Goldfinch eating seeds

Take Part in the Big Farmland Bird Count

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) is launching the first annual Big Farmland Bird Count and urging all farmers to take part.

The aim is to help determine how our farmland bird species are faring and to highlight the good conservation work being undertaken on farmland. The count will take place between the 1 and 7 February and you are invited to spend about 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of the farm. A pilot scheme earlier this year took in more than 10,000 hectares across 30 farms and recorded 69 species, from tree sparrows and yellowhammer to barn owls, kestrels and buzzards.

Much of the good work done by farmers and gamekeepers to help reverse farmland bird decline goes unrecorded. The count will remedy that and help farmers record the effect of any conservation schemes currently being initiated on their land such as supplementary feeding or growing wild bird seed crops and game cover crops.

Jim Egan, from the GWCT, said: “Farmers and gamekeepers are responsible for managing the largest songbird habitat in this country on their land. Their efforts to ensure the future survival of many of our most cherished farmland bird species such as skylark, yellowhammer, corn buntings and wild grey partridges are therefore vital.

“We believe that having a better understanding of which conservation measures are proving to be attractive to birds and which are not will be enormously helpful in adding to our understanding of why our birds are still declining.”

He added: “The Big Farmland Bird Count is a very satisfying way for people to discover the wide variety of bird species that live on a farm and the results can be surprising. We hope it will spur people on to do even more work for their farmland birds in the future and will act as a catalyst for them to start building their own long-standing wildlife records.”

If you want to take part you can download the count sheets here and take them into the field to record sightings. You will then be able to submit your results online or by post in February 2014. More information can be found here.


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FWAG East is part of the FWAG Association: FWAG East CIC is a limited company registered in England. Registered No: 08776388. Thanks to Chris Loades for images: