It is time for the annual Farmland Bird Count, which runs from 3rd to 19th February.
The annual count is organised by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and is crucial as a means of recording the effect of any conservation scheme being initiated by farmers and gamekeepers on their land.
With 70 birds on the red list and 103 on the amber list, it is really important to see which schemes are working; which habitats are providing for these birds, and which species we need to keep a careful watch on in the future.
It couldn’t be a simpler process. You can download a count sheet from the GWCT website and submit your findings online. Alternatively, you can send your results in by post.
On one day between the 3-19 February, spend approximately 30 minutes recording the species and numbers of birds seen in one particular area of the farm. While you can choose any location, a site where you can see clearly over approximately two hectares is ideal.
To see the highest number of birds, the GWCT recommends choosing a site which includes or is close to an area of game or wild seed mix or somewhere supplementary feeding takes place. Counting at first light is also recommended as this is when birds are most active.
These are some of the results from the 2022 Survey: More than 1,900 farmers took part and recorded 130 species across more than 1.5 million acres, and counting more than 420,000 birds!
The most commonly seen species were blackbirds and woodpigeons, seen by over 71 per cent of our participants. Robins, Carrion Crows and Pheasants were seen by over 63 per cent of the farmers.
At the other end of the scale, we were delighted to see that a total of 26 species from the Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern were recorded, with 7 appearing in the 25 most frequently seen species list. Starlings, Lapwing, Fieldfare, and Linnet were the four most abundant red listed species recorded with over 125,000 total spotted which equates to 29% of all species spotted.
The five most abundant birds seen were woodpigeons, starling, lapwing, fieldfare and rooks. A total of 204,398 were seen, making up more than 48 per cent of the total number of birds recorded.
7 of the top 25 most abundant species are on the Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern and include: Starling, lapwing, fieldfare, linnet, house sparrow, yellowhammer and skylark.