16 January 2014

Countdown to the Big Farmland Bird Count

Corn bunting: As the name implies, this bird is very much associated with farmland and has a large beak specifically designed to eat cereals. Like the grey partridge and skylark, it is very much a bird of more open, rolling landscapes where it will be found in the winter in small flocks feeding on weedy stubbles and over-wintering game cover crops or wild bird seed mixes. In late winter it is often found feeding under hoppers put out for partridges. Photo-credit: Peter Thompson.In just over two weeks, hundreds of farmers from across the country will be taking part in the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) Big Farmland Bird Count.

Jim Egan, from the GWCT’s Allerton Project, said, “The response to our Big Farmland Bird Count, which takes place on the 1 – 7th February, has been remarkable and we are thrilled that so many farmers have signed up to take part. We are also delighted that the count is being backed by many important farming organisations such as LEAF, FWAG, NFU, CLA, the Soil Association, Conservation Grade plus many others who are supporting this important initiative by encouraging their members to take part.”

As an added incentive to join the count, the GWCT will be running a special photo competition alongside the count and entrants could win one of two fantastic prizes donated by the sponsors Kings and BASF.

The competition is open to everyone who is taking part in the Big Farmland Bird Count and simply involves taking a photo within the areas of the farm where the counting is taking place, showing either, birds, wildlife crops or just a beautiful area of the farm.

The GWCT will then publish the 10 best photos on its Big Farmland Bird Count blog and visitors will be able to vote for their favourite image.

The first prize in the Big Farmland Bird Count photo competition is 2 hectares of wild bird seed mix plus a free half day advisory visit, both of which are being kindly donated by Kings Game Cover and Conservation Crops.

The second prize, kindly donated by BASF is an Apple iPad Mini tablet worth £250.

Jim Egan says, “Joining the Big Farmland Bird Count is a fantastic way of showing how conservation measures being implemented on a farm such as offering extra grain seeds during winter or growing wild bird seed crops are boosting bird numbers. The count will also help people to discover the different range of birds that are on their farms. Very often just looking for a few moments can reveal some surprising results. Our hope is that it will spur people on to do even more work for their farmland birds and will act as a catalyst for them to start building their own long-standing wildlife records.”

For those keen to join the national Big Farmland Bird Count, the GWCT is providing a simple tick sheet that can be downloaded and taken into the field to record sightings. Participants will then be able to send the results either via a dedicated web page or through the post.

To join the Big Farmland Bird Count on 1 – 7th February, please visit the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s website: www.gwct.org.uk/bfbc or email Jim Egan on jegan@gwct.org.uk

END

Photocaption: Photo-credit: Peter Thompson, GWCT. Corn bunting: As the name implies, this bird is very much associated with farmland and has a large beak specifically designed to eat cereals. Like the grey partridge and skylark, it is very much a bird of more open, rolling landscapes where it will be found in the winter in small flocks feeding on weedy stubbles and over-wintering game cover crops or wild bird seed mixes. In late winter it is often found feeding under hoppers put out for partridges.


Notes to editors

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats and we lobby for agricultural and conservation policies based on science. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.

For information, contact
Morag Walker, Head of Media
Telephone: 01425 651000
Mobile: 07736 124097

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