managed: the main conservation management of these fields are the very wide (11 or 22m) headlands. These are primarily managed for rare arable plants, which (ideally) entails: annual or bi-annual ploughing and cultivating of the margin at the same time as the rest of the field. The margin is then left cultivated but unsown to allow natural regeneration of wild, native annual and ruderal plants, many of which have become increasingly scarce and threatened (at both a UK and European level) as a result of the intensification of arable farming (and in many cases) the increased use of herbicides. The wild and rough margins that develop provide the ideal condition for rare arable plants, but also provide an abundance of small seeds and invertebrates for farmland birds su