Friday, 31 January 2014

Nearly 1,000 have downloaded their count sheets - have you?

Nearly 1,000 people have downloaded their count sheet for the Big Farmland Bird Count which gets underway on Saturday 1st February.

We have produced two sheets - one is a simple ticksheet to record the species and number of birds seen. This sheet is for those who intend to submit their results online.

For those who are returning their results by post we have produced a full count sheet which includes details about the farm and habitat.

Download your count sheet

Download bird ticksheet >

Download full count sheet >

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Big Farmland Bird Count in the news

We've been very pleased with the amount of positive coverage the Big Farmland Bird Count has generated in the run-up to the launch.

The farming press have been very supportive and now Countryfile and BirdGuides have published articles about the count:

Read Countryfile article >

Read BirdGuides article >

A reminder - the Big Farmland Bird Count starts on Saturday!

The long wait is over - the Big Farmland Bird Count is finally upon us so here is a quick reminder about what we're asking you to do.

Between 1st and 7th February we're asking you to spend about 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of the farm, ideally somewhere with a good view of around 2 ha of the farm.


If you're planning to submit your count results online all you need is this simple ticksheet to record which species you see.

Once you've completed your count you'll be able to submit your results online here.

If you're going to be returning your results by post you'll need to download the full count sheet here.


Don't forget you can win 2ha of wild seed mix and an advisory visit or an iPad Mini by entering our photo competition.

Simply take a photo within the area of the farm where you are counting and email it to or tweet us at @gameandwildlife. We will then publish the 10 best photos on our Big Farmland Bird Count blog and visitors will be able to vote for their favourite.


We've made it as straightforward as possible for you to tell us your count findings. You'll be able to quickly and easily submit your results online or send them to us by post from the 1st February onwards. We'll send you another email on 9th February to remind you.


If you need any help with downloading the count sheets or submitting your results online please email

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Mike Rae's blog about the BFBC

Birds. Many of them are small, brown, fly around (fast), are shy, and change their feathers between seasons and as they get older. Often it is difficult to identify them and counting them can be a real challenge. Most of the information on our bird population comes from thousands of volunteers identifying and counting the birds in their gardens and local area...

Monday, 27 January 2014

Stop press! Only one week left to find where on earth you put those binoculars!

Don't panic - but there is only one week to go before the big farmland bird count!

I hope that the farmers amongst you who read this blog will dig out your binoculars and get onto the farm to see what you can spot...

Read Peter Thompson's blog >

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Choosing your count location and time

We're asking people to count between the 1st and 7th February 2014 for about 30 minutes, recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of the farm.

You can choose your own location but somewhere with a good view of around 2 ha of the farm would be ideal. You'll be asked to record the types of habitat and cropping on and adjacent to your count site to help provide us with more detail about your count location.

To see the highest number of birds we would recommend that the site includes or is close to an area of game or wild seed mix or somewhere that supplementary feeding takes place.

Ideally, counting should take place at first light as this is when the birds are most active. However, it is more important that you take part, so timings should suit you.

Have you registered for BFBC email updates yet? If not click here >

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

GUEST BLOG: A farmer's take on the BFBC

The following post has been written by Andy Roberts who farms in the South Staffordshire area and took part in our successful pilot count last year:

I'm really pleased to be involved with the Big Farmland Bird Count. I am taking part in the count to see which birds are doing well as a result of conservation measures we have put in place, and indeed those which aren't, so that we can continue to learn and improve our wild bird habitat management. 

I'm sure there will be many farmers taking part in the count such as myself who don't shoot and don't run any kind of commercial shoot on their farm.
The results will ultimately be used to look at trends over several years, not to contradict other long standing research like the BTO bird atlas, which I also contributed to.
For those of you who haven't looked it's also worth noting that The GWCT website is a very valuable source of research for conservationists and farmers with a keen interest in wildlife as well as for those just interested in game. The clue is in the name after all.

To register for email updates on all the latest count news please click here >

Get involved and show you care! An update from Jim Egan...

Having been out of the office for the last few days I spent this morning catching up with the usual inbox full of emails and the list of phone messages. One topic that seems to have dominated both has been the Big Farmland Bird Count – there are requests for farmer interviews in local and regional newspapers, requests for information from TV and Radio programmes but most importantly there have been queries, questions and suggestions from farmers who are looking to take part in the count.

