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Open Farm Sunday: Bisterne Estate

By Jodie Case, Predation Research Assistant

Open Farm Sunday, managed by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), has been running annually since 2006, providing opportunity for farmers to share their fabulous work with all ages, by opening their farms to the general-public, and showcasing the many goods and services they provide.

On Sunday 12th June, the South Avon and Stour Agricultural Society held their Open Farm Sunday event at Bisterne Estate near Ringwood. The event was free and provided over 40 attractions for families to enjoy including woodland crafts, bee-keeping, guided dairy tours, as well as fly-fishing lessons.

An aerial view of Bisterne Estate during Open Farm Sunday – a popular day!

Rupert Brewer – Bisterne Estate Gamekeeper and conservation enthusiast, teaching visitors wildlife monitoring skills with an activity showing how to identify various animal droppings.

The event was also attended by various Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) Scientists from our Predation, Wetlands and Farmland Ecology teams, showing projects run by the Trust, in which Bisterne Estate has been involved in over a number of years.

The Waders for Real project was shared with visitors to highlight the hard work carried out by the estate and their farming neighbours throughout the Avon Valley, to improve breeding wader success. With the efforts of improved nest and chick rearing habitat, along with predator exclusion and legal predator control, the project members have achieved an impressive increase in breeding waders and continues to carry out this work together.

Waders for Real present at Open Farm Sunday to share information on wader conservation.

Lizzie Grayshon, GWCT Wetlands Ecologist, works with the estate to help improve breeding wader success, and is facilitator of the Avon Valley Farmer Cluster

The Owl Box Initiative works with 6 Farmer Clusters in Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset to inspire farmers and communities to work for the conservation of the barn owl. Bisterne Estate, as part of the Avon Valley Farmer Cluster, received new barn owl nest boxes from the project to add to their existing nest box network, and a number of new boxes have been made by estate members. Annual visits by licenced individuals are made to all boxes across the entire cluster to monitor the local barn owl population, in addition to other research activities, to help guide conservation decisions.

The Owl Box Initiative stand sharing information of the project’s conservation, research and engagement activities.

Bisterne Estate includes a tract of New Forest lowland heath habitat where curlew breed, and is involved in research being carried out by GWCT to understand more about why Curlew in the New Forest are failing to breed successfully. Nest cameras are being used to understand the main causes of nest failure across the Forest and working alongside Forestry England, GWCT is using science to help drive a strategic and focused wildlife management plan aimed at recovering the increasingly fragile New Forest Curlew population.

New Forest Curlew research stand, demonstrating nest cameras and fox diet research

Open Farm Sunday is a wonderful way for people to understand where their food comes from and how it is produced, and to raise awareness of how farmers are working to care for the environment. We would like to say thank you to Bisterne Estate for their kind invitation to attend the event, and with a whopping 5,000 visitors during the day, it was certainly a great success.

All that’s left to say is, next year, make sure to visit a farm near you!


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