Record-breaking Big Farmland Bird Count in 2020
MORE THAN 1500 farmers across Britain overcame challenging conditions to make the 2020 Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) the biggest since it launched in 2014.
Farmers battled through the worst winter flooding in recent years to show they are not only at the frontline of the country’s food security, but also its conservation efforts.
Due to storms Ciara and Dennis hitting both weekends of the count, organisers took the step to extend the count window by a week in response to calls from hundreds of farmers who wanted to take part but couldn’t do so. The commitment of those counting at a time when tens of thousands of acres were left inundated with floodwater should not be overlooked.
An impressive 25 red-listed species were recorded, with nine featuring in the 25 most-commonly seen species. Of these, fieldfares, starlings, linnets and lapwings were the four most abundant red listed species recorded with over 67,000 in total, which equates to 24 per cent of all species spotted.
Roger Draycott, GWCT head of advisory said: “The fact we received a record-breaking number of count returns despite Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis wreaking havoc for many farm businesses is remarkable.
“This highlights the commitment of farmers to not only undertake farm wildlife conservation measures but also to record and evaluate the benefits of this vital conservation work.”
Half the participants are in some form of agri-environment scheme, demonstrating their long-term commitment to environmental management.
Some 36 per cent of farmers taking part were providing some form of extra seed feed for birds, either through growing wild bird seed mixes, or by providing additional grain through scatter feeding or via hoppers.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “Despite awful weather conditions throughout the count, including storms Ciara and Dennis, these figures represent a fantastic effort by farmers across the country who participated in record numbers.
British farmers will continue to work around the clock to produce food for the nation, particularly during the current exceptional circumstances, and will continue to protect and enhance our iconic British countryside.”