Thursday, 2 April 2015

Farmers flock to record their birds!

The Blackbird was the most commonly seen bird in the BFBC this year!
So this year’s GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) figures are published - and what a success it has been!  

In just the 2nd year of this exciting initiative, over 950 farmers took part, which is very nearly double the number that participated in 2014! (And some people say farmers are not that interested in wildlife!!) Their collective efforts recorded a whopping 127 different species, adding 11 “new” species to the list when compared to the 2014 count.

The average farm size of those taking part was 975 acres, which means that those who got involved in the survey, manage a total area of nearly a million acres!! Once again this year, more farmers took part from Norfolk (64) than any other county, with the runner up being Yorkshire (62) for the second time. Every English county was however represented and we also had lots of counts from Scotland, Wales and Ireland too. 

This year we had over 170 people attending the ten farmland bird identification days we ran during January, fine tuning peoples birding skills to help them prepare for the count. These days hopefully gave people the confidence to recognise individual birds on their farm. How good it was to see these days not only run by the GWCT advisory staff, but also with experts from the FWAG Association, RSPB and Natural England, all running workshops too.

The five most abundant birds seen were woodpigeon, starling, rook, fieldfare and chaffinch. These are the same as in 2014 just in a different order. It is great that starlings and fieldfare were seen on over 40% of the farms taking part, making them the most abundant red data list species recorded in the survey.

This year seven of the top 25 most abundant species are on the Red List of Conservation concern; these are linnet, yellowhammer, house sparrow, starling, lapwing, fieldfare and redwing. There were also 13 different species of raptor recorded, with goshawk being seen for the first time in 2015.

The GWCT would struggle to organise the BFBC without sponsorship from BASF, who also fund the bird ID workshops – so a big thank you to them, especially Graham Hartwell who has been incredibly supportive.

What has also helped this year is the fantastic backing we have had from many other organisations, particularly the National Farmers Union (NFU), Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) Country Landowners Association (CLA) and the various independent Farming and Wildlife Advisory Groups (FWAG) 

But most of all - a big thank must go to all the farmers who have taken part this year - you all deserve a big pat on the back for making this such a successful project! I hope you will see that we have had a lot of interest from the press, with column after column appearing across a wide section of newspapers and magazines. Both local and national radio and television have also been covering the story.

How brilliant that we have a really up-beat, positive news story being widely reported for once!    

The third Big Farmland Bird Count will take place during the week of 6th – 14th February 2016 and we are planning more training days for January 2016. If you want to find out more – go to:

No comments:

Post a Comment