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Farmers invited to get involved in Big Bird Count


By David G Scott

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Members of the Caithness farming community are invited to get involved in a country-wide bird conservation initiative next month.

Last year more than 1500 farmers took part across the UK in the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC), the most since it was launched in 2014 by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), and more than 120 bird species were recorded.

In Scotland 81 species were recorded across 81,362 acres. Nineteen of these were red-listed, with the five most commonly seen species being blackbird, pheasant, robin, blue tit and carrion crow.

The blackbird – the most popular farmland bird in last year’s Big Farmland Bird Count.Picture: Marlies Nicolai, GWCT
The blackbird – the most popular farmland bird in last year’s Big Farmland Bird Count.Picture: Marlies Nicolai, GWCT

The 2021 count takes place from 5-14 February and, as in previous years, it provides a simple means of assessing the effect of conservation schemes currently initiated by farmers and gamekeepers on their land such as supplementary feeding or growing wild bird seed crops and game cover crops.

Farmers and gamekeepers are vital in helping to ensure the survival of many of our farmland bird species such as skylark, yellowhammer and wild grey partridge.

From GWCT’s research at its Allerton Project farm in Leicestershire and also now at its Scottish Demonstration Farm at Auchnerran in Aberdeenshire the Trust is gaining a greater understanding of the needs of farmland game and wildlife and the importance of the combined benefit of, for example, habitat management, winter feeding and targeted legal predator control in the breeding season.

The robin was one of the popular sighting from last year's count. Picture: DGS
The robin was one of the popular sighting from last year's count. Picture: DGS

Those wanting to get involved should visit the GWCT BFBC web page www.bfbc.org.uk

Then between 5-14 February they should spend about 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of the farm – somewhere with a good view of around two hectares of the farm is ideal.

Ideally, counting should take place at first light as this is when the birds are most active. However, what is most important is that you take part and submit a return, so timings should suit whoever is doing the count.

Posing riverside robin makes a pretty picture



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