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Big Farmland Bird Count returns in February


By David Porter

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Scottish farmers and crofters are being encouraged to join the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) which takes place from Februray 2 to 18.

As well as providing a crucial snapshot of the bird population on farms and crofts across the UK, the annual count aims to raise awareness of the important role that farmers, crofters and other land managers play in the conservation of farmland birds.

Species recorded include blackbirds. Picture: Maries Nicolai
Species recorded include blackbirds. Picture: Maries Nicolai

Since its launch in 2014, the past decade has seen nearly 13,000 bird counts on farms and crofts across the UK.

Organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), the BFBC is sponsored by NFU, and NFU Scotland is an official partner.

Martin Kennedy, President of NFU Scotland, said: “Scotland’s farmers and crofters have a fantastic story to tell on food production, lowering emissions and enhancing habitats and biodiversity.

"We need facts and figures to show to everyone the journey that we are on.

“Our farms and crofts are alive with nature, and our stunning birdlife in Scotland is something to be celebrated.

"I would encourage as many farmers and crofters as possible to participate in the 2024 count, record how many bird species you spot on your farm or croft this coming February and submit your results to GWCT.

“This long-running invaluable survey pulls together a vital national snapshot of the state of nation when it comes to our birds. I urge all farmers and crofters to take half-an-hour out of their busy schedules to enjoy and record the incredible birdlife around them.”

Explaining the role of the survey, Dr Louise de Raad, Head of Research Scotland at the GWCT said: “Farmland birds have declined by 63 per cent since 1970 and desperately need our help.

“With 75 per cent of Scotland’s land area used for agriculture, and 72 per cent across the UK as a whole, the key to increasing biodiversity and reversing the decline in wildlife is held by those looking after this land. To figure out how to do this, it is important to have information from long term initiatives such as the BFBC.”

Species guides, including short videos, are available at www.bfbc.org.uk

Count sheets can be downloaded from the BFBC website www.bfbc.org.uk

Count your birds! On any day between 2 and 18 February 2024, spend about 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of the farm or croft.

Once complete, results can be submitted online.


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