Westfield is described as a ‘wildlife oasis’ by our head of wildlife monitoring, Dr Vince Lea. If Vince gives that kind of accolade, then you know something good is happening.  

This 120-acre section of Lark Rise Farm, near Cambridge, is farmed for arable by CRT trustee Tim Scott who is particularly pleased that during 2022, our monitors recorded 72 species of bird and 25 species of butterfly in the Westfield area.  

That’s about 20 per cent of all British bird species and almost 50 per cent of butterflies. Within the 72 bird species recorded, there are also a lot of red-listed species, such as corn bunting, yellowhammer, skylark, linnet, grey partridge, lapwing, and woodcock.  

With such a variety of birds and insects, the real question is why is this parcel of farmland so successful in attracting species? The simple answer is, of course, habitat.  

When the CRT bought the land, the 120 acres of Westfield comprised of one large 100 acre field and a water meadow. It’s now six separate fields, bordered with a combination of hedgerows and beetle banks. The hedgerows aren’t yet as mature as some of those on the Barton side of Lark Rise, but they’re equally mixed in terms of their make-up, with hawthorn, blackthorn, oak, and dogwood among the plant species providing their structure.  

The use of beetle banks as part of the habitat creation delivers on several environmental levels. Firstly, it obviously gives different varieties of beetles a chance to thrive, which in turn creates a natural pesticide control for the farmer. 

The beetles are also food for the abundant birdlife, and as the banks mature, with bramble and other plant life growing on them, they provide additional nesting areas for birds such as partridges, reed buntings, and linnets.  

Butterflies also love Westfield. While they can be seen all across the area, there is a hotspot of habitat provided by an old disused railway line that has matured over the years into a perfect patch of butterfly-friendly countryside.  

The 2022 survey didn’t record any really rare species, but butterflies such as the small and large white, Essex skipper, green-veined white, brown argus, meadow brown, and small heath were recorded in healthy numbers.  

Westfield and the rest of Lark Rise Farm has approximately 20 per cent of its land specifically devoted to wildlife habitat, but Tim Scott is a firm believer in not restricting wildlife to corners of his land and his farming practises encourage biodiversity throughout the land he manages.   

“When the CRT acquired the land at Westfield over 20 years ago, I can tell you that it had virtually no wildlife on it at all, but by adding key habitat features we’ve really been able to build a positive future for farmland wildlife here, as the 2022 monitoring records prove,” said Tim Scott. 

The CRT would like to thank Tony Roberts, Roger Buisson, Vince Lea, Jenny Brightwell, Roger Horton, Tim Scott and Val Perrin for their monitoring efforts.  


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 in-box.

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Read more about our conservation activities protecting wildlife across our farms please see our Wildlife Blog