Maintaining a healthy bird population

YellowhammersmlGuest blog by Paul Simpson, Dorset farmer

As a farmer who once thought he knew all the wildlife there was to see on his farm, I have always enjoyed the visits of real bird experts who see, and often initially hear, a wide range of birds that I had no idea were around. In their company, birds such as Corn Buntings, Blackcaps and Dunnocks appeared in numbers I would not have guessed at.

Coming to the end of a ten year HLS scheme specifically aimed to increase the numbers of Grey Partridge, I am delighted to be able to record a steady increase in the numbers of these exciting birds. And not only Partridges have increased. Yellowhammers, Linnets and plenty of other species have been encouraged by the same measures.

I think we have proved that you do not have to return to Victorian farming methods to maintain a healthy bird population, and that modern commercial farming does not wipe out all wildlife as some critics seem to believe.

A little tree planting here, some wild bird food plots there and a few strips of flowering plants along field boundaries can make all the difference. So can predator control, although badgers, one of the main predators of ground nesting birds, are of course protected.

While walking in the countryside we always have the company of birds to enjoy. It may be a Robin noisily shouting from a nearby bush, a Swift performing aerobatics high in the sky, a Kestrel hovering miraculously still or a Skylark singing its heart out high above us.

I hope there will be a big response to the Big Farmland Bird Count. There will be pleasure in doing it, and satisfaction in proving what a healthy population of wild birds we still have to enjoy.

The third #BFBC takes place between 6th and 14th February 2016

We're asking people to spend 30 minutes on any one day between the 6th and 14th February recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of the farm.

Sign up for Big Farmland Bird Count reminders > 


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