This is the third year that the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has organised its Big Farmland Bird Count, a great campaign to highlight how farming and conservation work hand in hand, writes Steve Barber, NFU South Holland.
This is the third year that the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has organised its Big Farmland Bird Count, a great campaign to highlight how farming and conservation work hand in hand.
Last year, nearly 1,000 farmers took part from every English county and the rest of the UK, too. They recorded 127 different species of birds including 19 that are of conservation concern – the ‘red list’ species. This year’s count takes place from February 6 to 14.
Farmers care for the wildlife that lives on their land and they quietly go about protecting, feeding and enhancing habitats without much fanfare or recognition. A field corner that’s difficult to cultivate, a strip of land next to a wood, or a new pond or scrape are ideal places for a bit of ‘wilderness’ on the farm.
Specialist seed mixes to grow bird food for the autumn and winter provide both cover and essential food when natural food sources are scarce. Field headlands and margins often host what must look like scrubby nothingness, but is in fact valuable cover for many different species: solitary bumble bees, field voles and ground-nesting birds all benefit from a farmer’s careful management.
Farming’s contribution and commitment to the future of wild bird populations is important and recording the industry’s successes is vital. We hope that as many farmers as possible will join in with this year’s count and show how diverse and special our farmland is for wild birds.
Find out more about the count and how to join in at http://www.gwct.org.uk/farming/big-farmland-bird-count/