Wildlife and Burnham Wick Farm:
Farming has changed considerably over the past 50 years with wildlife facing a number of challenges.After the Second World War, production and self-sufficiency were key Government-driven policies and this led to land being cleared and hedges routed out. Field size increased and wildlife was squeezed to the margins.
Over the past decade, greater emphasis has been placed on the natural environment and we haveecome more aware of the need to conserve threatened species. On the farm, small wood plots have bee established, hedges planted and a reed bed pond created.
In 1997 grass margins were established around most of the fields on the heavy land and these now form thick belts of cover. Grass pasture was originally used for grazing the dairy herd, but this ceased in 1997.Nowadays the grassland forms part of the Essex coastal Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) and we follow a number of management prescriptions.
The farm has a good population of foxes, which are both heard and seen. Tracks left in the snow show that most areas of the farm are scoured on a nghtly basis for food.
A Badger sett has been present on the farm for many years and evidence of their activity can be readily found. Trampled areas of crop, latrines and pathways all indicate where they have been.
Most of the ditches on the heavy land hold water throughoutthe year and some of these are home to Water Voles. Grazing areas, droppings and holes give evidence to their presence.
Hares were once extremely common on the marshes and our farm still supports a reasonable population.These are perhaps bes seen in March, when performing in true `Mad Hatter` style.
The older buildings provide plenty of roosting sites for bats and on a warm summer`s evening, a number of species can be seen trawling the air for food.