24 February 2016

A big thank you from all the farmland birds

TreesparrowpthompsonThe Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) third Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) is now complete and the results are flooding in!

Across the UK, people have been busy in the wet and windy weather counting all their resident birds. GWCT would like to thank every farmer and gamekeeper, and all other land managers for dusting off their binoculars and taking part in the count.

The BFBC aims to highlight the fantastic work already being done by farmers and gamekeepers in helping to reverse the decline in farmland bird numbers. Based on pioneering research at the Allerton Project (GWCT demonstration farm) over the past 23 years, the BFBC shows how simple practical measures can massively increase farmland bird numbers.

In the run-up to the count, GWCT successfully held 17 sell-out Bird Identification Days, each held at a farm across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. With 100% of those who gave feedback saying they would recommend the identification day to others, you can be sure to see more of these days next year.

One attendee, who joined the South Downs Identification Day, said: “Really engaging. A difficult topic well delivered.” Another, who joined the Worcestershire Identification Day, said: “Excellent day - will attend again and implement ideas at our school.”

Many of the attendees will be applying these skills throughout the year, as well as for the count. By keeping up to date with the number and species of birds farmers have on their land, they can track how the numbers are increasing or declining. This information makes it easier to adapt practical measure to maintain or increase numbers.

This year the GWCT aims to beat the 2015 results and to have over 1,000 farmers submit their findings.

Jim Egan, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Head of Development and Training for the Allerton Project and BFBC organiser says: “This year’s Big Farmland Bird Count identification days were a huge success. The days could not have run without the help of our fantastic host farmers, a huge array of farmland bird experts and a great network of partner organisations, including FWAG association and RSPB. It’s been really enjoyable watching all the results coming in showing the incredible work that farmers are doing to encourage their number of farmland birds. A firm favourite sighting so far has to be the 660 yellowhammers seen in Cambridgeshire! There have also been a couple of reports of real rarities which we are looking forward to revealing when we announce the full results on the 24th March.”

Many farmers have already taken part and submitted their sightings online. Results close on 26 February and everyone who submits will be entered into a prize draw to win a fantastic pair of Swarovski SLC 8x42 multipurpose binoculars worth £1,310, kindly donated by Swarovski Optik KG.

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 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.

For information, contact:
Eleanor Williams
Telephone: 07592 025476