11 January 2016

The 3rd count is nearly here, it’s time to learn how to identify those little birdies!

BfbciddayphotopeteThe New Year has begun which means the annual Big Farmland Count (BFBC) 2016 is fast approaching! The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) have now finalised the Identification Training dates and are inviting all farmers to join in with the annual count.

The Identification Days are designed to help farmers improve their identification skills ahead of the count. Each course is run by an expert birder, and will run from 11am through to 3pm. At the end of the training farmers should be able to recognise the top 24 bird species likely to be seen on farmland this coming winter.

Jim Egan from GWCT explains “In 2015 we ran 8 of these ID days, the demand for places was fantastic and we received some great feedback from farmers about how much they’d learnt. It gave many of them the confidence to go on and actually complete the count. It’s great to be working with some fantastic host farmers and farmland bird experts from both the FWAG Association and the RSPB as well as a range of other local birding experts.”

Jim went on to say “Not all farmers are farmland bird experts, nor should they be, and many contacted us to say they would like help so they can identify the birds on their farms. Such was the popularity of these events in 2015 we have managed to secure sponsorship from BASF to put on 17 events this year.”

The days are being organised for January and February 2016 at locations across the UK including Northern Ireland.

Last year one of the first host farmers was Joe Martin who farms in Norfolk. Joe and 20 local farmers were joined for the day by expert birder Henry Walker, of Norfolk FWAG.

Joe says “We had around 20 farmers attend and it was great to have Henry on hand to explain how to identify ‘little brown jobs’, which hide in the hedge bottoms and are always difficult to recognise. It was fascinating and we learned several tricks like looking for flight patterns and recognising song. I’d certainly recommend farmers attending a day if they can.”

The 2016 count itself takes place between the 6th and the 14th February. In 2015 just over 1000 farmers to part and between them they saw 127 different species. During the count farmers and gamekeepers will be invited to spend half an hour recording the species and number of birds seen on one area of the farm.

Jim Egan GWCT said “Having a better understanding of what is working well is hugely important as it will help farmers to target their work for farmland bird recovery more accurately. Taking part in the count is a great way for farmers to see the benefits of conservation work many of them are doing.”

To sign up to our Bird Identification Days being held in 17 locations across the country, or to download count forms, please visit: www.gwct.org.uk/BFBC or telephone: 01425 651000

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.


Dates for the GWCT Bird Identification Days:


Event Lead Organisation

Event  Date




South Downs AONB







South West FWAG



South West FWAG






Seabridge Associates (West Midlands FWAG)



Norfolk FWAG



Suffolk FWAG









Notts FWAG


North Yorkshire

Fraser Hugill / RSPB


North Yorkshire

Nidderdale AONB


Vale of Glamorgan






Northern Ireland




Photo Caption – Farmers taking part in an ID day.

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.

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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