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From farm to feeder

A successful summer in Devon

Andrew Cooper is best known as a broadcaster, presenter, writer and international award winning wildlife film-maker for the BBC through his documentaries and live reports on wildlife and environment issues. Andrew also owns Church Farm in South Devon which is often featured on BBC Autumnwatch for the vast array of wildlife present on his farm, a lot of which can be seen on his live web cameras including a bird feeding station sponsored by Vine House Farm.   Andrew is extremely passionate about wildlife and we are proud to welcome him as a guest blogger. 

This year will linger long in memory. Here in Devon, as elsewhere in the UK, we enjoyed hot sunny days for weeks on end.  The summer was how it should be with butterflies in abundance, grasshoppers and crickets everywhere.  Even hay making was almost a leisurely affair, no mad dash between showers. On one of the hottest days a BBC film crew from the 'One Show' arrived to feature the farm and the badgers in our wood. A great day enjoyed by all. Especially when the star attractions turned up on cue.

Meanwhile, down in the barn our resident kestrels bucked the national trend and raised four youngsters. And they were not alone. Their neighbours, the barn owls, also successfully reared three fluffy white offspring. Across the UK the picture for these beautiful owls is not good, so it was especially pleasing to watch three youngsters emerge just before dusk in late August. This was perhaps their first expedition into the big wide world. The three owlets sat on a nearby gate peering into the grass. One then pounced on something  in the field. Probably a fast moving grasshopper. The others quickly followed. Now all three were in the grass looking at each other as if to ask, what next? With a bit of effort they flew back to the gate and repeated the peering, pouncing, circuit and bumps for the next half hour. Eventually a parent owl swooped low over them carrying a meal into the barn. The owlets scrambled to follow.

Summers end has brought misty mornings and flocks of small birds searching hedgerows and meadows for food. The bird table is getting busy again and our peanuts and seed vanishing fast. Looking at our bird table camera, I had better go and top them up!

Andrew Cooper, Church Farm, South Devon.

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