It is not only birds that can make use of the fields during the winter months. Brown hares will happily nibble away at winter cereal growth to sustain themselves into the spring, when the warmer weather produces a growth surge in the crops and instils in them the urge to find a mate; this is when we notice them most vividly, frolicking and chasing each other about the landscape in their fabled 'Mad March' pantomime. Hares are not the only mammals to frequent the farmland environment; field voles scurry about beneath the rough and matted grasses of grazing meadows and pastures whilst bank voles and wood mice clamber amongst the hedgerows and ditches, feeding on seeds during the winter and spring, followed by the fruits of summer and autumn.
The decline of insects in the intensely farmed prairies is well documented and a cause for concern. It is not all doom and gloom however; modern, well educated farmers now recognise the importance of insects within the landscape, particularly those that assist with the pollination of crops. It is becoming more common to see food crops planted in partnership with colourful strips of nectar rich plants, providing food for bees, beetles and butterflies; the very animals that pollinate the crops we need for our own day-to-day sustenance.
Large round bales of straw are a familiar scene during the late weeks of summertime, a period of great activity on Norfolk's farmland. Paradoxically, as farmers are busy gathering the harvest, wildlife is taking it easy after the hectic days of summer. (PANORAMA COMPOSED FROM EIGHT IMAGES)