Farmers, gamekeepers and land managers across Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales are being called on to take part in the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) Big Farmland Bird Count from February 4-20, 2022.
The count, which has been run annually since 2014, gives a vital national snapshot of the health of the UK’s birdlife.
“Farmers and gamekeepers are vital in helping to ensure the survival of many of our cherished farmland bird species such as skylark, yellowhammer, corn buntings and wild grey partridges,” said the GWCT’s Dr. Roger Draycott, who runs the count.
“They are responsible for managing the largest songbird habitat in this country on their land, so they are in a position to make a real difference.”
For the fourth year running, the count is sponsored by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) – supported, among others, by the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) – demonstrating the farming community’s commitment to conserving farmland birds.
NFU president Minette Batters, said: “2021’s results were fantastic with farmers and growers across the country responding to the count in record numbers.
“Not only are farmers producing climate-friendly food, they are also maintaining and protecting the great British countryside, creating habitats for wildlife and additional feeding for farmland birds.
“I encourage all farmers to get involved in the 2022 GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count.”
2,500 counts were completed in 2021, an impressive increase on 2020 when 1,500 count forms came into the GWCT. The area covered by 2021’s count was a massive 2.5 million acres of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, up from 1.4 million acres the year before.
“Now we are challenging the UK’s land managers to beat their own record and make 2022’s count bigger than ever,” said Roger Draycott.
Regular participant Richard Bramley, an arable farmer near York, said the GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count gives him an opportunity to “get an idea of what’s going on because a healthy bird population is an indication of a healthy farm”.
In order to take part, interested parties have to download a count sheet from the Big Farmland Bird Count website (bfbc.org) and spend a total of 30 minutes between the allocated dates counting birds on one spot on farm, plus a few minutes inputting results via the website.
Guides to counting and identifying birds, biodiversity-boosting tips and more details on taking part are all available on the website.