New bird count asks farmers, game wardens and land managers to help

Farmers, gamekeepers and land managers have been asked to contribute to the Big Farmland Bird Count, an annual census of UK birds.

The count, led by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is investigating backyard bird populations to help reverse their decline.

GWCT lead scientist Dr Dave Parish said: ‘Our farmers and land managers are responsible for managing this country’s largest songbird habitat on their land, so they are able to make a real difference.

“Now we challenge land managers across the UK to break their own record and make 2022 matter more than ever.”

To contribute, participants need only spend 30 minutes between February 4 and 20 counting birds at a location on their property, before uploading the results.

In 2021, the initiative saw 2,500 counts take place, compared to 1,500 in 2020.

Last year the program covered 2.5 million acres in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, rising from 1.4 million acres in 2020.

The program also aims to raise awareness of simple things landowners can do to increase bird levels.

These include leaving field margins free of pesticides, allowing broadleaf weeds to grow and planting hedges.

People may also maintain small wetlands on their farms to attract wading birds.

Dr Parish said: “For land managers keen to support wild birds, a few small changes can have a big impact.

“The GWCT advisory team offers advice on improving biodiversity on farms and shoots.

“Modern farming methods mean that there is often not enough natural food for wildlife left in the countryside in late winter and early spring.

“One of the best ways to support wild birds and game birds is to provide them with extra winter seeds.

“Complementary feeding is particularly beneficial for birds of conservation concern such as gray partridge, corn bunting and yellowhammer.”

To take part in the count and for information about the count, visit bfbc.org.uk to download documents.


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