21 January 2021

Time to get counting farmland birds in Wales

Counting farmland birdsThe GWCT’s Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) is pleased to announce two events in Wales to help record what farmland birds are present at this time of year before the official count from February 5-14.

The Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) will be hosting a free online webinar on Monday 1 February at 7pm. Chaired by president Glyn Roberts, the event will highlight the importance of recording what birds are present and identify what effects Glastir – Wales’ agri-environment scheme – has on bird numbers. Follow the link to join.

The Biodiversity Information Service (BIS) who collate and manage wildlife records for Powys, and the Brecon Beacons National Park (BBNP) will also be hosting, in partnership with GWCT Wales, an online free training webinar on Tuesday 2 February at 7.30pm, funded by the BBNP and CLIF Bar. This event is already full but the webinar will be available to download afterwards. For details please visit this link.

Simon Boyes, Bird Recorder for Montgomeryshire, and Matt Goodall, GWCT Wales advisor, will be discussing the birds that we might see and suggest some ideas on what can happen on farms to encourage more bird activity.

“We are delighted to be in partnership with both the FUW and BIS to discuss the BFBC, which is in its eighth year, attracting over 1,500 farmers,” says Matt, who urges more Welsh farms to record their birds so we can see which ones are surviving before the breeding season.

“More importantly, we want to impress that this ’hungry gap’ time in the year means more can be done to help them get into a favourable condition to maximise breeding success this year,” he adds.

“We would like to see more feeding areas for farmers to help the birds, but ultimately it would be great to see more seed-bearing cover crops - grown in the field margins so birds can get cover and food.”

Glyn Roberts says: “The aim of the Big Farmland Bird Count is to raise awareness of the great conservation work being done on farms across Wales and to highlight what can be done to help farmland birds survive this difficult time of year so that the breeding populations are increased.

“I’m looking forward to the special webinar, which will help us to understand the importance of recording what birds are present and identify what effects Glastir has on bird numbers.”

Ben Mullen from BIS is keen to get people engaged. “It’s a great citizen science opportunity to brush up on your bird knowledge, get outside with your binoculars equipped with your ID sheets - which can be downloaded from the BFBC site – and take just 30 minutes to look out for farmland birds.

“It’s something you can do alone or with members from your own household that is fun,” says Ben, who wants to get as many farms involved as possible.

“If you plan to do it for a farmer, please ensure you have their permission to do the count and submit the results, as you will need to put the farm address when you upload the bird count. This data is then used to showcase what’s going on where, and to shout about the good work being done on farms across Wales.”

For more information on this press release please contact Matt Goodall on 07741 902021 or email mgoodall@gwct.org.uk

Or contact Ben Mullen on  ben@bis.org.uk or 07479 279 830

Or Anne Dunn from the FUW on anne.dunn@fuw.org.uk

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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