tree sparrow© Neil Bowman/FLPA / imagebroker/Rex/Shutterstock

Farmers are being offered help to identify “little brown jobs” ahead of the fifth annual Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC).

Organisers the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) are hosting a series of farmland bird ID in England, Scotland and Wales.

The first ID day takes place on 17 January and they continue for three weeks up until the start of the count, which runs from 9-18 February 2018.

See also: Quiz – can you spot six common farmland birds?

Participating farmers need to spend 30min at a farm location during the week of the count and record the number of birds and species.

The days aim to help farmers improve their bird identification skills ahead of the count. Each course is led by an expert birder, and will run from 11am-3pm.

At the end of the training, farmers should be able to recognise the top 24 bird species likely to be seen on farmland this winter.

These include some of the most iconic birds of the British countryside such as the barn owl, bullfinch, lapwing, grey partridge, tree sparrow and yellowhammer.

The GWCT says the count is a great opportunity for farmers to demonstrate the positive effect their work is having under agri-environment schemes on improving bird numbers.

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GWCT biodiversity officer Peter Thompson, said: “It is vital that farmers and keepers start to consider the long game by demonstrating more effectively what they are achieving.

“The BFBC is certainly one very positive way to do this and we’d also like to see people take part in ID days, which are crucial ahead of the count.”

GWCT’s Big Farmland Bird Count is sponsored by BASF and delivered in partnership with the FWAG Association, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), the NFU and the Country, Land and Business Association.

There are just 25 places available for each day, costing £10 per person which includes refreshments.

To sign up for the bird ID days, or to download count forms, visit the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust or telephone 01425 651 000.