NUMBERS OF some farmland birds are recovering but species such as turtle dove and corn bunting are still on the decline, according to DEFRA figures.

The department says there are encouraging signs of recovery from some of the farmland species such as goldfinch and rook, but this is not true for all farmland species.

It says farmland specialists – those birds that breed mainly or solely on farmland – have fared particularly badly.

But overall, it admits, the farmland bird ‘indicator‘ is virtually unchanged from the 2000 figure.

Junior DEFRA minister Elliott Morley said it was good to see the graph showing a decline in farmland bird numbers flattening out at last.

“However, the trend is not universal throughout the UK, and there are still some worrying declines in farmland specialists such as turtle dove and corn bunting.

“We must continue our efforts to address the underlying problems.”

Mr Morley said the government was rolling out its Entry Level agri-environment scheme in 2005 which it wanted the majority of farmers in England to join.

“This will have the effect of producing wide-scale benefits for farmland birds, particularly those that are still widely distributed, but whose populations have declined.”