Highbridge Farm is a medium-sized working farm near Allbrook in Hampshire. It is non-intensive and includes a range of habitats such as hedgerows, ponds, a section of the River Itchen, scrub, reedbeds, grassland, cultivated areas, grazing pasture, damp grassland and a considerable area of water meadows managed under Higher Level Stewardship. It has an added layer of interest in that it includes a couple of acres which form a community farm project, part of Eastleigh Transition Network (ETNet).
Starting with a popular and familiar group, the bird life of the farm has proved interesting. Even though relatively small, the reed-beds are intensively used by species such as sedge warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) with the breeding season sounding as if male territories are packed tightly together with a lot of singing activity and other territorial behaviour. Reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) also appears abundant and I shall keep my eyes open for bearded tit (Panurus biarmicus) - you never know! The fields and meadows are used actively for feeding by swallows (Hirundo rustica) - see below for more on the invertebrates that bring them to the farm - and occasionally by lapwing (Vanellus vanellus). Birds of prey are also frequently seen, including numerous buzzards (Buteo buteo) and a frequently-seen pair of kestrels (Falco tinnunculus), plus occasional sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus) and to date a single sighting of a red kite (Milvus milvus), relatively far south for Hampshire. My first sighting of a kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) on the river running through the farm occurred a couple of weeks ago and I'll be watching to see if it becomes a long-term resident rather than simply passing thrugh on the way to some other winter habitat such as the coast.
of research that grab my attention. As well as blogging, I undertake professional ecological & wildlife surveys covering
invertebrates, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some mammals, plus habitat assessment and management
advice. The pages on the right will tell you more about my work, main interests and key projects, and you can follow
my academic work here.