October 19th, 2020

Tamsin has recently been working on the Birds and Bee project, along with six other farm conservation advisors, all members of the Scottish Farming and Wildlife Advisers Group (ScotFWAG).  The project has worked with over 60 Scottish farmers to create habitat benefiting many species of birds and bees. The farmers involved in the project come from all across Scotland, but Tamsin has been working with farmers in Orkney and Aberdeenshire.

cornflower field

The Birds and Bees Project is funded by the Biodiversity Challenge Fund, run by NatureScot (formally Scottish Natural Heritage). The funding was awarded earlier this year and the group have managed to progress the project, despite the problems with COVID, in some cases having to have video advisory visits with farmers, rather than face to face meetings.
In total 30 hectares of species-rich grassland will have been sown, some incorporating an element of cereal to provide an increased interest for small farmland birds over the first winter and some being used to enhance already existing areas of grassland.

As well as providing the wildflower seed for creating these areas of species-rich grassland, the Project also provided 56 Barn Owl boxes, 480 Tree Sparrow boxes, 60 invertebrate boxes and 60 bird feeders and bags of wildbird seed.
The Birds and Bees Project provided the species-rich grassland seed, which is highly specialist, grown in Scotland by Scotia Seeds and much more expensive than normal grass seed. The nestboxes were provided to enhance the areas around the sites, hopefully encouraging the wildlife attracted to them to stay and breed in the area.

The species-rich grassland sites will create long term sources of pollen and nectar for a wide variety of pollinating insects. The increase in pollinators will help insect eating birds and predatory insects and the flower seeds will feed seed eating bird species, such as Linnet and Yellowhammer. The sites will become a habitat used by voles and other small rodents and so draw in larger predatory birds such as Barn Owl and Kestrel, in all the whole food web will benefit from the habitat creation.