Today is World Migratory Bird Day – and a time to celebrate the many migratory birds which benefit from the wildlife-rich habitats on CRT land. 

This year’s theme focuses on the importance of insects for migratory birds – and highlights concerns related to decreasing populations of insects. 

Monitoring migratory birds is an important part of the work done by our conservation officers at the CRT – and this year we’ve been delighted to survey many distinct species across our farms. 

Conservation officer Vince Lea is currently studying a chiffchaff nest at Lark Rise Farm, Cambridgeshire.

Most of the UK’s chiffchaffs are summer migrants. They breed in the UK before heading for warmer temperatures for the Autumn Most migrate to the UK from Africa. There are, however, more and more staying in the UK all year round, due to our warming climate. 

Chiffchaff, Turnastone Court Farm, Katie Morgans

Chiffchaff at Turnastone Court Farm, Katie Morgans

Whitethroat at Turnastone Court Farm, Ruth Moss

Whitethroat at Turnastone Court Farm, Ruth Moss

Their song is a two-note repetition, which gives the birds their name,” said Vince.

They flit through trees and shrubs and have a distinctive tail-wagging movement.  

They eat insects, either in flight or picking out from trees, so a strong population of insects is crucial for their survival. 

“We’ve also seen whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, blackcap, swallow, yellow wagtail at Lark Rise and, if we’re lucky, we might get hobby, which chase large insects, again this year,” said Vince. 

Across the CRT’s other properties, there are different migratory species such as house martins, redstarts and spotted flycatchers at Turnastone Court Farm in Herefordshire and nightjars and woodcock at Green Farm in Surrey. 

Swallow at Awnells Farm, Ben Stoney

Swallow at Awnells Farm, Ben Stoney



While the CRT is working hard to help reverse biodiversity decline, CRT trustee Nicholas Watts said the intensive farming in the UK is very bad for wildlife but he advises farmers to look at the Sustainable Farming Incentive.  

“All the pesticides we use and the size of our fields are probably the most damaging," he said. “Insecticides kill the insects, pesticides starve the insects by killing the plants that they live on. Birds need these insects to live. Wildlife had been declining on our farms for the past 60 years. I hope that World Migration Day will make more people aware of how amazing birds are."

How you can help 

We can’t do it without you. If you want to help us protect local wildlife you can support the CRT in any number of ways, from joining as a CRT Friend to volunteering on one of our farms and attending our events. You can also sign-up to our monthly newsletter 'CRT News' for regular updates from our farms, straight to your inbox. 

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Published: May 2024