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Wildlife

We have the most amazing wildlife on on our 52 acre farm at Higher Wiscombe. When we bought the farm in 2003 the first thing we saw were the soaring Buzzards, hence our logo. This part of East Devon is between the Exe and the Axe estuaries and is a major migration route for birds, so we get some unusual visitors too. We have not put anything on our land since we bought it fifteen years ago, and neither did Carol, the previous owner of another fifteen years. As a result the pastures and hedges are rich is flora and fauna. We have abundant Orchids and the Bluebells form a carpet in late spring. We have a rich population of Mammals that are commonly seen by our guests, these include Badgers, Fallow and Roe Deer, Foxes, Rabbits and most recently an Otter was spotted on one of our ‘leaky Dams”. A Farm Survey by FWAG found that we have Dormice too, but these are hard to spot. We have created Bat dormitories too as the valleys from Branscombe to Southleigh have some of the UK’s rarest bats. We are part of the East Devon AONB group that monitors local Bat populations. We have six species here, including the rare Greater Horseshoe Bat. Bats are initially hard to spot, however with a bit of help it’s quite easy and we even have a Bat listening kit to aid spotting and identification.

We also offer Farm Tours to our guests, these can be either on foot, or partially in a 4WD for those less mobile. We can show how farm diversification does not have to harm the local environment whilst still running a successful business. The tour includes covering the history of the farm, as well as some of the technical innovations we have installed, from a biomass boiler using local chip, to our own water and waste system, as well as the restored orchard and wildlife. Tours are subject to Alistair being here, (he is most of the time) and are free of charge to our guests. Please contact us for details.

Below you can see the full list of wildlife that has been spotted here.

Birds:

The following species of birds have been spotted us on Higher Wiscombe’s 52 acre estate:

Cormorant – Grey Heron – Canada Goose – Mallard – Buzzard – Sparrowhawk – Kestrel – Peregrine – Pheasant – Red Legged Partridge – Grey Partridge – Moorhen – Lapwing – Snipe – Woodcock – Black headed Gull – Common Gull – Lesser Black backed Gull – Herring Gull – Common Tern – Wood pigeon – Stock Dove – Nightjar – Guinea Fowl – Silver Pheasant – Collared Dove – Cuckoo – Barn Owl – Little Owl – Tawny Owl – Swift – Green Woodpecker – Great Spotted Woodpecker – Lesser Spotted Woodpecker – Skylark – Swallow – House Martin – Pied Wagtail – Grey Wagtail – Wren – Dunnock – Robin – Redstart – Blackbird – Mistle Thrush – Song Thrush – Fieldfare – Redwing – Stonechat – Garden Warbler – Willow Warbler – Goldcrest – Long Tailed Tit – Blue Tit – Great Tit – Nuthatch – Treecreeper – Jay – Magpie – Jackdaw – Rook – Carrion Crow – Raven – Starling – House Sparrow – Chaffinch – Greenfinch – Goldfinch – Linnet – Bullfinch – Yellowhammer – Wild Turkey – Little Egret

Total 73 species
The following species of birds were spotted by an RSPB Farm-watch survey that took place during 2006:

Lesser Redpoll

Meadow Pipit

Spotted Flycatcher

Total 76 species

Mammals:

Otter

Badger

Fox

Dormouse

Rabbits

Fallow Deer (we are regularly visited by a light cream herd)

Roe Deer (including a very pale almost Albino male)

Stoat

Moles

Bats: (We have a DEFRA Bat Licence).

Lesser Horseshoe

Greater Horseshoe

Pipistrelle

Long Eared

Serotine

Natterer

We have a County Wildlife Site:

Our wet wood has been designated as a County Wildlife Site for its mosaic of different habitats including unimproved and semi-improved natural grassland, wet grassland, wet woodlands, pond and stream. We are currently carrying out a suitable management plan for these areas, which as included installing ‘leaky dams’ which slow the water running down the foyle towards the River Coly. It is on one of theses dams that the Otter was spotted. The County Wildlife Site stretches beyond our boundary.

Great Oak Tree:

At the top of our wet wood there is an ancient pollarded oak, believed to be in excess of 500 years old. This tree has been selected as one of the Great Trees of East Devon, and is of particular note because several of the limbs can clearly be seen to have reached down to the ground. Only one remains complete and this looks to have re-rooted and risen upwards again, making this oak, called the Wiscombe Oak, a phoenix tree. We have just lost another limb from this great tree so we ask that it is no longer climbed under any circumstances. It has also been listed in the Ancient Tree Register.

RSPB:

We were really pleased when we managed to secure a Farm Watch scheme to assess and advise on our birdlife. The report not only details birds that were spotted at Higher Wiscombe during the three day study but also advises on how to manage the habitat to best advantage. We will be combining this with advice from East Devon AONB and Devon Wildlife Trust in order to maintain the landscape here for all to enjoy.

Devon Wildlife Trust:

We are Family Members of Devon Wildlife Trust and each of the barns has a collection box for DWT and details of the local reserves which are numerous, donations gratefully received. Over £200 has been donated so far.

Wildlife Diary:

We maintain a wildlife diary and ask guests on their feedback forms to report any wildlife they have seen