Janet Sumner visits Herdship Farm in Upper Teesdale.
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This is the wild North Pennines, the very backbone of England.
As rugged as it's beautiful.
And though it might look like a wilderness,
it's here in the upper reaches of Teesdale,
that you'll find one of the richest grasslands in the country.
When spring arrives, this place just bursts into life.
You don't find many farms covered in marsh marigolds
but Herdship Farm is being managed for wildlife
and what's great is the whole experience is laid out on a plate for us all to enjoy.
There are guided walks around the farm.
There's even a leaflet to help you on your way -
it's got a handy little map in it - and everywhere you turn there's something different to see.
The high rainfall and altitude give this part of Upper Teesdale its own distinctive feeling
but it's what's underground that makes this place rather special.
This is sugar limestone.
About 300 million years ago, molten rock rose to the surface here,
forcing its way through the limestone, baking it and changing it for ever.
Now, today, it's pretty crumbly but it's rich in calcium
and it supports some amazing plant life.
The soil, together with the way the pastures are managed,
has provided the ideal home for rare wildflowers
and it's all happened under the careful eye of Kath Toward and her family.
There's a plant in particular they're especially proud of.
-Now, you've brought me here to show me one of the crown jewels of the flower world.
-That's the spring gentian, isn't it?
-Yes, that's the Teesdale gentian.
-That is incredibly rare, isn't it?
It is. There are two or three places in Teesdale where you find this
and we cherish it - it's the Teesdale emblem.
But they're much smaller than I expected. They're tiny!
I can't actually believe that I'm seeing this.
It really is an incredibly vivid blue. It almost looks fake or artificial.
-Yes, it does. Wax-like, really!
-It really stands out.
What's amazing to me is that such a tiny plant
can be so huge in the plant world.
But there's another reason to come here.
This place is just teeming with wading birds.
A good place to base yourself is by the side of a stream.
You've got to keep still and this is all about sitting patiently and waiting.
There's my first customer.
It's a common sandpiper. You can see him bobbing around in the rocks.
See him just bobbing around?
And behind him is, I think, a grey wagtail.
They love these fast-flowing streams.
Oh! And a redshank has just turned up.
Easy to see where he gets his name from - his lovely, long, red legs.
And there's something splashing around in the water there.
I think it's a lapwing. Yep!
Having a bit of a bath.
See? I told you it was worth the wait. There's so much to see here.
Looking after this landscape isn't something that can be done by the farmers on their own.
The Towards work closely with other groups to make sure the delicate balance is maintained.
But just what is it that makes this land such a good place to see so many birds?
It's a question for Nick Mason from the RSPB.
Nick, this is an unlikely environment for such rich wildlife, isn't it?
I suppose it could be seen that way.
When you start to understand why the birds are here
it becomes clear that, although it looks unlikely,
it is actually a fantastic place for birds.
There's some very clear reasons why it's a good farm.
We're standing in the midst of them right now.
-I don't know whether you feel it under your feet, but the soil's quite springy.
It shows that the soil's still very damp here,
even though we're getting into the summer now
and for the waders that come here - lapwing, the snipe, redshank, curlew,
when they come up here in spring, what they're looking to do
is probe down into the soil and extract things like worms and leather jackets from it.
And later on in the season, birds like the meadow pipit, here...
-That one, there?
-Up on the ridge side, if you have a look.
What's it got in its beak?
It's got its beak stuffed full of little insects like crane fly.
Jammed, isn't it? So what, is it taking those to its babies?
Typically, they nest on a bank side, just like this one,
and usually under a little grassy overhang.
All the structure of vegetation that you see, the rushes, globe flowers, the marsh marigolds,
all of that adds up to provide just a fantastic structure for small flying insects.
Let's have a quick look now and see what we can actually get hold of.
I can see things flying over here,
so if I have a few sweeps with my net...
..not let anything get out and then I can... I've got something here.
-Shall we try and get it into this little jar?
-It looks a bit big, actually!
That one went up. Where did it go?
There's just loads, isn't there? Masses and masses.
Yes, just after five minutes of effort,
we've captured seven or eight different species.
Birds like meadow pipits probably capture 300-400 small insects a day
to feed their family at this time of year.
Although we've captured a lot very quickly here, birds need to find that volume of insects every hour
to raise a family successfully. They've got to work really hard.
So, all in all, it ends up being a fantastic place for birds.
Definitely one of the best farms, I think, in England for birds like lapwings.
A wonderful place to see them.
You can do the farm walk around Herdship in just a couple of hours.
It's the most brilliant place to spend a day
and if you come in May and June, at the height of the season,
this place is just guaranteed to blow your socks off.