Do your bit to help preserve bird species by taking part in this invaluable annual survey
Gamekeepers, farmers and land managers across the country are being asked to pledge their support to the Big Farmland Bird Count.
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust-led project is back for the sixth successive year. The GWCT is asking you to spend 30 minutes spotting species on a patch of land between the 8 and 17 February. Last-year saw 1,000 people take part in the count, recording 121 species across 950,000 acres. A total of 25 red-listed species were recorded, with five appearing in the 25 most commonly seen species list including fieldfares and starlings, which were seen on nearly 40% of the farms taking part.
Peter Thompson, a biodiversity adviser at GWCT, said that he hoped more people would get involved this year. “There are around 212,000 farm holdings and around 3,000 full-time gamekeepers in the UK (and a similar number who do the job part-time). Therefore, less than one in every 200 (0.4%) of potential counters took part last year. ”
The NFU is sponsoring the count this year and Minette Batters, its president, will be bird-spotting on the first day on her Wiltshire farm.
“The NFU is extremely pleased to be sponsoring the 2019 GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count. This event highlights perfectly how farmers balance excellent conservation work on farms across the country alongside producing the nation’s food,” she said.
“Over the past four decades, farmers have carried out a huge amount of work to encourage wildlife and are responsible for protecting, maintaining and enhancing 70% of the nation’s countryside. I would encourage as many farmers as possible to participate during the event in February as this is crucial to the survival and protection of many farmland bird species.”
The Country and Land Business Association (CLA) is also backing the count. Mark Tufnell, its vice-president, said: “Rural land managers, from farmers to gamekeepers, are doing a huge amount of good work to help farmland birds, but what’s really important is that we have the best records we can of what they are delivering.
“Anyone who works on and cares for the land is vital in helping to ensure the future survival of many of the country’s most cherished farmland bird species. So the more people we have participating, the better. I urge CLA members to pick up their binoculars and take part.”
At the end of the count the results will be analysed by the GWCT and all participants will receive a report of the findings.
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How to take part
1. Download your count sheet at the newly launched BFBC website
2. Count your birds on a day between 8 and 17 February. Spend about 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of the farm.
3. Once you’ve completed your count, submit your results.
Aside from the NFU sponsorship and the backing of the CLA, the farmland bird count is also being supported by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF), Kings (the specialist crops company), and Perdix (the wildlife research and equipment specialist).