Nature charity seeks local wildlife watchers

Yellowhammer
Yellowhammer

Nature conservation charity RSPB Northern Ireland is appealing for volunteers to help them count the wildlife that counts on local farmland.

East County Down is one of the charity’s focus areas as it’s a stronghold for threatened seed-eating birds like yellowhammers, reed buntings and linnets.

Reed bunting, male singing on hawthorn

Reed bunting, male singing on hawthorn

RSPB NI conservation advisor Laura Hopkins explains: “We’re conducting surveys to get an idea of local bird populations, particularly priority seed-eating species like yellowhammers.

“Their numbers have declined rapidly in recent years, largely due to changes in and use and a subsequent shortage of food. They are now red-listed (of highest conservation concern) in the UK and Ireland.

She added: “We want to find out where these birds are breeding so we can focus our efforts on these sites and give advice to local farmers on how to help, while still maintaining a profitable farm business.

“For example, taking small steps like sowing seed-rich crops can make a huge difference for hungry birds.”

We’re conducting surveys to get an idea of local bird populations, particularly priority seed-eating species like yellowhammers.

Laura Hopkins, RSPB NI conservation advisor

Surveys will be delivered between mid-April and mid-July and, when complete, farmers will receive tailored advice on how to best manage the habitat for the species recorded.

Surveys should take no more than four hours, and each farm needs to be surveyed once in April, twice in May, and once in June, with at least two weeks between each visit.

Don’t worry if your bird ID skills leave a little to be desired – full training will be provided.

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer surveyor, please contact laura.hopkins@rspb.org.uk or call 07703 607626.

Linnet

Linnet