We have already had nearly 400 farmers register their intention to take part.

A range of organisations such the NFU, CLA, LEAF The FWAG Association, Conservation Grade and Soil Association are encouraging their members to take part.

We want this to become an annual event and for that to happen we need all the support we can get in this first year. It’s a chance for farmers and gamekeepers to shout about what they do and hopefully it will convince others that they can do something to help birds and other wildlife on their farms.

Get involved and show you care!

Click here to register your interest >

Jim Egan
Head of Development & Training at the GWCT's Allerton Project

Monday, 20 January 2014

Care farm inviting people to take part in count

A Welsh care farm that supports and educates vulnerable and disadvantaged young people is encouraging people to take part in the Big Farmland Bird Count on Sunday 2nd February.

Set in 160 acres in Barry, Amelia Trust Farm is a working farm, registered charity & open to the public daily.

Those who wish to take part in the count can visit the farm at 10am on Sunday 2nd February - all you need are a pair of binoculars and a pair of wellies.

State of farmland bird populations discussed in parliament

The issue of declining farmland bird populations was raised in the House of Commons on 15th January by Sir John Randall, Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust also received an honourable mention for our work in urging both farmers and gamekeepers to sign up to our action plan for grey partridges.

Read full transcript here >

Friday, 17 January 2014

GWCT advice on wild bird seed mixture

Modern farming leaves little residue seed for birds. So, growing a few areas of crop especially for birds will increase their chances of survival. Probably more than any other option this one is likely to produce the best pay-back in terms of wildlife in the shortest possible time. Indeed, if farmers choose to get all their ELS points with this option alone, the benefits for birds will be considerable.

As a rule, do not just adopt one seed mixture and replicate it across the farm. Use different seed mixes for different purposes. There are two main requirements:

Summer brood-rearing cover

This should be good foraging habitat for game chicks and should have as well some seed plants for finches and sparrows. These crops are best grown as strips alongside nesting cover which may be in the form of buffer strip, hedgerow or beetle bank. The plants must not create a thick impenetrable sward but provide an open network of  stems through which broods of game can forage out of sight and under cover. Millet, linseed and triticale make an ideal mix.

Winter food and shelter

The mixture for these areas should, if possible, be based on kale. It should be mixed with heavy seeding crops such as quinoa. The kale provides an umbrella of cover in winter under which the ground is kept moist and warm, allowing thrushes and insectivorous birds to feed in safety. The quinoa provides a staple for buntings and finches. These winter crops are best grown in blocks. This decreases the extent to which the crop can be damaged by deer and rabbits. ELS options for wild bird seed mixtures EF2, EF3 and EG3 are key habitats for farmland birds.

Countdown to the Big Farmland Bird Count

The Big Farmland Bird Count is now only a couple of weeks away and is continuing to generate a great deal of interest. Jim Egan, from the GWCT’s Allerton Project, said:

“The response to our Big Farmland Bird Count, which takes place on the 1 – 7th February, has been remarkable and we are thrilled that so many farmers have signed up to take part. We are also delighted that the count is being backed by many important farming organisations such as LEAF, FWAG, NFU, CLA, the Soil Association, Conservation Grade plus many others who are supporting this important initiative by encouraging their members to take part.”

Read latest press release >

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

How do I submit my count results?

We're making it as straightforward as possible for you to tell us your count findings.

You'll be able to quickly and easily submit your results online or send them to us by post.

Read more >

The information you submit will of course remain strictly confidential.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A big thank you to LEAF

A big thank you to LEAF for promoting the Big Farmland Bird Count in their recent email newsletter, we've had a great response and lots of people have registered for email updates.

If you'd like to sign up for email updates about the count you can do so here.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Farmers urged to count birds to help conservation

As featured in Farmers Weekly:

Farmers are being urged to take part in the first annual Big Farmland Bird Count and help researchers understand how conservation work is helping threatened species.

Read full article >

Friday, 10 January 2014

Which birds are we counting?

The Big Farmland Bird Count offers a simple means of recording the effect of any conservation schemes currently being initiated by farmers and gamekeepers on their land such as supplementary feeding or growing wild bird seed crops and game cover crops.

It is also a useful way of gaining personal insight on how well their birds are faring.

So which birds are we asking people to count? You can download our simple count sheet to see which species we're interested in recording and see some of the more important birds in more detail here.