Hot on the heels of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Big Farmland Bird Count takes place between the 3rd and 12th February. The Trust started the Big Farmland Bird Count in 2014 to highlight the good work done by farmers and gamekeepers in helping to reverse the decline in farmland bird numbers. Back then just 50 farmers took part, but now over 1000 farmers submit records and it is hoped that this will increase to 5000 in the future.
It is an easy way for farmers to find out about the birds they have on their farm. It enables them to assess the effect that their environmental stewardship options and areas of land under schemes such as Fair to Nature are having on the numbers of wild birds visiting their land. Fair to Nature farmers are required to grow areas of seed bearing crops that will feed birds over the winter and into the spring. They are also encouraged to provide supplementary food for birds in feeders or by spreading along farm tracks.
This year the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is launching a new online tool to make it quicker and easier for farmers to record their counts and will enable them to plot trends and compare their farm with others in the region. The Trust has also hosted a number of farmland bird identification days in conjunction with the RSPB so participants can hone their ID skills before the event.
For full details about the Big Farmland Bird Count see: http://www.gwct.org.uk/farming/big-farmland-bird-count/.