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Wildlife and conservation At The Private Hill

Images courtesy of Christopher Tomson
the farm's Independent Conservation Adviser

Thrussendale Farm, home to The Private Hill, is very much a working farm managed in harmony with nature. The underlying rock is chalk which forms the distinctive scenery of the Yorkshire Wolds. Chalk outcrops can be seen at the northern end of the farm on Wooing Hill.

The farm is in a Countryside Stewardship agreement, a government scheme which encourages farmers to enhance the natural assets on the farm such as wildflowers, birds, insects particularly pollinators, ponds, woodland and hedgerows.

The natural chalk grassland on Wooing Hill and on the slopes behind The Private Hill is rich in native wildflowers during the spring and summer and these in in turn attract a range of butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects. Sheep lightly graze the grassland on Wooing Hill to stop it getting too tall and shading out the wildflowers.

Nectar mix has been sown in a field below The Private Hill specifically for insects. The mix includes clovers, vetches and Sanfoin and flowers in the spring and summer. Half of this field will be mown in mid-Summer to encourage the plants to flower again in the Autumn, in effect a mechanical dead heading. This will provide pollen and nectar for insects at a time of year when many wildflowers have finished flowering.

The hedgerows on the farm are managed sensitively to provide blossom in the spring for insects, safe nesting cover for birds and berries in the Autumn for both resident birds and migrant birds such as Redwings and Fieldfares which arrive in September from Scandinavia. There is also an ongoing programme of new hedgerow planting around the farm.

The small wood at the northern end of the farm is a semi natural ancient woodland with Bluebells and is home to Foxes and Badgers. Two nest boxes for Barn owls can be seen on trees in the field on the edge of the wood.

 

Barn owls have been seen on the farm so it is hoped that they will stay and breed.

Barn Owls

Barn owls can often be seen on the farm and are being encouraged to breed here.

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Curlew

Curlews often pass through in the Spring and can be seen near the pond. Additional wetland is planned to encourage them to breed on the farm.

They have a very distinct call.

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Brown Hare

Brown Hares breed on the farm. This is an adult and one of several breeding pairs. They have long ears and strong back legs, not be confused with Rabbits.

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Butterflies

Butterflies on the farm include the Marbled White feeding on Scabious which grows on Wooing Hill 

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Ancient Woodland

Woods with Bluebells are ancient and have never been farmed. Woods without Bluebells are often those that were planted in the 1600’s on former farmland.

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Wild Flowers

Spring flowers include Lady’s smock also known as Milk maids or Cuckoo flower and the yellow Cowslip

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Thyme growing on the chalk on Wooing Hill

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Bird’s foot trefoil and Lady’s Bedstraw so called because of its use for stuffing

mattresses in former times

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Look out for these Rock Roses which only occur on lime rich soils such as Chalk.

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A new spring fed pond created in 2020 to encourage breeding Curlew and to provide a drinking source for the farm's sheep flock

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