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Big Farmland Bird Count 2016 sees record number of species spotted

The results are in for the third Big Farmland Bird Count.

Alice   Singleton

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Alice   Singleton
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130 different species were spotted in this years count, a record for the BFBC
130 different species were spotted in this years count, a record for the BFBC

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) Big Farmland Bird Count saw almost 1,000 farmers, gamekeepers and land managers flock together in what was the third count of its kind.

 

130 different species were spotted - the highest number of species counted since the county started in 2014.

 

Double participants

 

Participants took half an hour out of their busy schedules to count between February 6 and 14 and, despite the bad weather, the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) organiser, Jim Egan said the number of participants has nearly doubled since the first year.

 

Mr Egan said: "It is really exciting to see so many people taking part in the count this year.

 

"Despite the horrible weather at the start of the count week, we’ve nearly doubled the total number of participants since the first year, and many of those who took part in the first year have continued to submit their results every time.

 

"It really does show that farmers have a long-term commitment to conservation management.”

 

Records

 

As well as a record number of species spotted, a total of 25 Red List species were recorded, beating the numbers spotted during previous counts.

 

Six Red List species made it into the ’most commonly seen species’ list: fieldfares, house sparrows, starlings, yellowhammers, song thrushes and skylarks.

 

Progress

 

Environmental stewardship manager at BASF, Graham Hartwell said the count ’demonstrated the progress being made by farmers to create and maintain farm habitats to encourage farmland birds’.

 

He said: "That even more farmers attended bird identification training days and recorded their observations on their farms gives great encouragement to all farmers to join in and show how they have improved stewardship of the farmed environment on their commercial farms.

 

“We look forward to another successful year with the BFBC, knowing that plans are already in place for training meetings in preparation for the 2017 BFBC survey.”

 

Patterns

 

Now in its third year, the GWCT is starting to see patterns developing, for example the five most abundant birds from this year are almost the same as they were in 2014 and 2015.

 

These were woodpigeons, starlings, rooks, fieldfares and lapwings.

 

NFU vice president, Guy Smith shared his personal experience of the BFBC.

 


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Locations

 

He said: "I like to pick a different spot every year to see if we get different species in different locations.

 

"Last year it was the middle of the marsh, so it was dominated by species such as lapwing, golden plover and brent geese.

 

"This year I stood in the field adjacent to my house with an elm hedge on one side and hawthorn on the other.

 

"I’m one of those farmer gardeners whose garden merges into the farm.

 

Ouzel


"If I was ever to sell up, I’d encourage the estate agent to describe the house as ‘extensively surrounded grazed lawns’.

 

“Anyway, I digress. The count yielded 21 species including three species of tit (great, blue, long-tailed in the hedges).

 

"And just to add a hint of the unusual there was a ring ouzel frolicking with the thrushes and blackbirds. It’s not often I say to Mrs Smith: ‘Look darling, there’s an ouzel in my paddocks’.”

 

 

Photo credits: Peter Thompson and Guy Smith

 

Big Farmland Bird Count 2017

  • Next year, the BFBC will take place between February 4 and 15, 2017.
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