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Managing A Small Wildlife Estate UK

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Old Tuesday 9th February 2016, 12:55   #1
Mark Etheridge
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Managing A Small Wildlife Estate UK

Hi Folks

My Brother-in-law has recently purchased a converted country Mill in NE Aberdeenshire and has asked me to oversee the management of the estate to make it wildlife friendly.

What we have is an estate extending to about 8 acres, comprising a narrow strip of river valley which was converted many years ago to contain three small lochs to power the mill, and lined with mature tree plantations of many different types. A quick bird survey one afternoon last month showed most of the usual mixed woodland species to be expected in NE Scotland, plus Red Squirrel and evidence of Roe Deer in the area.

The estate is surrounded by both arable and animal farming, and is something of an oasis in an area of bare fields.

Although I am a keen bird photographer and watcher, I am a bit stumped where to start on this. I have the e-mail address of the RSPB NE Scotland Conservation Officer and will be writing to him soon, but who else is available to give advice?

Also does anyone know a good source of bird nestboxes - I estimate we could erect 20+ of different types, but I haven't so far found anyone giving bulk discounts on such an order.

All advice gratefully received....
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Old Tuesday 9th February 2016, 13:21   #2
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Wow, what an opportunity!

I've been idly looking at buying a patch of woodland (one day, when money permits....) and came across this book (not got it yet) - it's not exactly what you need but I'm sure general management of the wooded areas will be needed, and would expect most, if not all, to be broadly wildlife-friendly -

http://permanentpublications.co.uk/p...-julian-evans/
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Old Tuesday 9th February 2016, 15:26   #3
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What Mark said! Wow!

Looking after and managing 8 acres is a lot of work!

I wouldn't be in any hurry to make changes.

I'd start by mapping out all the habitat and noting areas which could be improved for key species - remember every nature reserve in the country (apart from coastal cliffs perhaps) is managed to some degree. Perhaps fell some of the older trees to make clearings and allow an understorey to grow or, depending on the type of trees, coppice and sell the timber or start up a charcoal making business.

As far as nest boxes are concerned try getting some scrap timber from somewhere and approaching your local cub / scout troops to knock up some nest boxes.
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Old Tuesday 9th February 2016, 15:47   #4
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Just to give you an idea of what is involved, you will find some photos here.

As you can see, the pathways around the lochs are clear, and there is plenty of understorey to be going along with. The lochs are, however, becoming somewhat reed-choked - we were told by the sellers that there are fish in all three lochs, and I have seen two or three Herons on my visits so far.

Thanks for the advice so far.
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Old Tuesday 9th February 2016, 15:57   #5
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I'm not sure i agree with Phil's idea to fell the older trees - old/dead wood is one of the fastest declining habitats in Britain.

I do, however, agree with Phil about taking your time and getting to really know the environment and what species already call it home before you start any work.

I think talking to your local RSPB Conservation Officer is a brilliant idea. They will know what species are under threat in your area and if your estate is suitable to start helping them.

Enjoy this opportunity you have been given. I am very jealous of you (as i'm sure many other on here are!)
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Old Tuesday 9th February 2016, 17:11   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MK90 View Post
I'm not sure i agree with Phil's idea to fell the older trees - old/dead wood is one of the fastest declining habitats in Britain.

I do, however, agree with Phil about taking your time and getting to really know the environment and what species already call it home before you start any work.
Agree a very nice problem to have. I would reiterate the second point above, first know what is there, so total inventories of vascular plants and as much as you can find out about fungi and invertebrates. Local groups might come and do a fungi foray, but the big diversity is likely to be invertebrates.

As a general principle old trees should not be felled and fallen dead wood never removed, but looking at the photos perhaps all the older trees are non-native conifers? in which case they might be better for invertebrates and fungi if felled and allowed to rot than if left standing.
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Old Tuesday 9th February 2016, 17:25   #7
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Just to give you an idea of what is involved, you will find some photos here.
That's so good I want to lick the screen!

Keep us posted, I'd love to know how you progress with this.
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Old Tuesday 9th February 2016, 18:45   #8
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Not only is the place fabulous, but so is the fact that you all want to devote it to wildlife! Simon King has an intesting website showing what he's done to make his own reserve which may give you some ideas http://www.simonkingwildlife.com/
Would love to hear updates when you can!
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Old Monday 22nd February 2016, 13:24   #9
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Hello Mark,
Can I suggest that you contact the local rep for the Scottish Wildlife Trust. They have many years of expertise in managing small mature reserves.

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