I have now completed my annual ecological surveys of the fields south of Addenbrookes Hospital around the Nine Wells nature reserve. The surveys show that the area remains extremely valuable for farmland birds of high conservation concern, with exceptional numbers of grey partridge in the autumn, as well as good numbers of skylark, linnet, yellowhammer, corn bunting and yellow wagtail.
‘The square km south of Addenbrookes has this year supported a grey partridge population of at least 15 spring pairs/km2 and 88 birds/km2 in autumn. The arable farms typical of Cambridgeshire support between 0 and 5 pairs/km2 and 0–20 birds/km2 in the autumn.’
Dick Potts, the UK’s leading partridge expert commented on my 2015 report: ‘I found your study extremely interesting and further evidence that densities can be quite high near urban areas with impending development, with newly planted trees, some very probably insect rich habitat and no shooting. The mild winters must have helped.’
Corn buntings also did particularly well this year, with 6 or 7 pairs, twice the number of the previous year. This is an important population – there are just 11,000 birds in the UK and its recent extinction in Ireland risks being repeated in large parts of Britain if its breeding sites are not protected. The RSPB’s nearby Hope Farm was delighted to have 3 pairs in 2016 in 1.8km2.
There continues to be a risk that a further field of the site may be taken out of the green belt and made available for development, to extend even further the Biomedical campus. I shall be presenting my findings to the Local Plan Inspector at the end of February.
You can download a copy of my reports here.
My reports for 2015 are here: