Minette Batters, NFU President, and GWCT's Peter Thompson spot birds in the driving rain during 2019's Big Farmland Bird Count.
Organisers of the Big Farmland Bird Count 2021 are asking farmers to spend just 30 minutes recording the farmland birds they see on their land.
The annual count, run by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and sponsored by the NFU, is scheduled for 5 – 14 February 2021. Follow the steps below to find out how to take part.
The 2020 Big Farmland Bird Count was a huge success
Last year, more than 1,500 farmers across Britain overcame challenging conditions to make the 2020 Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) the biggest since it launched in 2014 (read more here).
“With 71% of Britain’s countryside looked after by farmers, land managers and gamekeepers, they are crucial to ensuring the survival of cherished bird species like skylarks, yellowhammers, corn buntings and wild grey partridges,” says Dr Roger Draycott, organiser and head of advisory services at the GWCT.
“Many of them are already doing fantastic work to support and conserve our native species, including supplementary feeding through winter or growing crops specifically to provide seed for birds, which often goes unrecognised. The Big Farmland Bird Count gives them a chance to see the results of their efforts and provides a crucial national snapshot of the health of the UK’s farmland birds.”
It will be the third year that the NFU has sponsored the nationwide citizen science project that helps show which farmland birds are benefiting from conservation efforts while identifying the species most in need of help.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “Alongside producing climate-friendly food, farmers are working hard to maintain and improve the iconic British countryside by enhancing habitats, supporting pollinators and soils, and protecting wildlife.
“The Big Farmland Bird Count is always a fantastic way for farmers to record the birdlife found on their farms and last year saw record numbers of farmers braving stormy weather to take part and record many different threatened species of farmland birds.
“I am pleased that the NFU is able to sponsor this event and I would encourage all farmers to take part, so we can again pull together a vital national snapshot of the state of the nation’s farmland birds."
A perching yellowhammer
2020’s Big Farmland Bird Count saw record numbers of farmers taking part: over 1,500 participants recorded more than 120 species across 1.4 million acres. The 2020 event also saw more counts returned by ‘farmer clusters’ or groups of farmers working together on conservation projects, providing species data at a wider landscape level as well as at individual farm level.
Encouragingly, 25 species from the Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern were recorded in 2020, with nine of them appearing in the 25 most commonly seen list and nine in the most abundant species list, including fieldfares, starlings, linnets and lapwings. Blackbirds and woodpigeons were the most seen species in 2020, followed by robins, blue tits and pheasants.