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Plea from New Forest charity Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust over Big Farmland Bird Count



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FARMERS and gamekeepers are being encouraged to take part in a nationwide songbird study organised by a New Forest charity.

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), based in Fordingbridge, is running the Big Farmland Bird Count from 4th to 20th February.

It asks farmers and land managers to spend 30 minutes on any day counting birds on one spot on the farm, ideally with a good view of two hectares.

Farmers are asked to keep an eye out for rare species such as the lapwing (photo: Nick Lucas)
Farmers are asked to keep an eye out for rare species such as the lapwing (photo: Nick Lucas)

Event organiser Dr Roger Draycott, from the trust, said: “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.

“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.”

The Big Farmland Bird Count has run since 2014 to provide a vital snapshot of the health of the UK’s birdlife and highlight the work done by farmers and land managers to reverse the decline of many species.

In 2021 farmers and volunteers completed 2,500 counts, covering around 2.4-million acres.

Event sponsors the National Farmers’ Union said that farmers have an important role in maintaining and conserving the British countryside.

Roger Draycott of Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust
Roger Draycott of Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

Farmers can support wild bird populations such as by providing winter seed feed and conservation headlands where weeds grow to support insects.

Other suggestions include small wet areas, leaving some an uncropped land for nesting and foraging for rare birds such as lapwing, skylark, stone curlew and turtle dove.

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.”

Visit www.bfbc.org.uk



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