This week we hear from Clare who works in Admin at CFL:
We are so blessed here at Caring For Life to have this beautiful farm to bring our beneficiaries to so that they can experience the wonders of God’s creation first-hand. Caring for the farm site and the plentiful wildlife is an enjoyable task, but it also provides valuable information which is then collated into an annual conservation report. This report is then used when applying to Trusts for further funding. During the two years of the Covid pandemic, recording of wildlife on site was limited due to the restrictions. So, this year we were excited to get stuck back in and start getting things recorded again!
So far, the main surveys have included nest box monitoring, bumblebee walks, bird watching, butterfly walks, pond dipping and small mammal surveying. We have a lovely volunteer who is coming up to the farm for an afternoon each week to help with these surveys which is a huge help.
Back in February we started by visiting every bird box we have on-site to see if there was any old nest material in them or if they needed repairing, how far off the ground they were situated, the size of the entrance hole and the direction they faced. We also numbered them so we could monitor them more easily through the nesting season. Some were too high to number and check but the total we could access in good condition was 67! Once we had all this basic information, we were ready to start monitoring when the birds started nesting! This started in the first week of May. We found 27 different boxes had fresh nesting material in them and so far, 15 of these have had eggs, chicks and fledged birds. There is something very special about seeing these birds through the cycle of nest building to fledging their young. We have been able to take some lovely photos of the different stages which are going to be made into a slide show for the beneficiaries to enjoy. As well as the Great Tits and Blue Tits which have used the nest boxes, we have also had many birds nesting throughout the farm including, Mistle Thrush, Tree Sparrows, Swallows, Long-Tailed Tits, Robins, and Blackbirds.
Pond dipping once a month since March has also been interesting and the beneficiaries love looking to see what we have found! These very tiny creatures are incredibly intricate and an amazing sight, pointing all the time to our wonderful Creator who made them all. Whilst it is wonderful to see all of these creatures, pond dipping is an important task to check the health of our ponds.
Small mammal monitoring has also been greatly enjoyed by our beneficiaries who have great excitement when looking to see what they have caught and then seeing it scamper away into the undergrowth! Monitoring small mammal numbers is important because a healthy population means there is food for the barn owls we have living on site.
Taking care of the environment has become necessary all over the world, but it has always been important here at Caring For Life because we want to honour the One who created it. Here, we are right in the middle of God’s creation, enabling us to talk to those we support about Him and His love. When someone spots a vole running along the ground, or a brightly coloured shield bug on a plant or deer running across the path in front of them, all these experiences are ones they couldn’t even begin to imagine in the situations and circumstances they come from. By doing this monitoring and focussing closely on different areas, we are enabling a deeper appreciation of the wonder of creation, and God’s great love to us in Jesus. Our prayer is that everyone who visits the farm whether customers or beneficiaries, will all be hugely aware of the God who created it all.