Jim Egan, from the Hampshire based GWCT, said: “It is often underestimated how much good conservation work is being carried out on UK farmland to help our threatened bird species. The bird count is an excellent way for farmers to show the range of conservation management on UK farmland for the benefit of many declining bird species such as starling, grey partridge and yellowhammer.”
February is one of the leanest times of year for farmland birds because there is very little spilt grain or berries left for hungry birds to feed on to help them survive. However, last year’s bird count revealed that more than 60% of farmers taking part were providing huge amounts of additional food either by wild seed mixes, hopper feeding or by scattering grain on the ground.
Mr Egan said it is crucial that farmers understand how vital “greening”measures are in helping some of the declining birds and which species are benefiting from these measures. “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,” he added.
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. Once the sightings have been recorded they should be emailed or posted to the GWCT at http://www.gwct.org.uk/bfbc
In addition to running the count, the GWCT has organised a series of farmland bird identification days which are being run across the country in the next few weeks. These are being led by local birding experts and last for two and a half hours and aim to help farmers and gamekeepers recognise the birds in their area, especially those hard to identify species.
For those interested in taking part in the count, the GWCT is providing a simple tick sheet that can be downloaded from the trust’s website and taken into the field to record any sightings. Participants will then be able to send the results either via a dedicated web page or through the post. Results of the 2015 count will be announced in early spring.
To register interest in attending the bird identification days or to download count forms, please visit: http://www.gwct.org.uk/BFBC or telephone 01425 651000.