Know your birds for the Big Farmland Bird Count

Corn bunting on post
Corn bunting on post

With just three months until the fourth Big Farmland Bird Count, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) is offering an exciting opportunity for those farmers who are thinking of taking part to book on to a farmland bird identification training session.

If you’re a farmer and not confident about telling a tree sparrow from a house sparrow this course could be for you.

If you can’t name every bird you see on your farm, the 20 ID days across the UK to help farmers recognise them. With days between 9 January to 3 February they are run by a farmland bird expert, along with a host farmer.

Jim Egan, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

Jim Egan of the GWCT comments: “If you can’t name every bird you see on your farm, the 20 ID days across the UK to help farmers recognise them.

“With days between 9 January to 3 February they are run by a farmland bird expert, along with a host farmer.

“By the end of the ID day you should be able to recognise the top 20 bird species you can expect to see on your land over the winter period.

“In addition, a colour ID guide is provided to those who attend, with a focus on birds that are harder to identify.

“I would say to anyone thinking about taking part – do it. Get out and enjoy the birds on your farm and give us the opportunity to shout about the great work you’re doing.”

Jim continued: “Over 970 farmers took part in 2016, recording 130 species of birds across approximately 900,000 acres. This year we are aiming to at least double the number of people taking part. So get trained and give the count a go.”

Special offer vouchers for seed mixes that will be given to each participant have been kindly provided by Syngenta and Kings and BASF Plc and Limagrain UK.

Graham Hartwell, Environmental Stewardship Manager UK/Ire at BASF Plc commented: “The continued success of the BFBC is due to the interest and commitment of increasing numbers of farmers to show the wider farming industry what can be achieved from some small changes to their farm management.

“Many new participants are inspired from the identification days where understanding the needs of farmland birds and learning that simple management changes can help support many species.

“The experience of learning how to help each species is a positive step forward.

“Just how small and spectacularly coloured our bird species are, are just two of the learning points that can be experienced on an ID day, and change many supporters approach to both habitat management and talking about their farms and the wildlife they support.”

The 2017 ID days are:

January

11th - Shropshire

17th - Essex

18th - West Midlands

20th - Nottinghamshire

23rd - Perthshire

24th - Cornwall

24th - Hertfordshire

25th - County Durham

26th - Northern Ireland

30th - Aberdeenshire

February

1st - Somerset

2nd- North Yorkshire

2nd- Wiltshire

2nd -West Sussex

3rd - Norfolk

3rd- Leicestershire

3rd- Thetford

3rd – Oxfordshire

A further day is currently being arranged in Herefordshire.

Feedback from those who attended last year was very positive, with comments such as “great day – inspired to do more habitat enrichment”, “brilliant day, learnt a lot,” and “very informative and worthwhile event”.

The ID days cost £10 per person and places sold out very quickly last year. For more information please visit https://www.gwct.org.uk/farming/big-farmland-bird-count/farmland-bird-id-days/

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