Richard & Brid Duff
Richard Duff recently took the decision to move away from farming and is dedicating some of his farmland and most of his time to a wildlife project on his land. Much of the farm has now been rented out to a neighbouring farmer. Richard keeps about 30 heifers over the summer months and sells them on in the autumn time. The farm is now very extensively managed and external inputs are minimal. The main focus has now shifted to observing and recoding the tremendous amount of wildlife on the farm and a wildlife photography project called Irish Photography Hides.
Richard has always been interested in nature. He works with Birdwatch Ireland and the National Biodiversity Data Center recording insect, bird and mammal species on and off the farm. Thick and mature hedgerows around the land provide an important habitat for much of the wildlife, and Richard has sown wild bird cover crops for about 20 years which provides extra food for wildlife over the winter months. Frequent residents and visitors to the farm include the stoat, pine martin, red squirrel, an impressive variety of bird species including owls, buzzards, sparrowhawks, and many garden and farmland birds. “The yellowhammer has returned to the farm after being missing for years. I saw 8 pairs of yellowhammers in the bird cover crop last winter.” Richard has recently constructed a bat roost inside a refurbished Lime Kiln which he hopes will attract bats to the land. He takes great pride in the quantity and variety of wildlife that he has recorded and photographed on his farm.
Richard and Brid have taken over the Duff family farm about 28 years ago, in this time the farm has become a mecca to common and rare native wildlife. They have participated in all the Reps schemes since Reps 1 through AEOS and Glas. During all this time they have managed their hedgerows to allow food reserves build up for the wildlife over the winter. For approximately 20 years they have planted Wild Bird cover every year to provide extra food for wildlife over the winter. Over the last 10 years Richard has developed his passion for wildlife by taking up wildlife photography and he started off by constructing a small hide which he transported on the front loader and placed in the wild bird cover to try to see what type of birds and other wildlife he could identify and photograph. Then 4 years ago he built a permanent structure in the corner of the bird cover field and he was amazed at what type of wildlife was living around his farm. In Jan 2020 he opened up his farm to other wildlife enthusiasts and photographers, so he started Irish Photography Hides see (www.IrishPhotographyHides.com ). Since then, he refurbished an old Lime Kiln which was falling down. He constructed a bat roost inside the Kiln with some guidance from Ricky Whelan from the Irish Wildlife Trust. Here he has set up a second wildlife hide. Richard and Brid have not used any rodenticide for the last number of years and so have seen 3 Barn Owls and a Long-eared Owl hunting on the farm. Richard carries out many wildlife surveys for Birdwatch Ireland and the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC). He does the Countryside Bird survey (CBS), The Garden Bird survey (GBS), Garden Butterfly survey, Five Visit Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, A Garden Moth Survey as well as recording all the wildlife on his farm with the NBDC. This year Richard received a Certificate of Outstanding Achievement from NBDC for submitting more than 500 records in 2021, most of which were from his farm. With Richard’s passion for nature and Biodiversity I would consider himself and Brid as worthy candidates for a ‘Farming For Nature” award.
Nominator: Ricky Whelan, Project Officer, Birdwatch Ireland