Local farmer demonstrates commitment to nature

Cecil Nelson (right) shares his tips on helping nature on his farm with David Sandford, Paddy Mackie and Edward Manning-Hambuller.
Cecil Nelson (right) shares his tips on helping nature on his farm with David Sandford, Paddy Mackie and Edward Manning-Hambuller.
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East County Down farmers recently attended a demonstration day to learn how they can help birds and wildlife on their land.

Cecil Nelson from Annadorn Road outside Downpatrick hosted the event to show how wildlife can thrive as part of a productive farm business.

Those attending heard about Cecil’s success in helping threatened seed-eating species such as yellowhammer, which have increased by 100 per cent on his farm in just five years.

Cecil employs a number of agri-environment options, including planting wild bird cover, to ensure birds have an abundant supply of seed throughout the harsh winter months.

Rough grass margins and well-managed hedgerows on his farm also provide plenty of feeding and nesting opportunities in spring and summer.

Philip Carson, RSPB NI conservation advisor, commented: “Cecil’s farm provides a perfect working example of how farmers can make a huge difference for wildlife when given the right support and management advice

“The high level of attendance at this event highlights the fact that many farmers see wildlife as an important part of a healthy countryside, and that they are willing to help it in whatever way they can.”

Local farmer Philip Bell from Ballynahinch added: “The visit to Cecil Nelson’s farm was a great opportunity to meet like-minded farmers with an interest in maintaining and enhancing wildlife.

“Being able to see at first-hand the practices Cecil has put in place as a result of the advice from the RSPB was interesting and useful. The small flock of yellowhammers I saw feeding in the wild bird cover were testament to the success of the project and I’ve been encouraged to employ similar practices within my own farming system in the future.”

The RSPB provides free farmland bird surveys and management advice to farmers within east County Down. To find out how you can help wildlife on your farm, please contact Philip Carson on 028 9049 1547 or email philip.carson@rspb.org.uk.