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The 10th annual ‘Big Farmland Bird Count’ set to take place in February

23 Jan 2024 3 minute read
Blue tit, image by Will George

Farmers, rangers and game or forest keepers who care about wildlife conservation are being encouraged to join the 2024 Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC).

Organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), sponsored by the NFU and supported by the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW), the BFBC is the first UK-wide citizen science project to involve land managers in monitoring the state of farmland birds.

The count aims to raise awareness of the important role they play in the conservation of farmland birds, and to measure the impact of the conservation work that many farmers and wildlife managers carry out.

Since its inception in 2014, nearly 13,000 individual counts have been carried out, providing snapshots of the bird populations on UK farms.

A spokesperson from the FUW said: “The aim of the Big Farmland Bird Count is to raise awareness of the great conservation work being done on farms across Wales and to highlight what can be done to help farmland birds survive this difficult time of year so that the breeding populations are increased.

“With many changes on the horizon for the agriculture sector, we need to understand what farmers can do and then match it up with schemes available going forward.

“The FUW is proud to be supporting this initiative in Wales and we hope many farms will participate once again this year.”

Dr Roger Draycott, from the GWCT, said: “Farmland birds have declined by 63% since 1970 and desperately need our help,” explained

“With 72% of the UK’s land area used for agriculture, the key to increasing biodiversity and reversing the decline in wildlife is held by those looking after this land.”

NFU President Minette Batters said: “Alongside producing quality, climate-friendly food, our farmers and growers are the custodians of the great British countryside and work hard to boost biodiversity, create habitats for wildlife and provide additional feeding for farmland birds. During this year’s count, 149 species were recorded, including 33 species from the Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern.

“I would encourage as many farmers and growers as possible to participate in the 2024 count, record how many farmland bird species you spot on farm and, importantly, submit your results to GWCT. This is always absolutely crucial in pulling together a vital national snapshot of the state of nation when it comes to our farmland birds.”

Bird gathered around a winter feeder. GWCT

Teresa Dent CBE, chief executive of the GWCT said: “You can really make a difference by taking part and helping us to understand how our farmland birds are faring.

“By spending just half an hour in one spot on your shoot or farm, counting the birds you see and submitting your results to the GWCT, the results help us build a national picture of which species are benefiting from conservation efforts, and which are most in need of help.”

Signing up for the GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count is free and no specialist knowledge or equipment are required. In many places, local bird and wildlife groups are working with land managers to help them do the count.

Find out how to get involved in the GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count, 2 – 18 February 2024, at the BFBC where downloadable bird guides are also available.

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