Blackbirds search in the leaf litter for their prey.

Blackbirds search in the leaf litter for their prey.

This weekend is the Big Garden Birdwatch! The perfect excuse to get outside and meet your wild neighbours. Don’t worry if you haven’t got a garden, there are plenty of wild creatures to discover right on your doorstep and here at Mudchute!

With few leaves on the trees, it’s a great time of year for birdwatching. Keep an eye out for finches and tits in the trees, chattering as they nibble on catkins and buds. Keep an ear out for scolding blackbirds and melodious starlings. And be sure to keep an eye out for the bright orange breast of the robin, a bird that seem ubiquitous in the hedges! Need help identifying a bird you’ve spotted? Be sure to have a look at the RSPB’s what to look out for page. Mudchute is also frequented by a number of more exotic species as well, with wild ring-necked and monk parakeets frequenting the farm. So if you think you hear a parrot squawking overhead, you’re probably right!

Here are just a few of the avifauna that make Mudchute their home! Out birdwatching this weekend? Be sure to share your sightings with the RSPB and us! You can tweet them us @mudchute and be sure to use #Birdwatch!


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Look at those lovely horns!

Look at those lovely horns!

Here at Mudchute, we are hosting the lovely Biddlesden Warrant. This handsome Whitefaced Woodland ram has a lovely temperament and gorgeous set of horns to match. Even more exciting are his genes. Whitefaced Woodlands are a vulnerable native sheep breed, which means there are only 500 – 900 breeding females in the UK. With such a small population, it is very important to ensure we keep our animals healthy and continue to breed to unrelated stock (no mean feat with so few individuals). With a carefully managed breeding programme and working closely with the RBST and breed societies, we hope to be able to help maintain and develop this beautiful hill breed and are delighted to have Warrant on the farm with us. So far he seems to be a hit with our ladies as well!

Warrant checking up on the ewes.

Warrant checking up on the ewes.

You may notice Warrant is wearing a harness. This device is a raddle, which holds a pad of paint or chalk. The raddle lets us know when the ram or tup) “covers” a ewe. Over the next few days you also spot him sniffing at the ewes with his top lip curled back, a behaviour called “flehmen” that helps him detect their hormone levels, which will tell him whether or not they will be receptive to his advances.

Rams are not the only ones who travel for a bit of matchmaking. Two of our Oxford Down ewes have been off to spend some time at Lambourne End with Hannibal the Southdown ram.

All the matchmaking seems to be going well and we hope to welcome lambs in the late spring. Ewes typically give birth after an average of 147 days (about 5 months), but won’t show many outward signs of pregnancy for quite some time as much of the fetal growth takes place in the final 1-2 months of gestation. With a bit of luck, we’ll be expecting at the end of Spring!


Dawn on the big field.

Dawn on the big field.

As we ring in 2015, we’re also excited to start a number of new projects and welcome new volunteers! Are you looking to get more involved with the community this year? Or perhaps you’ve resolved to get outdoors more. If you are an enthusiastic individual who loves Mudchute and is looking to help the community, why not join our team as a volunteer?

Our work would not be possible without our fantastic volunteers, who make contributions across Mudchute. With the help of our new volunteer coordinator, we are excited to be launching several new projects to enhance the park and open spaces and we need your help to make these projects a success.

The Mudchute Shop is being re-launched with new product lines and décor. We would love volunteers to help in the shop during the week and especially at the weekend. This is a fantastic opportunity to gain some valuable experience in a retail environment and a great help.

Horticulture is high on the agenda

Caring for our Trees

Mudchute’s many trees require lots of maintenance and care throughout the year. Learn how to maintain, coppice, prune and even fell trees.

Sustainable Growing

We’ll be looking to grow our own organic vegetables in the allotments, both for sale in the Mudchute Farm Shop as well as for use in Muddy Boots Nursery. We’ll also be growing both annual and perennial flowers, taking cuttings from fruits and ornamental shrubs, and planting a wildflower meadow. Not only will these additions be beautiful all year round, they will also help provide important food sources and habitats for wildlife!

Growing together

Why not join us regularly? We’d like to create horticultural groups for all who would like to learn, participate or share their skills. Whether you would like to learn to basics, increase your knowledge or just get out and about! Volunteering is a great way to develop new skills and chance to meet new people.

Find Out More and Get Involved!

To find out more about volunteering at Mudchute, please visit volunteering page and contact our volunteer coordinator Louise at volunteering@mudchute.org.