More than 1,500 farmers across Britain overcame challenging weather conditions to make the 2020 Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC), which showcased the role of farming in the countryside.
Taking place from February 7-16, the national initiative invited farmers to count the birds they saw on their farm and offered a simple way of recording the positive effect of conversation schemes set up by farmers and gamekeepers.
Despite heavy rainfall forcing organisers to extend the event, farmers united to record more than 120 species across 1.4 million acres in the Game and Wildlife Conservative Trust (CWCT) initiative, which totalled 67,000 of 25 red-listed species including woodpigeons, starlings, lapwings, black-headed gulls and rooks.
Roger Draycott, GWCT head of advisory and coordinator of this year’s count, said: “This highlights the commitment of farmers to not only undertake farm wildlife conservation measures but to record and evaluate the benefits of this vital conservation work.”
The BFBC was launched in 2014 to highlight the positive work done by farmers in helping to reserve the decline in farmland birds and is sponsored by the NFU.
Mr Draycott highlighted the increased focus on delivering ‘public goods’ in the Government’s future Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme meant understanding ‘what is on your farm’ had become increasingly important.
According to the GWCT, half the participants were in some form of agri-environment scheme and about 36 per cent of farmers who participated provided extra feed for birds.
NFU president Minette Batters praised the efforts of those involved in the bird count and added it was a ‘great way’ for farmers to record the birdlife found on their farms.
She said: “British farmers will continue to work around the clock to produce food for the nation, particularly during the current exceptional circumstances, and will continue to enhance our iconic British countryside.”