New Technology to Help Farmers Count Birds
At Little Peckers, we have previously discussed the falling populations of farmland birds. There are 22 species on the Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern. Now, these birds are being helped by the latest software.
Agrantec, a Bristol based technology company have developed a new platform which has helped farmers to identify and count the birds which appeared on their land during the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust's 2017 Big Farmland Bird Count. For the first time, farmers were easily able to record their sightings.
The new software also features hints and tips regarding conservation measures which can be employed to help the threatened birds including yellowhammers, starlings, house sparrows and skylarks. The survival of these species may depend on farmers adopting improved practices. Each farmer who took part in the count was able to access their own personal account and so they now benefit from an ongoing record of how birds are faring year on year.
Highly Effective System
The new platform is called NotaZone and has delighted the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, which is charity and so feared that they might struggle to obtain the software they were looking for within their budget. Agrantec understood their needs and delivered a highly effective system. Framers have also been impressed with the software which works on smartphones, laptops and desktop computers making it accessible to all.
NotaZone was originally conceived as a record-keeping and management tool for farmers but was adapted for the annual farmland bird count. The software was free for every farmer who took part in the count.
Targeted Changes to Help Wild Birds
Land managers are now able to evolve targeted changes to assist threatened birds including putting up nesting boxes, providing winter feeding sites and creating improved nesting environments. The software ensures that data collection is efficient, that there is a permanent record of the information which has been collected and that it can be used more effectively.
Farmers are given ownership of their data and so can build a record of their achievements in improving the environment for birds on their land. This is unusual with wildlife surveys but could be setting a precedent that others choose to follow. The software can be shared so that other organisations can learn how to develop their own systems.
The GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count
This year, over 1,000 farmers took part in the count and managed to record 112 different species together with 240,000 individual birds. The fifth GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count will begin on February 9, 2018, with bird identification training days being arranged across the UK during January and February 2018.
It will be interesting to see if the populations of the threatened species begin to improve in the coming years. It has become apparent that modern farming techniques have caused serious issues for the birds. But now the latest technology is being used to improve the situation and to promote viable solutions.