For the first time in some years, I didn’t fill in the RSPB survey on the local birdlife population.

It wasn’t worth it as we don’t have many small birds now. No doubt this would be ammunition for television naturalists et al. They will put it down to the ripping out of hedges, excessive spraying of insecticides or something else farmers do to damage habitat.

Actually, it’s rather simpler than that. A sparrowhawk has located our bird feeder, though the various tits and the spotted woodpecker are safe because they dine from the peanut feeder. The sparrows, finches, siskins and robins eat small seeds.

Like the biblical Onan 'who spilled his seed upon the ground', when they feed, seed falls out of the feeder. When they drop down to the ground to continue their meal, they are an easy target for the hawk.

Recent articles in the press about the decline of small birds invariably list how farmers cause this, but never admit the effect of domestic cats or the increase in birds of prey. I read the latest 'State of British Hedgehogs' report which highlighted an increase in the hedgehog population in towns and corresponding decline in the rural areas.

Another article from the British Trust of Ornithology, which also records mammals, stated: “The biggest threat to hedgehogs is habitat loss with a change from pastoral farming to arable crops over the past thirty years. The use of chemicals in gardens and for intensive farming kills the creatures they need for food, and may poison them directly. Many are killed on roads.”

The fact that the decline in hedgehogs and ground-nesting birds coincided with an enormous increase in badgers, is never mentioned.

Of course, farmers must be conscious of the effect of their actions on nature. My fear is that others who absolve themselves of blame have an undue influence on government policies, which will increase our costs with little benefit to the environment.

An immediate concern at Huntlywood is how to clear up the enormous damage caused to our woods by Storm Arwen. I have never in my lifetime seen anything like it.

The only thing similar that I can remember is that in my youth our local woods were in a poor state. In the 1940s, due to rural personnel serving in the armed forces and, after that, the huge labour requirement to ramp up food production, windblow had never been cleared.

It would be two decades before the fallen and tangled trees in our hill woods at Rawburn were tidied up and replanted. In the interim, enough trees remained standing and the strongest branches from the prone trunks grew into scrubby trees which provided some shelter for the hill sheep.

The timber value from the hill woods was, due to their small size and inaccessibility, nil – however their value as shelter was immense.

My father and I planted several new hill woods and, just as important, maintained them through their early years. When I took on the tenancy at Roxburgh Mains, a lowground arable farm, with the co-operation of my landlord, we planted a wood on the north side of the steading.

We planted fast growing and hardy Sitka down the outside, then hardwoods in the middle and decorative trees on the roadside.

Historically, because of the kinder climate they enjoyed, the higher value of the land and to let the breeze into the stackyard, few arable farms had many trees. Our wood, after 30 years, is now about 50 feet high. It is a thing of beauty and helped the farm remain safe from anything named storms have thrown.

When we came to Upper Huntlywood six years ago, the woods on the farm had been badly neglected. Some needed clear felling and replanting. Sales of timber covered the cost.

Other parts required clearing of shrub and removing trees with no potential timber value which should have been thinned years before. This involved chainsaw work, which was costly with little return.

This week, we had a forestry contractor assess the damage and the cost of rectifying it. The wonderful machines at his disposal mean that tidying up will be, even allowing for the tangled nature of the fallen trees, a quick process. He is preparing a budget and suggested that timber sales might cover the cost.

I am doubtful. Due to the current glut, prices have plummeted and costs with everything else we do confound the most conservative estimates. Much of our previous work has been wasted.

When things dry up, whatever happens, we must redd up the mess and replant as cost effectively as we can.

Maybe, like me, you are looking at acres of fallen timber and, at the same time thinking of the mounting cost of heating your home. Help is at hand. 'Norwegian wood, chopping, stacking and drying wood the Scandinavian way', by Lars Mytting, distils the expertise of those with generations of knowledge in a beautiful coffee table book. Amazingly, considering its subject, it topped the best seller list for months.

I was recently reminded that, two months after Her Majesty ascended the throne, I went to Longformacus Primary School. A general favourite was our nature rambles.

As with the hill woods on the farm, many of the huge oak, ash and beech trees behind the school were lying prone and had never been sawn up. We loved to watch the beautiful green woodpeckers tapping the rotten bark. They came for a few years.

After the woodlands were tidied up, they left and never returned. In 70 years, I have never seen another green woodpecker. For some years, we will have plenty suitable habitat, so I would love to renew our acquaintance.

But this time they will face hooked beaks and sharp talons. The balance of nature is delicate and has been fine tuned over centuries.

It is time those who prohibit control of raptors and apex predators admit that their effect on the environment is every bit as detrimental as those in times past who blasted everything that popped its head up.