Big farmland bird count is wildlife health check

FARMERS and landowners are being encouraged to take part in the biggest farmland survey of British bird life next month.

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust's Big Farmland Bird Count takes place on February 6-14.

Organised by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Big Farmland Bird Count takes place between February 6-14.

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, preferably at first light when the birds are most active.

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Last year, over 1,000 farmers, managing nearly one million acres of farmland, took part and identified 127 different species, including some of conservation concern such as lapwings and tree sparrows.

Jim Egan, head of development at the GWCT’s Allerton Project, said: “Taking part in the count is a great way for farmers to see the benefits of conservation work many of them are doing.”

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, is an active supporter of the initiative.

Dorothy Fairburn, the CLA’s regional director for the North, said: “Through providing areas of wild bird seed mix, planting cover crops, good field margins and maintaining hedgerows, many local farmers and landowners are already providing the right habitats for wild birds for both nesting and feeding sites.

“Much of this good work goes unrecorded. This initiative provides a great opportunity to record the number and range of farmland bird species on their land and to demonstrate what their conservation efforts deliver on the ground.”

For more details about the count, visit