The rural community is being urged to spend 30 minutes recording the birds they spot on their land for this year’s Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) between the 5 and 14 February.
The count, in its eighth year and organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is designed to determine which farmland birds are benefiting from conservation efforts while identifying those threatened species in need of most help.
Mark Tufnell, Deputy President of the CLA, said:
“I’ve been doing the count every year since it launched as it’s a fantastic way for farmers and land managers to see what conservation methods are working and why.
“It’s great to see so many birds thriving but there are also some species you seldom see so it’s important to discover which ones are on your farm and which ones aren’t to help reverse any decline.
“I encourage everyone to join me by dusting down their binoculars and taking part in this year’s count.”
Despite flooding wreaking havoc across farms, the 2020 count was a record-breaking year.
Some 1,500 participants recorded more than 120 species across 1.4 million acres. And the 2020 event also saw more counts returned by ‘farmer clusters’ or groups of farmers working together on conservation projects, providing species data at a wider landscape level as well as at individual farm level.
“The BFBC gives them a chance to see the results of their efforts and provides a crucial national snapshot of the health of the UK’s farmland birds,” says count organiser Roger Draycott.
“One of the few positives of 2020 has been an increase in people enjoying and valuing our countryside and wildlife. 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.”
Encouragingly, 25 species from the Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern were recorded in 2020, with nine of them appearing in the 25 most commonly seen list and nine in the most abundant species list. These include fieldfares, starlings, linnets and lapwings. Blackbirds and woodpigeons were the most seen species in 2020, followed by robins, blue tits and pheasants.
All participants will receive a report on the national results once they have been collated.
- The CLA supports the BFBC alongside other rural organisations
How to get involved
1) Download your count sheet from the BFBC website www.bfbc.org.uk
2) Count your birds! On a day between 5 and 14 February, spend about 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of the farm. Try to avoid adverse conditions, such as a very rainy day, and follow the guidance on the website.
3) Once you've completed your count, simply submit your results at www.bfbc.org.uk