Originally from Hertfordshire, Leica Nature Ambassador, Luke Massey now lives in Asturias, Northern Spain, on an old cattle farm he’s named Wild Finca.
In this two-part blog wildlife photographer and filmmaker Luke, talks about the Wild Finca vision and the wildlife that calls it home.
We have a few star species at Wild Finca s tarting with a magical little critter, that I challenge anyone not to fall in love with – and that’s the glowworm. Come summer you get these little fairy lights twinkling about the place and they are the glowworms. Glowworms thrive on scrub, which we have quite a bit of at Wild Finca and it provides habitat for all manner of creatures. A glowworm isn’t much bigger than your thumb nail but they produce this beautiful glowing light, that catches your eye as you walk by in the night. Sadly they are declining hugely due to pesticide use, but also habitat loss as they really need that scrub to breed.
We have grazing livestock, although I don’t really like to call them that, they are more co-collaborators on the land. We have three horses and sixteen mountain sheep. They’re kept organically, with no chemical wormer etc. We move them frequently so they don’t have a high parasite load in their body. Not only does their grazing create a mosaic of important habitats on the land, but their dung is then fed on by flies and dung beetles which in turn provide food for birds and reptiles and so forth. So you have this constant cycle, everything links up. And that is a key focus for us here at Wild Finca, ensuring these cycles remain intact or are recreated. There is a huge disconnect from wildlife in the world, and we are trying to show that everything is connected.As soon as that disconnection occurs, that’s when you see problems occurring.
Red backed shrikes are another of our showstoppers here at Wild Finca. I believe they were lost as a breeding bird in 1989 in the UK, and it is also declining here in Spain due to habitat destruction and lack of food (again! – there’s a trend here). Here at the farm we are incredibly fortunate to have two pairs that do this epic migration from southern Africa, all the way up to northern Spain. They spend the summer raising a brood and feeding on the dung beetles, and then head all the way back down to countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe in the autumn.
We also have species like Egyptian vulture visiting Wild Finca regularly, and we think nesting nearby. It is one of the fastest declining vulture species in Europe, but Spain is a strong hold for them. Very rarely we will see the cinereous vulture. Commonly we get the griffon vulture, huge birds that are important caretakers of the land. The real highlight for me, when it comes to the big birds, has to be the golden eagle which we get over the land quite frequently, but we have had it perched in our trees at Wild Finca as well.
Mammal wise we’ve got red squirrel, pine marten, badger, fox, roe deer, wild boar and genet. Then you’ve got the invertebrates, glowworms and dung beetles as I have already mentioned but also a beautiful array of butterflies. An amazing variety of amphibians and reptiles also call Wild Finca home. We have snakes like the seoanei viper which is endemic to northern Spain and that is doing really well here, and in turn that population has attracted species like short-toed eagles which prey on snakes. It’s amazing to see them hovering over our wild patches, swooping in on an unlucky snake every now and again.
In autumn when it starts getting a bit cooler and damper and we have an amazing migration of fire salamanders. These incredible black and yellow amphibians come out with the first rains in the first week or so of November, and you can be literally tripping over them as they move from the long grass to breed.
Our aim at Wild Finca is to inspire people and what with coronavirus that has been a bit tricky, so we have been trying to do so virtually! Every month of 2021 we are creating a short film about all life here, and we’ve called the series ‘Notes from Wild Finca’.
You can watch it here:
February: https://ko-fi.com/post/Notes-from-Wild-Finca–February -V7V84H45Q
April: https://ko-fi.com/post/Notes-from-Wild-Finca- -April-U7U5536K2
With restrictions now easing for visitors, we are starting to put together some experiences so that people can visit Wild Finca.
Keep an eye on our website for more details about these experiences and sign up for the Wild Finca newsletter to keep up to date with all things Wild Finca here: https://www.wildfinca.com/ and you can follow us on Instagram @ wildfinca .