Big farmland bird count

Since 2008 Scotland’s index of farmland bird numbers has fallen. But many farmers are bucking the trend, making great efforts to give bed and breakfast to hungry songbirds. By taking part in the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust Big Farmland Bird Count which takes place between 6 and 14 February 2016 Scotland’s farmers can begin to show the value of their efforts.

Dr Dave Parish, Senior Scientist, Scottish Lowland Research, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, said: “The more people who count the better idea we have as to how our farmland birds are faring, so I urge farmers to take part.

“Once again we are asking farmers, landowners, birdwatchers and gamekeepers to spend 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of the farm this coming winter.”

2015 results were impressive; nearly one thousand farmers took part, counting birds across nearly a million farmed acres in the UK. The results show the great work that many farmers undertake to support birds with 127 different species spotted, including those of conservation concern such as starlings, lapwings and tree sparrows. Dave Parish says:

It’s now time to do it all again and this time we’re offering more help on how to identify those tricky little brown jobs including a downloadable ID guide to take out into the field.

For those interested in taking part in the 2016 Big Farmland Bird Count, there is a simple recording sheet downloadable from the GWCT website to record sightings. Participants will then be able to fill in their results on a dedicated web page.

GWCT also introduced bird identification days for those wishing to take part in the count but were unsure how to identify some species. A Farmland Bird ID day will take place on Friday 5 February 2016 at Seggiebank, by Milnathort, Kinross-shire (booking for this event is essential as places are limited). The session is run by an expert and lasts for approximately two hours including a farm walk. By the end, participants should be able to recognise the top bird species likely to be seen on farmland this coming winter.

From GWCT’s pioneering research at the Allerton Project over the past 23 years the Trust knows what is needed to help farmland birds and taking part in the count will help demonstrate how simple practical measures can increase farmland bird numbers.

Those who submit completed forms also have the chance to win a pair of SLC 8x42 binoculars worth over £1,300 donated by Swarovski Optic.

The GWCT’s Big Farmland Bird Count is sponsored across the UK by BASF and is run in partnership with the FWAG Association, LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming), the NFU and the CLA. The count also receives support from RSPB, Kings, Waitrose, Soil Association, Heather Trust, Conservation Grade, Songbird Survival and the Countryside Alliance.

To sign up for the Scottish Farmland Bird Identification Day on Friday 5 February at Seggiebank, by Milnathort, Kinross-shire contact Katy Machin,

tel: 01572 717220

Big Farmland Bird Count forms can be downloaded from www.gwct.org.uk/BFBC or telephone: 01425 651000