Despite the cold and wet weather, this February over 60 Herefordshire farmers and other land managers got together and counted the birds on their land for this year’s Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC).
Nearly 120 different species of birds were counted across the county. Fieldfares were seen by over 60% of those taking part, joining 22 other species spotted from the Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern.
Tony Norman, GWCT member of over 50 years, was one of the many people who took part in this year’s count. Tony put out a rallying call, with the help of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, to encourage his fellow farmers across the county to all pull together and count the birds on their farms.
Tony says: “The Big Farmland Bird Count is so simple, and only takes 30 minutes of your time. There’s really no excuse to not count. It is reassuring to know that farmers in Herefordshire are interested enough to observe and to consistently provide the habitat and food to support such numbers and diversity of birds. We will definitely be taking part again next year.”
During the time of the count, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust called for some wider support to help survey 13 of the farms that it owns. It sent out an appeal to its farming members and had a huge response of individuals wanting to take part.
Ecologist Sophie Cowling from Herefordshire Wildlife Trust says: “The week was a huge success and a great way to see the numbers of resident birds on the Wildlife Trust’s properties.”
Caroline Hanks, farm environment advisor in Herefordshire and CFE (Campaign for the Farmed Environment) co-ordinator, says: “It is wonderful that so many birders and local farmers teamed up in this year’s count. Those providing winter bird food and wild bird seed mixes were particularly rewarded with good numbers of birds. Many more farmers have indicated that the only encouragement they need to get involved is some bird ID training, so we are hoping to encourage even greater participation in 2017.”
Planning for the fourth BFBC is already under way. It will take place on 4-12 February 2017 and even more bird identification days are planned ahead of the event. It is hoped that 2,000 participants will take part from even further afield than 2016.
The GWCT would like to thank everyone who took part in the count and submitted their results. Without their support, the BFBC wouldn’t be the success it is.
Photo credit: Peter Thompson
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 BASF and delivered in partnership with the FWAG Association, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), NFU and CLA. We get support from a range of other partners including RSPB, Kings, Waitrose, Soil Association, CFE (Campaign for the Farmed Environment), Heather Trust, Conservation Grade, Songbird Survival and Countryside Alliance.
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Telephone: 01425 651000