900 farmers sign up for farmland bird count

More than 900 farmers have registered to take part in the first Big Farmland Bird Count.

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Big Farmland Bird Count is taking place this week from 1-7 February across the UK.

Peter Thompson, the GWCT’s farmland biodiversity adviser, said farmers play a crucial role in the survival of farmland birds through the wide range of conservation measures they implement on their land.

He hoped the count would help us understand how these “green” measures were helping “some of our most rapidly declining birds and importantly, which species are benefiting most”.

Somerset farmer Henry Lang (pictured) carried out his count on his 405ha (1,000 acre) commercial farm at Curry Rivel this weekend. He was one of the first to submit his results.

In just half an hour, Mr Lang spotted an impressive range of birds on a 2ha wheat field on his farm. The field, which is surrounded by 6m grass margins, hedging and wild bird seed crops proved a haven for wild birds.

The count revealed flocks of 60 fieldfares, 20 starlings as well as blackbirds, wrens, blue tits, reed buntings, song thrushes, dunnocks, pied wagtails, goldfinches, grey partridges and two goldcrests – one of our smallest bird species.

“Henry showed that, although he runs a profitable commercial farming operation, wild birds are thriving because of the wildlife habitats that have been incorporated in blocks around the farm together with supplementary overwinter feeding,” said Mr Thompson.

For more information on the Big Farmland Bird Count or to participate, visit the GWCT’s website.