Two goldfinches mid-flightGoldfinches in flight. (c) Laurie Campbell

More than 1,400 farmers across the country have signed up to the second Big Farmland Bird Count.

The event, led by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), will take place from 7-15 February.

It aims to help farmers and gamekeepers record the effect on farmland bird numbers of any conservation schemes on their land, such as supplementary feeding or growing wild bird seed crops and game cover crops.

See also: Farmland bird count records 116 species

“The Big Farmland Bird Count is an excellent way for farmers to demonstrate the wide range of conservation management that is now taking place on UK farmland for the benefit of many declining bird species such as starling, grey partridge and yellowhammer.”
Jim Egan, GWCT

Jim Egan, from the GWCT’s Allerton Project, said: “It is crucial that farmers understand how these vital ‘greening’ measures are helping some of our most rapidly declining birds and importantly, what species are benefiting from these measures.

“Having a better understanding of what is working well is hugely important as it will help farmers to target their work for farmland bird recovery more accurately.”

During the count farmers and gamekeepers will be invited to spend half an hour recording the species and number of birds seen on one area of the farm.

Once the sightings have been recorded they should be sent to the GWCT.

Farmland bird ID days

  • Hampshire – 26 January (SOLD OUT!)
  • Norfolk (Hockwold) – 26 January
  • Somerset – 26 January (SOLD OUT!)
  • Midlothian, Scotland – 27 January
  • Goole – 28 January
  • Nottingham – 30 January
  • Essex – 5 February
  • Derbyshire – 5 February

* To register interest in attending the bird identification days or to download count forms go online or telephone 01425 651 000.

Ahead of the event, the GWCT is hosting a series of farmland bird identification days around the country (see box). Led by local birding experts, they aim to help farmers recognise birds in their area, especially hard-to-identify species known as “little brown jobs”.

There are still some places available on the bird ID days, including some extra days that are being supported by the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Groups in Essex and Derbyshire. Those interested should register on the GWCT’s website to reserve a place.

Last year, 500 farmers took part in the inaugural count. Therefore, Mr Egan said he was thrilled so many people had already registered for this year’s event.

He added: “The Big Farmland Bird Count is an excellent way for farmers to demonstrate the wide range of conservation management that is now taking place on UK farmland for the benefit of many declining bird species such as starling, grey partridge and yellowhammer.”