Growers and livestock producers are being asked to spend 30 minutes this month recording the farmland birds they see on their land.
The annual Big Farmland Bird Count helps show which bird species are benefitting from farmers’ conservation efforts – while identifying the species most in need of help. Run by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, it takes place from 5-14 February.
“With 71% of Britain’s countryside looked after by farmers, land managers and gamekeepers, they are crucial to ensuring the survival of cherished bird species like skylarks, yellowhammers, corn buntings and wild grey partridges,” says GWCT organiser Roger Draycott.
“Many of them are already doing fantastic work to support and conserve our native species, including supplementary feeding through winter or growing crops specifically to provide seed for birds, which often goes unrecognised.”
The Big Farmland Bird Count provides an important national snapshot of the health of the UK’s farmland birds.
The NFU is sponsoring the event for the third year running to highlight the farming community’s commitment to conserving Britain’s native bird species.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “Alongside producing climate-friendly food, farmers are working hard to maintain and improve the iconic British countryside by enhancing habitats, supporting pollinators and soils, and protecting wildlife.
“The Big Farmland Bird Count is always a fantastic way for farmers to record the birdlife found on their farms and last year saw record numbers of farmers braving stormy weather to take part and record many different threatened species of farmland birds.”
Cambridgeshire farmer Tom Martin said the count was a good way to show how conservation measures affect bird populations. “Before I took part, I had no idea how many species of bird called our farm their home, and now I look forward to seeing the results each year.”
More than 1500 farmers and land managers took part in last years count. They recorded more than 120 species across 566,000ha. Birds included 25 endangered species from the red list for birds of conservation concern.
All participates receive a report on the national results. Mr Draycott said: “Farmers care for the largest songbird habitat in this country on their land and it is brilliant to see so many of them committing their spare time to recording the bird species they see there.”
To take part in the Big Farmland Bird Count, visit www.bfbc.org.uk