Aerial Views

#30DaysWild no 14. Does checking on the cows by drone count?

It did give us a chance to see how the mown patches in the rushes at Wheatland Farm were doing. When we compare the main image above with this image from April the patches seem to be softening in nicely, just with fewer of the dominant soft rush that we’re trying to control.

The turbine field at Wheatland Farm, Devon, April 2021

It seems like only a few months ago that we weed wiped these rushes with the help of the Devon Wildlife Trust. Actually it was four years ago. But that’s still too recently to be having to think about doing it again. In other words, it didn’t really work all that well, considering we had to use herbicide, which we don’t like doing..

Hence the switch to mowing patches, starting in the spring of 2020. We just don’t have the equipment to cut all at once, and we wouldn’t really want to either, so we’re hoping that mowing repeatedly in patches, and then moving the patches, when combined with the grazing, will be enough to keep things under control.

It’s interesting to note that it’s here in the turbine field that the rushes have really taken hold, not the meadow in front of the eco lodges, which is managed without cows. There, the priorities are biodiversity and then amenity / aesthetics. The lodge field is a bit drier than the turbine field, but it has also helped that we’ve been able to make our own timing decisions about what to cut/graze when, rather than following HLS rules. Overall, it seems that we’ve had more success for plant biodiversity that way.

However, we also couldn’t really do without the cows. We can’t ‘mow’ on Popehouse Moor – the terrain is too uneven. So that has to be grazed, and we need more than just the small SSSI area to make it viable. So we’re looking to adapt and use the best of both approaches.

Previously on #30DaysWild

This time last year we had found a lone heath spotted orchid in flower by the wildlife pond.

This time in 2019: we were sympathising with everyone feeling a bit like a faded butterfly as GCSE exam season approached its end.

This time in 2018: a young blackbird was looking rather bedraggled in the rain.

This time in 2017: We were finding dragonfly exuvia at the Wheatland Farm wildlife pond. June is one of the peak months for new dragonflies. So far this #30DaysWild we’ve resisted posting about them, because we do it so often. But we can’t hold out much longer!