Fri, 05 Feb 2021
The 2021 GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count is underway. From today (February 5) until Valentine’s Day farmers and land managers across the country will be picking up their binoculars and heading to a corner of their land to spend 30 minutes counting birds. And it is not too late to get involved.
The event, organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is a nationwide survey of farmland birds undertaken voluntarily by farmers and land managers. Last year more than 1,500 people took part.
Participants are asked to spend just 30 minutes recording the birds they see on their land and submit the results to the GWCT for analysis. The count helps to identify the farmland birds that are flourishing and the ones most in need of support.
Dr Roger Draycott, who organises the count for the GWCT, says: "As well as giving land managers a chance to see the fruits of their conservation labours, the Big Farmland Bird Count is a great way to demonstrate to the public and policy makers what can be achieved on Britain’s farms. We know from decades of our research that simple, practical measures can massively increase farmland bird numbers. And we want land managers to be proud of their efforts."
The Big Farmland Bird Count also makes an ideal lockdown activity: a great way to get the family involved with spotting birds and learning about species on your own land.
Bird identification guides and videos are available at www.bfbc.org.uk along with guidance on how to support birds on farmland.
The GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count is sponsored by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and also has the support of the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) and the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), who all champion the scheme to their members.
NFU President Minette Batters, who farms in Wiltshire, said: “The NFU is extremely pleased to be sponsoring this year’s Big Farmland Bird Count which highlights perfectly how farmers are balancing their roles as food producers alongside work in protecting and maintaining the environment. Over generations farmers have carried out a huge amount of work on farm to encourage wildlife by managing existing habitats and creating new ones specifically to help farmland birds.
“I’ll be getting out on my farm to take part in the count and I would encourage as many farmers as possible to participate over the next 10 days, record how many farmland bird species you spot on the farm and, importantly, submit your results to GWCT. This will be crucial in pulling together a vital national snapshot of the state of nation when it comes to our farmland birds.”
Taking part in the BFBC is easy. Just pick one day between February 5-14, download a count sheet from www.bfbc.org.uk and spend 30 minutes recording the number and species of birds seen on one area of land. Participants are advised to choose somewhere they know they are likely to see some birds, such as an area of wild seed mix, or somewhere they regularly spread bird seed, or a field with a tall hedge and a good field margin. Wellies, binoculars and a flask of something warming are recommended!
All participants will receive a report on the national results once they have been collated.
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