It was the 10th annual Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) and a whopping 1,700 farmers took part, recording 149 species across 1.5 million acres. 460,000 birds were recorded during the counting period. There was a pat on the back for Norfolk farmers and land managers as they recorded the most returns, with 164 farmers sending in records. Every county in England as represented.
The annual bird count is organised by the GWCT and sponsored by the NFU and its primary aim, aside from providing data for future strategies, is to highlight the work being done by land managers and game keepers to enhance farmland bird populations.
The most popular birds to appear on the BFBC were blackbirds, wood pigeons and robins. Among the most prevalent Red Listed species were starling, lapwing, fieldfare and linnet. (Red Listed species are those species that are in serious decline in the UK).
The most elusive birds were the jack snipe and bittern, which were only spotted by 1 per cent of participants. In localised areas, the red grouse and willow tit were also very low on numbers being recorded.
A total of 33 species from the Red List and 47 from the Amber List were recorded and 14 listed birds appeared in the top 25 most abundant species. The Red Listed species that appeared in the top 25 were: Starling, Linnet, Lapwing, Fieldfare, Yellowhammer, House Sparrow, Skylark.
Many of those participating are in agri-environment schemes and more than a quarter are in landscape-scale conservation projects such as our own NNCG. Of those completing the survey, 62 per cent are in some form of agri-environment scheme, 47 per cent are providing extra seed feed for birds, 36 per cent run a wild or released gamebird shoot.
To read more about the BFBC or the work of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) visit the website here.