26 April 2002


Peter Hogg

Peter Hogg farms in

partnership with his brother

at Causey Park Farm, near

Morpeth, Northumberland.

Half the 450ha (1100 acre)

heavyland farm is in crops,

mainly winter wheat, barley

and oilseed rape, plus a

few potatoes

I THINK that I am now a criminal. I may well be judged as being on a par with muggers and street robbers and sentenced accordingly. People will give me the sort of look normally reserved for those that throw litter or spit in the street or swear in a public place. Honest citizens will classify me as being worse than football hooligans and ram raiders.

My crime? I have in my possession a dead sparrow hawk. It flew into the glass window of the front porch while chasing one of our few remaining wagtails. Knowing that sparrow hawks are a protected species, I rushed out to try to resuscitate it but to no avail.

Over the past seven years we have been involved in a stewardship agreement to plant up miles of hedging and woodland on our farm. We also let the shooting rights to a small syndicate who have done a superb job in controlling magpies and carrion crows and providing feed through each winter. The result of the two enterprises was a noticeable increase in wildlife.

To see curlews, skylarks and peewits, as well as an abundance of songbirds, is a pleasure to behold. But over the past year, the bird population appears to have fallen back considerably. We do have sparrow hawks, kestrels, goshawks and buzzards but what a shame it is that all that time, money and effort put in merely ends up increasing the population of predators.

Wheats and barleys have received 150kg/ha (120 units/acre) of nitrogen and the sprayer is at work at the moment applying half rate chlormequat with a T1 fungicide of prochloraz plus tebuconazole, again both at reduced rates. Oats so far have had nothing. We are just making a start at planting potatoes, Sante for the local bag trade. It is still a bit sticky underneath so we are hoping for a few more sunny days.

Now, what am I going to do with this hawk carcass? &#42

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