Call for farmers to take part in 2022 Big Farmland Bird Count

A call has gone out to the UK’s farmers and land managers to take part in the GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count
A call has gone out to the UK’s farmers and land managers to take part in the GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count

Farmers are being asked to spend 30 minutes of their time recording the farmland birds they see on their land as part of an annual initiative.

The Big Farmland Bird Count returns in 2022, and organisers are asking farmers and land managers to participate.

The project shows which farmland birds are benefitting from conservation efforts while identifying the species most in need of help.

The annual count, run by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is scheduled to start on the 4th February until the 20th.

It comes after the RSPB recently added more farmland bird species to its 'red list', warning that the state of UK bird populations continue to decline.

The latest review of the red list, published last month, shows that the UK’s bird species are increasingly at risk, with the list growing from 67 to 70.

Eleven species were red-listed for the first time in 2021, six due to worsening declines in breeding populations, including Greenfinch, Swift, House Martin, Ptarmigan, Purple Sandpiper and Montagu’s Harrier.

Dr Roger Draycott, organiser at the GWCT, said farmers and gamekeepers were 'vital' in helping to ensure the survival of the UK's farmland bird species.

“They are responsible for managing the largest songbird habitat in this country on their land, so they are in a position to make a real difference.”

The count has been organised by the GWCT every year since 2014, highlighting the work many farmers undertake to help reverse species’ declines.

The NFU is sponsoring the Big Farmland Bird Count for the fourth year running, with president Minette Batters saying that last year's turnout was 'fantastic'.

Approximately 2,500 counts were completed in 2021, an increase on 2020 when 1,500 count forms came into the GWCT.

The area covered by 2021’s count was 2.5 million acres of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, up from 1.4million acres the year before.

Mrs Batters said: “Not only are farmers producing climate-friendly food, they are also maintaining and protecting the great British countryside, creating habitats for wildlife and additional feeding for farmland birds.

"I encourage all farmers to get involved in the 2022 GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count," she added.

Farmers wanting to participate can download a count sheet and spend 30 minutes between 4 and 20 February counting birds on one spot on-farm.

Guides to counting and identifying birds and more details on taking part are all available on the GWCT's website.