Bird count recruits 1400 farmers

Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis).

Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis). - Credit: laurie campbell

More than 1400 farmers across the country have now registered to take part in the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) second Big Farmland Bird Count, which will take place between February 7 and 15.

Jim Egan, from the GWCT said, “We are thrilled that so many farmers are keen to take part in this ambitious survey. It is often underestimated how much good conservation work is being carried out on UK farmland to help our threatened bird species. The Big Farmland Bird Count is an excellent way for farmers to demonstrate the wide range of conservation management that is now taking place on UK farmland for the benefit of many declining bird species such as starling, grey partridge and yellowhammer.”

February is one of the leanest times of year for farmland birds because there is very little spilt grain or berries left for hungry birds to feed on to help them survive. However, last year’s Big Farmland Bird Count revealed that more than 60% of farmers taking part in the survey were providing huge amounts of additional food either by wild seed mixes, hopper feeding or by scattering grain on the ground.

“Although a lot of conservation work is being carried out behind the scenes, it is crucial that farmers understand how these vital ‘greening’ measures are helping some of our most rapidly declining birds and importantly, what species are benefiting from these measures. Having a better understanding of what is working well is hugely important as it will help farmers to target their work for farmland bird recovery more accurately,” said Mr Egan.

During the count, farmers and gamekeepers will be invited to spend half an hour recording the species and number of birds seen on one area of the farm. Once the sightings have been recorded they should be emailed or posted to the GWCT at

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In addition to running the Big Farmland Bird Count, the GWCT has organised a series of Farmland Bird Identification Days which are being run across the country in the next few weeks. There are still some places available on the Bird ID days one in Essex, supported by FWAG, on February 5.

To register interest in attending the Bird Identification Days or to download count forms, visit: or phone: 01425 651000.

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