In 2021 the number of counts submitted leapt from 1,500 to 2,500, with participants counting across 2.5million acres of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, up from 1.4million acres in 2020.
Dr Roger Draycott, organiser and head of advisory services at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) thanked everyone who took part in the record-breaking count and said, “Now we are challenging the UK’s land managers to beat their own record and make 2022’s count bigger than ever.
“The latest assessment of the status of the UK’s birds, the Birds of Conservation Concern (BoCC) list, published this month, sadly shows that more than one in four species is in serious trouble. Land managers and gamekeepers can make a real and immediate difference by adopting effective conservation measures. The UK’s farmland birds are counting on you.”
The Big Farmland Bird Count, sponsored by the NFU, (National Farmers’ Union), is organised by the GWCT to encourage land managers to support farmland birds and to highlight the hard work already done by many farmers and gamekeepers to help reverse species’ declines. The count also gives a vital national snapshot of the health of the UK’s birdlife.
“71% of the UK’s countryside is looked after by farmers and land managers, many of whom care deeply for the wildlife on their land, so they are in a position to make a real difference,” continued Roger. “A few small changes, such as providing supplementary winter feeding or growing crops specifically to provide seed for birds, can have a significant impact.
“Carrying out a count on your land takes just thirty minutes and gives you a chance to measure the impacts of your conservation efforts and get GWCT-science-based advice on boosting biodiversity. And your results help give GWCT scientists a crucial insight into which bird species are thriving and which are struggling.”
Encouragingly, a total of 25 species from the Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern were recorded in the 2021 GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count, with eight appearing in the 25 most frequently seen species list. Of these, starling, fieldfare, lapwing and linnet were the four most abundant red-listed species recorded, with over 112,000 spotted in total, which equates to 22% of all the birds counted. The five most abundant birds counted were woodpigeons, starling, rook, fieldfare and chaffinch. A total of 190,000 were seen, making up over 37% of the total number of birds recorded.
How to take part in the Big Farmland Bird Count:
Species guides, including short videos, are available at www.bfbc.org.uk.
1) Download your count sheet from the BFBC website www.bfbc.org.uk
2) Count your birds. On a day between 4 and 20 February, spend about 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of the farm.
3) Once you’ve completed your count, simply submit your results online at www.bfbc.org.uk
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