On the farm
The Johnson Family have been proud Leicestershire farmers for generations, and as a family we have always had a great appreciation of the land and all who we share it with. Phil's heartfelt enthusiasm for birds and wildlife led to the creation of new habitats across the farm providing essential food and breeding habitats, whilst still balancing the need for food production. Over the past thirty years we have enhanced our environment providing new habitats for birds and mammals.
Helping our birds and wildlife
Our passion for birds is evident on the farm, where over the past thirty five years we have enhanced the environment to encourage more birds and wildlife. Hedgerow management, overwintered stubbles, supplementary feeding, grass margins and nest box’s erected are just some of the practices taken to expand the habitats here. We work closely with the RSPB who have conducted many bird surveys to give us a great picture of the numbers and species of birds, both of which have increased over the past thirty years. We are home to an extensive variety including lapwings, sky larks, red kites, tree sparrows and house sparrows and have seen a large increase in the brown hare population.
Simple practices around the farm can really help our birds such as ensuring a puddle in the yard for the house martins and swallows, nesting material and spinning seed cleanings on the margins for additional food in periods of harsh weather. We farm sympathetically with the birds presenting fields with different crops next to each other, hedge trimming only in the depths of winter, cultivating late to leave the stubbles to glean, and moving to spring sowing leaving feeding and breeding habitats for the birds.
Sharing the Farm
In addition to the RSPB surveys, our local bird watching group constructed over twenty bird boxes in spinneys around the farm in order to provide nesting sites for our farmland birds. These are monitored each year and give us a great picture of species of birds nesting, and are targeting red list species such as the tree sparrow. Our local ringing group have erected kestrel and owl boxes, we have had bee hives, badger surveys, hedgehog research.... to name but a few. In short, we are just so pleased to share our wonderful environment with anyone who enjoys it and the creatures who inhabit it as much as we do!
At Rectory Farm we take great pride in our ability to balance the pressures of modern farming and the need to conserve and enhance the environment. The farm has been involved in many government stewardship schemes, the aim of which are to improve the beauty and diversity of the countryside. Across the holding, substantial wildlife improvements are being made through the creation of grass strips within arable fields, improved hedgerow management and feeding and nesting sites for farmland birds. To encompass all of these farming principles, Rectory farm is an active member of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming).
In acknowledgement of the conservation work on the farm we have won several farming awards including the ‘Most Beautiful Farm Award’ granted for conservation, diversification and public access, FWAG Silver Lapwing Award, regional finalists for the RSPB Nature of Farming Award and finalists in the Farmers Weekly ‘Countryside Farmer of the Year’.
Eyebrook Wild Bird Feeds takes its name from the reservoir at the heart of our farm, which is a haven for birds and wildlife and renowned bird watching reserve.
Eyebrook Reservoir is a beautiful stretch of water straddling the Leicestershire/Rutland border. The reservoir was created by the damming up of the Eye Brook in 1937 – the year after our granddad took the tenancy of Rectory Farm. It was built between 1937 and 1940 by Stewarts & Lloyds to supply water to their Corby steel works, now part of Tata Steel, although steel production has ceased in Corby, water is still used to cool tubing made in the town.
During the Second World War it was used in May 1943 as a practice site for the Dambuster raids, standing in for the Möhne Reservoir. A plaque commemorates this and we all enjoy regular fly pasts by a Lancaster to commemorate the raids, most recently in May 2018 for the 75th Anniversary
The reservoir is SSSI and an important site for wintering wildfowl, such as wigeon, teal, mallard and pochard. Other habitats are marsh, mudflats, grassland, broad-leaved woodland and plantations.
There is no public access to the reservoir, which is reserved for a trout fishery, but the footpaths on our farm provide spectacular views of the reservoir and Eye and Welland Valley’s. You can also view the bird life at the reservoir from the road around the Northern edge of the water. The northern inflow end is shallow and at low water levels, areas of mud are exposed that attract numerous waders, including Dunlin and Golden Plover. In winter, rare grebes, smew, and winter swans are frequent visitors, and in the summer months the ospreys nesting at Rutland Water will visit to feed. For recent sightings at Eyebrook visit lros.org.uk