The Big Farmland Bird Count is back

07 February 2019

Pheasant by Mogwai Media

Kim John, CLA South West Communications Manager, comments on the big farmland bird count and the crucial role farmers and gamekeepers play in the survival of many farmland species.

Ellie Wood

This initiative, organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), urges farmers, land managers, gamekeepers and all wildlife enthusiasts to spend around 30 minutes recording which species of farmland bird can be found on their land. The count takes place between Friday 8 and Sunday 17 February.

I recently spent the afternoon with Mark Tufnell, CLA Vice President and first ever “double winner” of the Cotswold Grey Partridge Trophy awarded by the GWCT, finding out how conservation efforts on his estate in Gloucestershire improves both farmland bird numbers and variety of species.

It was clear the passion Mark has for the protection and conservation of farmland birds, in particular the grey partridge. Mark and his gamekeeper Will Pratt, over several years, have created a bird haven through their conservation efforts which include supplementary feeding, wild bird cover crops and beetle banks.

Measures are also applied to reduce the threat of predators. Tree and hedges are kept low to limit the number of sparrow hawks which prefer to have a higher vantage point. Cover crop and beetle banks are placed in the centre of larger open fields to protect the birds from foxes, which generally scale the perimeter of a field.

The Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) offers a simple way for you to record the effect of any conservation schemes that have been put in place, schemes such as supplementary feeding, growing wild bird seed crops or game cover crops – all of which can be found at the Calmsden Estate.

The survey also considers areas with important environmental features such as hedges, woodland ponds, grass margins, ditches and trees all of which can be recorded on the downloadable count sheet. 

There is a crucial role farmers and gamekeepers play to aid the survival of many of our farmland bird species such as skylark, yellowhammer, corn buntings and wild grey partridges. And, with just 30 minutes of your time you can help support the count and show what your conservation efforts are delivering on the ground.

In 2018 more than 1000 individuals took part and recorded 121 species across 950,000 acres of land. An increase on previous years. But, let’s make 2019 even better!

Why not take a couple of minutes to watch Mark’s video on how to take part in the BFBC before heading out with your binoculars between 8 – 17 February.

Head to www.bfbc.org.uk for more information about the count and to download your ID guides and/or count sheet.

1) Download your count sheet here.

2)   Count your birds! On a day between 8th and 17th 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.bfbc.org.uk