Encouraging start for 2017 Big Farmland Bird Count

Bullfinch _maleBy Jim Egan, Big Farmland Bird Count Co-ordinator

The 2017 Big Farmland Bird Count is now well underway and it has been great to see the results start to come in over the last few days. No rarities recorded yet buts lots of great sightings of all the important birds you would hope to see on farmland at this time of year. Tree sparrow, yellowhammer and starlings all appear in good numbers, and there is a smattering of bullfinch too.

The count at the Allerton Project is still to take place with our farmer Phil Jarvis intending to do his bit towards the end of the week; we’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t get Bullfinch in his count as they are always hanging around the feeders at the back of the visitor centre. 

One of the great pleasures I get from this initiative is being able promote all the good work farmers do for farmland birds. Last Friday I spent the day in a radio recording studio in London. Not my usual habitat, but one I’m getting used to as this was the fifth time I’ve visited in the last two years.

We work with our media partners, 4mediarelations and the once their team has been briefed about the Big Farmland Bird Count, they contact local and national radio stations across the UK to offer them an interview with me to discuss the count.   

We usually confirm around 20 interview opportunities and Friday was no exception. There were 17 interviews lined up for the day, starting at 9.00am and finishing at 1.30pm; talking to radio stations from Cornwall to Scotland, Shropshire to Suffolk. The presenters were, as always, fascinated to hear about the great conservation work that many farmers are doing alongside intensive food production and there was real interest in being able to go back and discuss the results of the count. 

So, that gives you the challenge of actually completing the count; when I speak to those radio stations in March to tell them about all the fantastic birds you have recorded during this week, I’m going to need a significant number of people to have done the count. 

We’re off to a great start and on course to better last year’s total but don’t rely on others taking part – dust off those binoculars, get your count sheet (or download the app!) and go and do the count on your farm. It’s a great to see what birds are out there and it gives GWCT and others the opportunity to be positive about all the work that you’re doing to help reverse the decline. Go on get counting!!

2017 Big Farmland Bird Count 

Find out how to take part > 


bird count

at 12:41 on 07/02/2017 by J M Dugdale

No longer a farmer but hundreds of lapwing seen just outside Shrewsbury on A49 after Bayston Hill yesterday. Could not count as driving!

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