A record number take part in the Big Farmland Bird Count with 25 red list species spotted

A record number of farmers took part in this year’s Big Farmland Bird Count with more than 25 red-listed species spotted.

A record number of farmers took part in this year's Big Farmland Bird Count

More than 1,500 people overcame the challenging conditions which led to a count extension as both Storms Ciara and Dennis battered the country in February.

But despite this more than 120 species of bird were recorded, with every county in Britain represented.

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Organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and sponsored by the NFU, the count is supported by a number of organisations including the CLA, LEAF, National Sheep Association and FWAG Association.

The results showed the five most abundant birds spotted were wood pigeons, starlings, lapwings, black-headed gulls and rooks.

Nine of the 25 birds which are on the red list also feature in the most commonly seen species. Of these, fieldfares, starlings, linnets and lapwings were the four most abundant with more than 67,000 recorded.

Roger Draycott, GWCT head of advisory who co-ordinated this year’s count, said: “The fact we received a record-breaking number of count returns despite Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis wreaking havoc for many farm businesses is remarkable.

“This highlights the commitment of farmers to not only undertake farm wildlife conservation measures but also to record and evaluate the benefits of this vital conservation work.”

NFU president, Minette Batters, agreed saying the figures represented a fantastic effort by farmers across the country and the count was a great way for farmers to record the birdlife on their land.

With an increased focus on delivering public goods in the government’s future Environmental Land Management scheme, understanding what is on a farm is becoming increasingly important.

The count results showed half the participants are in some form of agri-environment scheme, demonstrating their long-term commitment to environmental management.

CLA director North, Dorothy Fairburn, said she was also delighted to hear about the numbers taking part.

“I was particularly encouraged by the news that nine red-listed species appeared on the most commonly seen list, which serves to highlight the importance of the work that many farmers and landowners do on habitat management.”

CLA rural surveyor, Robert Frewen, who took part in the count, said: “We counted our fields in Upper Swaledale, with the highlight being a pair of wild English partridge, but we also spotted both nuthatch and treecreeper and our tawny owl population goes from strength to strength.”

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