18 December 2015

Wellies on? Binoculars ready? Let’s go count some birds!

BfbciddayphotopeteThe third Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) will take place from 6 - 14 February 2016, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) announced today.

Launching this now annual event, GWCT’s Jim Egan said “more people than ever took part in last year’s count. The more people who count the better idea we have as to how our farmland birds are faring, so I urge farmers to get out and count!” 

“Once again we are asking farmers, landowners, birdwatchers and gamekeepers to spend 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of the farm this coming winter.”

2015’s results were impressive; nearly one thousand farmers took part, counting birds across nearly a million farmed acres.  The results show the great work that many farmers under-take to support birds with 127 different species spotted, including those of conservation concern such as Starlings, Lapwings and Tree sparrows.

Jim Egan continues, “It’s now time to do it all again and this time we’re offering more help on how to identify those tricky “little brown jobs” (LBJ’s), including a downloadable ID guide to take out into the field.”

For those interested in taking part in the 2016 Big Farmland Bird Count, there is a simple recording sheet that can be downloaded from the GWCT’s website to record sightings. Participants will then be able to fill in their results on a dedicated web page.

Last year we introduced identification days for those wishing to take part in the count but were unsure how to identify some species from others.  Such was the popularity of these events that 17 more farmland bird identification training days are being organised for January and February 2016 at locations across the UK.

The ID days are designed to help participants improve their identification skills ahead of the count. Each session is run by an expert and will last for approximately two and half hours. At the end of the training participants should be able to recognise the top 24 bird species likely to be seen on farmland this coming winter.

If you took part last year then this is chance to take part again and see how numbers have changed. If you didn’t take part last year then this is your chance to find out what species are around!

From GWCT’s pioneering research at the Allerton Project over the past 23 years we know what’s needed to help farmland birds. Hopefully taking part in the count will help demonstrate how simple practical measures can increase farmland bird numbers.

Those who take part and submit their fully completed forms have the chance to win a pair of SLC 8x42 binoculars worth over £1,300, which have been donated by Swarovski Optic.

The GWCT’s Big Farmland Bird Count has captured the imagination of all those interested in the future of farmland birds. Sponsored by BASF, the count is run in partnership with the FWAG Association, LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), the NFU and the CLA. The count also receives support from RSPB, Kings, Waitrose, Soil Association, Heather Trust, Conservation Grade, Songbird Survival and Countryside Alliance.

To sign up to our Bird Identification Days being held in 18 locations across the country, or to download count forms, please visit: www.gwct.org.uk/BFBC or telephone: 01425 651000

END

Dates for the GWCT Bird Identification Days:

County

Event Lead Organisation

Event  Date

Hampshire

GWCT

27.01.16

South Downs AONB

RSPB

26.01.16

Wiltshire

GWCT

20.01.16

Somerset

South West FWAG

27.01.16

Dorset

South West FWAG

04.02.16

Worcestershire

GWCT

02.02.16

Shropshire

Seabridge Associates (West Midlands FWAG)

03.02.16

Norfolk

Norfolk FWAG

02.02.16

Suffolk

Suffolk FWAG

03.02.16

Essex

FWAG East

04.02.16

Cambridgeshire

GWCT / RSPB

29.01.16

Lincolnshire

Notts FWAG

25.01.16

North Yorkshire

Fraser Hugill / RSPB

21.01.16

North Yorkshire

Nidderdale AONB

22.01.16

Vale of Glamorgan

GWCT

05.02.16

Kinross-shire

GWCT

05.02.16

Northern Ireland

RSPB

26.01.16


Notes for 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. We employ 14 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.

* GWCT’s Big Farmland Bird Count is sponsored by the NFU and delivered in partnership with the Farmers Union of Wales, Ulster Farmers’ Union, NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland, Kings, CFE, FWAG, National Sheep Association, Camgrain, LEAF, the CLA and Perdix.

ISDN radio broadcast line - at our Fordingbridge HQ we have an ISDN radio broadcast line, allowing us to conduct interviews remotely.

For information, contact:
James Swyer
Telephone: 01425 651000

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