Big Farmland Bird Count returns for its fifth year
From February 9th till the 18th 2018, the annual Big Farmland Bird Count will return. Similar to the RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch, which just took place at the end of January, the Big Farmland Bird Count is a citizen-based science survey, calling upon farmers, gamekeepers, or anyone who lives within farmland to take half an hour or so on one of the days in the given period to count the different bird species which they can see in their area of land.
Initiatives such as the Big Farmland Bird Count are crucial in order to find out how well conservation schemes which are being carried out by farmers and gamekeepers are doing. This is perhaps best explained by the Head of Development and Training at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Allerton Project, Jim Egan, who has made clear why conducting the count is so important:
"Farmers and gamekeepers are vital in helping to ensure the future survival of many of our most cherished farmland bird species such as skylark, yellowhammer, corn buntings and wild grey partridges. They are responsible for managing the largest songbird habitat in this country on their land but frequently their efforts to reverse bird declines are largely unrecorded. We believe our Big Farmland Bird Count will help remedy this, particularly as our earlier pilot count showed such encouraging results."
This initiative in 2017 was a large-scale event, as 970 farmers and keepers took part. This meant that key information could be logged in over a wide span of farmland over the UK. In fact, those who participated helped record 112 species across 900,000 acres.
Among those recorded were 22 which are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List for threatened species, including fieldfare, tree sparrow, starling, yellowhammer and song thrush. The Red List is recognised as the most authoritative guide to the status of biological diversity globally, and so it is evidently important that conservationists are able to track the numbers and map out the breeding success of those species of bird in the UK which fall into this category.
The aim for 2018 will of course be to push on from this high level of participation to get even more involved, as the more records which are sent in, the better the chances are of knowing how effective different conservation programmes are across the country and where efforts need to be focused in the coming months and years.
By going to you will be able to download a record sheet with an extensive list of bird species for you to tally up as you spot them on your farmland. Once you have the sheet printed out then it is just a case of choosing a day from February 9th to February 18th and spending thirty minutes watching for birds.
It is suggested that, if possible, it is best to go bird spotting near to first light, as this is when birds will be most active. Though, the GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count is all about getting as many people out there as possible to feed in as many results as possible, so any time that you might have available to carry out a survey, it will be highly valuable.
When you have recorded your survey, you will be able to submit your count results online by following this link: