The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has announced the 4th Big Farmland Bird Count will take place from 3-12 February 2017. During that week, farmers across the UK are asked to record and report what species of birds and how many have been sighted on their farm. The results provide an indication as to whether farmland bird numbers are in decline, on their farm or if the conservation efforts of farmers are proving successful.
“On their land, farmers and gamekeepers are responsible for managing the largest songbird habitat in this country, but often their efforts to reverse bird declines are unrecorded;” comments Jim Egan, Head of Development & Advisory at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust. “The Big Farmland Bird Count gives them an opportunity of showing what their conservation efforts deliver on the ground.”
This year, for the first time, participants in the count will be able to use the latest technology to log their sightings. Developed by Agrantec, experts in using cloud technology in the farming sector, a platform will be available to those who register, which can be accessed via a computer, or can be downloaded as an App. Once registered, participants will be able to upload their results, access species information and view their records. At the end of the count, the GWCT will be able to collate the national results efficiently and accurately.
Jim Egan continues, “We need to help farmers and gamekeepers ensure the future survival of many farmland bird species such as skylark, yellowhammer, corn buntings and fieldfare. To help them recognise these birds and more, we will be holding a series of farmland bird ID days at farms across the UK from 9 January to 3 February. Each day will be run by a farmland bird expert, alongside a host farmer, and we would hope that participants would be able to recognise the top 20 bird species likely to be seen on farmland over winter.”
The GWCT Allerton Project is a demonstration farm in Leicestershire, and over the course of 25 years of research the team has established that it’s possible to reverse the decline in farmland birds. Songbird numbers have changed considerably in response to game management at the Project. Following seven years of management for wild game, the GWCT saw songbird numbers on the farm doubling, and they are now 90% higher than they were in 1992.