Tuesday 27 August – Elm Farm, Burnett Leader: Roger Palmer

It was a fine sunny morning as 30 of us, including our host Philippa Paget, gathered at the farm entrance. This was to be Roger‘s “retirement walk”, his last time to lead it and so a bit special. Philippa described the farm’s involvement in Environmental Stewardship schemes, while Swallows and House Martins swooped around us. We set off across the fields. A Kestrel was spotted perched on a hay bale – maybe from the family raised in the Kestrel box this year. Near the gate a Green Woodpecker was heard and showed itself briefly. An owl box successfully used by Barn Owls this year was pointed out to us. We continued across fields with wild flower strips, enjoying the butterflies (more visible) as much as the birds. Looking across the valley we saw four Buzzards circling high above. Our coffee stop, half way down the hill, gave great views across to Compton Dando and of another Kestrel on a telegraph pole. Next we went through the cider apple orchard, and left across a rough meadow and enjoyed good views of our second Sparrowhawk, a fly-past Cormorant and heard the call of another Green Woodpecker. Avoiding trampling the Earthballs growing in the middle of the path and noting the ‘wheet’ of a Chiffchaff we all finally made it to the top. On our way back through stubble fields a lucky few saw a Yellowhammer – perched briefly before whizzing back into the hedge. Nearing the end we had our second large party of Goldfinches and stopped to enjoy the purple loosestrife and water mint around the small pond, attractive to butterflies including two bright Red Admirals. Finally it was time to thank Philippa for all the fascinating information about the management of the farm and its wildlife and to thank Roger for finding 30 species of birds and many butterflies and moths. Special thanks to him for all the past walks he has led at Elm Farm. Anne Crowe