South Yeo Farm West's logo of a barn owl surrounded by the farm name


Devon Ruby cows in the culm grasslands conservation grazing

The Culm Grassland

The 5 acre wood contains a bone shaped area of Culm grassland. Culm grassland is rich in purple moor-grass and rush pasture, a habitat for many interesting and rare species of plant and animal life and until recent years was common in Devon before much of it had been drained and ploughed. Defra and Natural England are trying to encourage its maintenance, re-creation and restoration.

There are a huge number of plant species in addition to the purple-moor grass in our patch of culm grassland, including the wonderfully named bog asphodel, bugle, devil’s-bit scabious, hemp-agrimony, lesser water-parsnip, ragged-robin, southern marsh and heath spotted orchids, sneezewort and whorled caraway, to list a few. These plants support some of the loveliest and increasingly rare creatures; curlews and reed bunting inhabit this type of landscape, kestrels and barn owls hunt over culm where voles are to be found, marbled white and marsh fritillary butterflies thrive here as does the narrow-bordered bee hawk-moth.

After a survey by the Devon Wildlife Trust, Moor Wood became an officially designated Devon County Wildlife Site. There are over 80 species present in the wood including twelve ancient woodland indicators: hard-fern, remote sedge, wood-sedge, creeping soft-grass, bluebell, holly, yellow pimpernel, three-nerved sandwort, wood sorrel, primrose, red currant and field-rose.

To maintain the culm grassland for these diminishing species the grass is grazed by our Devon Ruby cattle at the right time of year – in late summer – to encourage new growth in spring.

Culm grassland at South Yeo Farm West
Heath Spotted Orchids at South Yeo Farm West
Young Devon Ruby cows in the culm grassland at South Yeo Farm West

Flora and Fauna

A number of the fields and all eleven kilometres of hedgerow have slowly been restored and managed to increase the varieties of flora and fauna, and dormouse, bird and bat boxes have been made and put up across the farm. There is evidence of dormice in a number of hedgebanks, and the species they rely on, hazel and honeysuckle, are found in abundance in the wood and hedgerows.

Bird boxes of varying size and design have been installed to attract kestrels, tawny owls, little owls, woodpeckers and various small birds. Barn owls are regularly heard and seen hunting the fields, particularly during haymaking and barn owl boxes have been put in to the barn roofs and are being used. Tawny owls are heard frequently at night and sit on the roof of the house, hooting directly down the chimney. As well as the regular nuthatches, greater spotted woodpeckers, buzzards, finches, magpies, sparrows, crows, jackdaws, wrens, robins and tits, we have snipe, grey partridge, sparrowhawks and heron on the farm.

Bats are common and whiskered bats (Myotis mystacinus), common pipistrelles (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), brown long-eared bats (Plecotus auritus), natterer’s bats (M.nattereri) and Daubenton’s bats are all present on the farm.

Wild red deer and fallow deer are seen fairly regularly across the farm, and there is evidence of otters less than a mile away, and we have built an otter holt above the river to encourage these fabulous animals.

Barn owl in a nest box at South Yeo Farm West
Wild mushrooms at South Yeo Farm West
Swall nest filled with chicks at South Yeo Farm West

 South Yeo Farm West's logo of a barn owl surrounded by the farm name