Farmers asked to take part in Big Farmland Bird Count

Farmers, gamekeepers and land managers are being asked to sign up to the ninth annual Big Farmland Bird Count, which takes place from 4-20 February 2022.

More than 1,800 farmers took part in last year’s event, recording more than 130 species across one million hectares in the UK.

The annual health check of farmland birds aims to highlight the hard work done by farmers and gamekeepers to help reverse the decline of threatened species such as lapwing and linnet. It also gives a vital snapshot of the health of the UK’s birdlife.

See also: More farmland and upland birds ‘red-listed’ says RSPB

Organiser the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) is aiming to make this year’s count bigger than ever.

Roger Draycott, organiser and head of advisory services at the GWCT, said: “The latest assessment of the status of the UK’s birds, the Birds of Conservation Concern list, sadly shows that more than one in four species is in serious trouble.

“Land managers and gamekeepers can make a real and immediate difference by adopting effective conservation measures. The UK’s farmland birds are counting on you.”

The NFU will be sponsoring this year’s count for the fourth year running.

NFU president Minette 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, as it is such a great way to monitor and record the birdlife found on farm.”

Good break

Hampshire farmer Tim Walters, who takes part in the count each year, said: “As we continue to be heavily involved in stewardship and environmental work on the farms, it is really interesting to spend half an hour each year counting wild birds.

“It is a good break from the rigours of day-to-day commercial farming and shows the beneficial work that so many farming colleagues do to manage the countryside and its flora and fauna.”

How to take part in the Big Farmland Bird Count

1) Download your count sheet (PDF).

2) Count your birds. On a day between 4 and 20 February, spend about 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one area of the farm.

3) Once you’ve completed your count, simply submit your results online.