A genuine regard for livestock and wildlife
Conservation at Watergate Farm
Conservation is integral to daily life at Watergate Farm. As a result we have nurtured a diverse range of plants and wildlife. We are participants in the Higher Level Conservation Scheme (HLS).
Over the last 20 years we have planted many thousands of trees on the farm. We have established three new spinneys and enhanced and added to some existing wooded areas already on the farm.
We have a rolling program of tree planting both within the fields and also along hedgerows. We have not planted any new hedgerows as we did not remove hedgerows in the 1970s and 80s as was the fashion then. At the moment we are trying to regenerate our historic orchard using standard traditional varieties that were the norm for Bedfordshire.
We encourage a wide variety of birds and mammals on the farm. We are particularly pleased to see Buzzards make a welcome comeback to the farm. For the last few years, we have had several of these magnificent birds resident and breeding on the farm. Sparrow Hawks, Kestrels, Woodpeckers and a host of other farmland birds seem to be increasing in numbers each year. We have recently erected several owl boxes around the farm to encourage Barn Owls to find nesting sites more easily.
We are actively involved with the government’s aim to stabilize and then to increase the numbers of pairs of english partridges. We are involved with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and participate in their Partridge Count Scheme to monitor their breeding success on the farm and to be able to compare with national trends.
We have planted wide hedgerow margins around the arable fields with tussocky grass mixes and only cut most of the hedges every other year and some every three years. We also grow strips of wild bird cover to provide both food and shelter to a wide range of birds.
The farm supports a rich variety of mammals both large and small. We have a healthy population of both Chinese Water Deer and Muntjac Deer and occasional visitors of Fallow Deer. Foxes, Badgers, and Brown Hares are common; we welcome them all.