Downhead is recognised as being home to one of the most significant breeding populations of Brown Hairstreak Butterflies in the `UK, along with a host of other Bonn, Bern, Countryside and Wildlife Act, RDB and UK BAP species as well as a wide variety of native Flora and Fauna. Whether common or rare, we aim to promote and protect each and every species by giving them the necessary habitats within which to thrive. We have ancient ridge and furrow, species rich zero input grassland full of wildflowers, 17kms of native grass borders with their abundance of often rare wildflowers, Beetlebanks and ponds, a Medieval village site (Scheduled Monument) that is mentioned in the Doomsday Book as part of the Muchelney Abbey Estate, complete with its village fishpond. An old White Lias quarry, full of Pyramidal Orchids and Oxeye Daisies, and ancient woodland. This really is, wonderful, wild Somerset.
Our resident recorder Mark Fletcher has recorded 29 species of butterfly at Downhead and typically counts over 500 Brown Hairstreak eggs a year. White Letter Hairstreak eggs have also been recorded - these butterflies require flowering elm for the larvae and the population is in serious decline.
At Downhead we strive to farm in a way which meets our food needs, gives nature a home and supports a diverse and thriving environment. We have identified over 50 different species from Yellow Hammers to the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker; we also have over 30 pairs of breeding Skylark.
Mammals & Minibeasts
Our holistic agriculture practices emphasises how we help to look after important habitats and food sources for our Roe Deer, Brown Hare, Dormice (habitats) and Badgers, among many others. We also have various bats at Downhead including the Lesser Horseshoe, Pipistrelle, Brown Long Eared, Serotine & Noctule.
Look out for too for ladybirds, midges, flies, shield bugs, bumblebees and a wide variety of beetles!
Our 15 hectares (37 acres) of species rich, floristically enhanced grassland is home to over 200 species of flora. Not only is it beautiful, but it also performs a variety of important functions in nature and plays a vital part of the maintenance of Downhead Manor Farm's biodiversity.