More than 1,500 farmers across Britain overcame challenging conditions to make the 2020 Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) the biggest since it launched in 2014.
Farmers battled through the worst winter flooding in recent years to show they are not only at the frontline of the country’s food security, but also its conservation efforts. Their dedication was rewarded as they recorded more than 120 species across 1.4 million acres in the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) initiative this February. Due to storms Ciara and Dennis hitting both weekends of the count, organisers took the step to extend the count window by a week in response to calls from hundreds of farmers who wanted to take part but couldn’t do so. The commitment of those counting at a time when tens of thousands of acres were left inundated with floodwater should not be overlooked.
An impressive 25 red-listed species were recorded, with nine featuring in the 25 most commonly seen species. Of these, fieldfares, starlings, linnets and lapwings were the four most abundant red-listed species recorded, with over 67,000 total spotted, which equates to 24% of all species spotted. The five most abundant birds seen were woodpigeons, starlings, lapwings, black-headed gulls and rooks.
“The fact that we received a record-breaking number of count returns despite Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis wreaking havoc for many farm businesses is remarkable,” said Roger Draycott, GWCT Head of Advisory, who took on responsibility for co-ordinating this year’s count. “This highlights the commitment of farmers to not only undertake farm wildlife conservation measures but also to record and evaluate the benefits of this vital conservation work.”