Saturday, February 23, 2019

Farmers urged to sign up for Big Farmland Bird Count

February 1, 2019 by  
Filed under News & Business

Growers and livestock producers are being urged to take part in this month’s Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) – and show how they care for the countryside.

Now in its sixth successive year, the nationwide citizen science project calls on farmers, land managers and gamekeepers to spend 30 minutes spotting species on their patch of land from 8-17 February.

The annual count is organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT). Results help to distinguish which farmland birds are thriving due to good conservation efforts while identifying those species most in need of help.

GWCT biodiversity adviser Peter Thompson said: “The big farmland bird count gives individual farmers the chance to spend just half an hour counting birds on their farm, so that the GWCT can shout from the roof-tops about your results.

Record-breakers

Many farmers work hard to encourage wildlife, said Mr Thompson. But people often seem surprised that this is the case. Last-year saw a record-breaking 1,000 participants in the count, recording 121 species across almost 400,000ha.

A total of 25 red-listed species were recorded, with five appearing in the 25 most commonly seen species list. These included fieldfares, starlings, house sparrows, song thrushes and yellowhammers. Most plentiful were fieldfares and starlings, seen on nearly 40% of farms.

But Mr Thompson believes hundreds more people should support the initiative. There are around 212,000 farm holdings and around 3000 full time gamekeepers in the UK – so current figures suggest only one in every 200 potential participants took part last year.

Excellent work

The NFU is sponsoring this year’s count. Union president Minette Batters said: “This event highlights perfectly how farmers balance excellent conservation work on farms across the country alongside producing the nation’s food.”

Over the past four decades, farmers had carried out a huge amount of work to encourage wildlife and were responsible for protecting, maintaining and enhancing the nation’s iconic countryside, said Ms Batters.

She added: “I would encourage as many farmers as possible to participate during the event in February as this is crucial in the survival and protection of many farmland bird species.”

For full details, visit the BFBC website at www.bfbc.org.uk

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