THE time has arrived to dust down your binoculars and start bird watching, as the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) is back for the fifth consecutive year.
Farmers, land managers and gamekeepers are being urged to circle Friday February 9th to Sunday February 18th in their diary for the count, which is run by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT).
Many farmers and gamekeepers love to see Barn owl, Bullfinch, Lapwing, Grey partridge, Tree sparrow and Yellowhammer, on their land; the Big Farmland Bird Count is an opportunity to actually record the birds on farm.
It takes just 30 minutes to take part in the count and founder Jim Egan is hoping for a big turnout.
“A great number of farmers and keepers are doing tremendous work to boost farmland birds and other wildlife. As well as planting seed mixes to provide winter feed, they also leave weedy stubbles over-winter, manage hedgerows so as to leave berries for food and also supplement this by putting out mixed seeds and grain on tracks and field margins,” he said.
“However, not everyone appreciates the extent to which farmers and keepers are managing existing habitats and creating new ones specifically to help our farmland birds. Now is the time to change all that.”
Jim is Head of Training and Development at GWCT’s renowned Allerton Project where research has identified how to bring bird numbers back onto productive farmland. The number of birds present there has been doubled by adapting a management system originally developed for gamebirds.
Different farmers have different approaches to wildlife conservation, but there are enough examples of successful initiatives to be optimistic for the future.
Last year, 970 farmers and keepers took part and recorded 112 species across 900,000 acres.
They recorded 22 Red List species including Fieldfare, Tree sparrow, Starling, Yellowhammer and Song thrush. There were Wood pigeon, Woodpecker, Pheasant and Grey partridge recorded. The count aims to help farmers and keepers build a record of birds on their farm so they can, where necessary, target their conservation work.
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.
How to take part in three simple steps
1) Download your count sheet at www.gwct.org.uk/bfbc
2) Count your birds! On a day between 9th and 18th February spend about 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of the farm.
3) Once you've completed your count simply submit your results at www.gwct.org.uk/bfbc
The BFBC is sponsored by BASF and delivered in partnership with FWAG Association and LEAF with support from the NFU, CLA and Kings.
WATCH Peter Thompson in this short clip explaining how to take part in this year’s BFBC https://www.gwct.org.uk/farming/big-farmland-bird-count/taking-part-in-the-count/