THE BFBC will run from February 9 to February 18.
Farmers have been urged to dust off their binoculars and prepare for the fifth annual Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) kicking off today.
The count, run by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), will run from February 9 to February 18 and is encouraging farmers, land managers and gamekeepers to spend as little as 30 minutes on the lookout for barn owls, bullfinch, lapwing, grey partridge, tree sparrow and yellowhammer.
Founder Jim Egan said a huge number of farmers and keepers were doing ‘tremendous work’ to boost farmland birds and other wildlife, but more needed to be done to recognise their efforts.
He said: “As well as planting seed mixes to provide winter feed, they also leave weedy stubbles over winter, manage hedgerows so as to leave berries for food, and supplement this by putting out mixed seeds and grain on tracks and field margins.
“However, not everyone appreciates the extent to which farmers and keepers are managing existing habitats and creating new ones specifically to help our farmland birds.
“Now is the time to change all that.”
Last year’s event saw 970 farmers taking part with the fieldfare, starling, house sparrow, song thrush and yellowhammer all recorded in the top 25 commonly seen species despite appearing on the Red List for birds of conservation concern.
BASF environmental and stewardship manager Mike Green, the main sponsor of the count, said it was a ‘wonderful opportunity’ for citizen science being carried out by farmers to demonstrate the range of species which depend on British farmland during the winter months.
NFU vice president Guy Smith added: “10,000 football pitches worth of flower habitat have been planted, creating homes for wildlife, while more than 30,000km of hedgerows have been planted and restored.
“This year’s BFBC provides farmers with another great opportunity to show we are fully engaged with conservation.
“I would encourage as many farmers as possible to get the binoculars out, dust off the notepad, sharpen the pencil and get recording as you go out and about on the farm.”
How you can get involved