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Wildlife Of Thrussendale Farm

  • Wed 2nd Feb, 2022

Wildlife of Thrussendale farm

The Yorkshire Wolds is a large-scale landscape shaped by chalk and generations of farmers and communities who have worked on the land. Hidden away in lost and peaceful places are secret valleys teaming with wild flowers and escarpments with breath-taking views. Thrussendale Farm lies on the northern edge of the Yorkshire Wolds with extensive views overlooking the Vale of York, Howardian Hills, and the North York Moors National Park beyond.

View from Wooing Nab © Richard BainesView from Wooing Nab © Richard Baines

In spring 2019 Roddy Hamilton contacted me to ask if I could carry out a wildlife survey of his farm. He was planning to diversify from commercial farming and start a tourism venture. He was very keen to both improve the value of his farm for wildlife and share this with new visitors. This creative modern approach to farming has always inspired me so I was excited to be part of his plans.

My first job was to audit the habitats and species on the farm. We carried out three visits, writing lots of notes on what we found, mapping the most valuable habitat areas, taking lots of photos and then recommending measures to enhance these features. Here are two of my favourite places on the farm.

View from the farm © Richard BainesView from the farm © Richard Baines

Wooing Nab

What a great name for a hill! Thoughts of couples from nearby villages climbing the hill and sneaking a kiss amongst the wild flowers crossed my mind as I wrote up my natural history notes. There are other local names for the escarpment such as Curlew Hill. With this in mind I was excited to see two curlews from the hill in spring last year, one singing from the grassland below the hill. The same ancient sound heard by many generations before me, made even more priceless by the peace and tranquillity of the surroundings.

Curlew © Richard BainesCurlew © Richard Baines

Below my feet on the hill were some beautiful wild flowers many of which are easy to miss unless you sit down and look carefully. Wild Thyme is a chalk loving plant with purple-pink flowers and a great herby scent. Once common throughout the Wolds it is now unfortunately restricted to only the best pockets of flower rich grasslands.

Wild Thyme © Richard BainesWild Thyme © Richard Baines

Close by was a Harebell, now recognised as Yorkshire’s county wild flower. I was not surprised to see this in July but when I returned in November, a flowering Harebell was an unusual find.

Harebell flowering in November © Richard BainesHarebell flowering in November © Richard Baines

Private Hill Grassland and Scrub

Surrounding the geodesic accommodation domes is an area of valuable rough grassland. When we see tall rough grassland, we don’t often get excited but when a kestrel or barn owl sees this habitat, they get very excited! Amongst the tough stems and decaying vegetation small mammals such as short-tailed field vole and bank vole make their home. Great food for birds of prey. Every time I have visited the farm, I have found a kestrel hovering above the domes. A fantastic location where they can catch the breeze above the grassland rich in food.

Common Kestrel © Richard BainesCommon Kestrel © Richard Baines

Nearby is an area of thick scrub. When I see scrub, I get excited because this is a habitat which has declined a great deal in the countryside, very undervalued but very good for wildlife. On my winter survey a flock of yellowhammers flew into the scrub, flashes of bright yellow diving for cover. Birds need three things; food, water and shelter. Scrub provides two of these; food and shelter throughout the year.

Yellowhammer © Richard BainesYellowhammer © Richard Baines

Improving the Farm for Wildlife

One of our first jobs this year will be to erect two barn owl nest boxes. Barn Owls have suffered from a lack of natural nest sites in the wider countryside. These tailor-made boxes built by Green Future Building will hopefully bring back these wonderful birds to the farm…

Sunset over the domes © Roddy HamiltonSunset over the domes © Roddy Hamilton

Visiting the Farm

The best way to visit Thrussendale Farm is to stay in one of their luxury ‘Private Hill’ geodesic domes. To see the accommodation, Click Here. With extensive views across North Yorkshire this is a unique place to stay. Whilst staying on the hill, why not join one of our YCN tailor made wildlife trips on the farm with an expert guide. For more information contact richard Baines on

Richard Baines


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