Our colleagues at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) write: "Despite it being the...Read more
The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s annual Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) kicks off tomorrow (2 February), and is a fantastic opportunity to help out wildlife conservation efforts, build stronger rural communities and give the whole family a chance to see our beautiful countryside and learn more about our wild birds.
Farmers and land managers up and down the country are encouraged to count and make note of all the wild bird species on their farms, in the space of 30 minutes on one day between 2 February and 18 February. This annual count plays a laudable role in promoting and celebrating the importance of farms and farmers in wild bird conservation efforts.
If you don’t happen to be a farmer or land manager but still want to get involved, then it is recommended to contact local farms and ask if they would be happy for you to take part in the count on their farmland. The more people that help out and the greater the area covered in the count, the better.
There is guidance available from the Big Farmland Bird Count website www.bfbc.org.uk for anyone wanting to join the count, this includes free bird identification guides, the downloadable count sheet, suggestions about how to carry out an effective count, exact details of what the count is looking for and how to record and submit figures.
We are lucky to have a wealth of biodiversity in the UK, but the coexistence of wild birds and farms has not always been easy. With post-war agricultural practice reforms in the shadow of rationing, this country saw a decline in farmland bird populations. Huge efforts have been made in recent decades to reverse that trend, with great success, but it is initiatives like the Big Farmland Bird Count which allow for these conservation efforts to continue at pace. The most valuable contributions are those which repeat the count year after year, so please get involved this year, and make a note to make it an annual occurrence. What better reason, then, to dust off the binoculars, fill up a thermos, and get counting?
Independently of the BFBC, to enhance your enjoyment of the count, we’d recommend apps for smartphones like Merlin Bird ID (among many others) which can listen to the ambient birdsong and identify which birds are calling, even if you can’t see them.