WILDLIFE enthusiasts across the country are being urged to take part in the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC), which is back for the seventh 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 between the 7th and 16th February 2020.

Crucially, the results will aim to determine which farmland birds are benefiting from conservation efforts while identifying the ones most in need of help.

Organising the count this year is Dr Roger Draycott, who is head of advisory services for the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), pictured below.

He said: “Farmers and gamekeepers are vital in helping to ensure the future survival of many of our most cherished farmland bird species like skylarks, yellowhammers, corn buntings and wild grey partridges.

Corn bunting

“They are responsible for managing the largest songbird habitat in this country on their land but frequently their efforts to reverse bird declines are largely unrecorded. We believe our Big Farmland Bird Count will help remedy this.”

Last year was another record-breaking count with 1,400 people counting – a 40% increase on the previous year, recording 140 species over 1 million acres. 

Encouragingly, a total of 30 red-listed species were recorded in 2019, with five appearing in the most commonly seen species list. These included fieldfares, starlings, house sparrows, yellowhammers and song thrushes, with the first four seen by over 30% of the farms taking part.

The BFBC was launched in 2014 to highlight the positive work done by land managers in helping to reverse the decline in farmland birds. The count offers a simple means of recording the effects of any conservation work currently being undertaken by farmers and gamekeepers on their land, such as supplementary feeding birds through winter or growing crops specifically to provide seed for birds.

At the end of the count, the results will be analysed by the Trust. All participants will receive a report on the national results once they have been collated.

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