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Springwatch and National Trust explore Sherborne Park Estate


The visit by the Springwatch team to Gloucestershire is helping the National Trust rangers dig deeper into the amount of wildlife living on the estate.
The additional attention searching for wildlife for the programme has confirmed the presence of a few rare animals which rangers suspected were present, but hadn’t yet found conclusive evidence.
A mammal survey carried out by Springwatch has confirmed water shrews are present as well as yellow necked mice and given more detail on the spread of hedgehogs through the village of Sherborne.
We’ve been working closely with the Springwatch researchers and local wildlife experts, sharing local knowledge and helping them find the best places for the programme,’ said Simon Nicholas, Countryside Manager for the National Trust in Sherborne Park Estate.
‘It has been fascinating working with the programme’s nest finder. We knew we had breeding yellowhammers, but he found 16 nests in one small area which confirmed they are breeding at much higher densities than we expected. Working alongside Springwatch to look much more deeply and learn even more about the estate has been quite revealing.’

Springwatch presenter Chris Packham said: ‘I think one of the challenges is how to address the issue of a farmed landscape, and we came to Sherborne because there are so many good examples of farming practice here that support wildlife.
‘We want to focus on what is good and bad, and Sherborne gives us the opportunity to look at some very good practices. One farmer in the village encourages swallows, whilst another has wild flower meadows.
‘We’ve shown our viewers footage of hedges, and hedgerows are close to my heart. I’m sickened when I see a hedge flailed to death but there are some great examples such as just behind our toilets we have a hedge with a bullfinch nest!
‘We have a good core to work with here and it’s not just the picturesque view of a landscape.  It's about the number of yellowhammers living in a hedgerow, not just how pretty the park looks.  There are some really great places on offer with good access.’

Although normally a quieter part of the Cotswolds, the programme has brought some extra visitors to Lodge Park and on the walks around Sherborne Park Estate. The National Trust has recruited more than 20 new volunteers to help out, running guided walks and sharing information about the landscape and its wildlife. If anybody is interesting in volunteering at Sherborne, more details are available on the website.
One of the Trust’s experts who originally started as a volunteer is ranger and ecologist Anna Field who loves the ‘festival of raptors’ the programme has been celebrating at Sherborne.
‘I do a lot of raptor surveys – watching their behaviour closely on the nest cams and seeing the behaviour helps to understand the behaviour I see away from the nest and I can understand more of what they are doing.’
Anna’s work at Sherborne Park Estate has already identified 16 pairs of buzzards, three pairs of kites, more than five pairs of sparrow hawks as well as breeding hobbies and kestrels.
As well as being passionate about raptors, Anna surveys the farmland birds such as yellowhammers and corn buntings.
We already do breeding farmland bird surveys and wider ringing on the estate but the nest finding adds another level of detail. Hopefully we can colour ring some of the chicks and start to learn about the dispersal of the birds and how they use the estate. In turn that will allow us to work with the farmers to target conservation measures.
‘The farmland bird numbers seem to be stable but we will continue to monitor them and respond quickly to any changes.’

Explore Gloucestershire
7 June 2017


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