NOW, MORE than ever, farmers are being encouraged to showcase their wildlife conservation efforts and through the annual Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) they have the opportunity to demonstrate the important role they play in supporting the British countryside.

This February will see the return of the seventh Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust BFBC, asking once again for farmers to count the birds they see on their farm.

In 2019, more than 1400 farmers took part, with around 140 different birds recorded. Over 30 red-listed species - those with the highest level of conservation concern - were among the birds spotted, including fieldfares, starlings, house sparrows and yellowhammers – all of which were seen by over 30% of farms taking part.

The upcoming count will take place between February 7 and 16, and offers a simple way of recording the impact of conservation schemes put in place by farmers and gamekeepers, detailing which bird species might be thriving and where more work needs to be done.

This national picture also helps to show where subsidies and environmental schemes are succeeding and where improvements might be needed.

The BFBC was launched in 2014 to highlight the positive work done by land managers in helping to reverse the decline in farmland birds and is led by the head of advisory services for the GWCT, Dr Roger Draycott, he said: “Farmers have a vital role play to play in the future of many of our most cherished farmland bird species. As over 70% of the UK is managed for agriculture, farmers manage our largest songbird habitat, but their efforts to reverse bird declines are often unrecorded. We believe our Big Farmland Bird Count will help remedy this.

“It is also amazing what a difference knowing about the birdlife on your farm can make," he continued. "By appreciating how small changes can bring about a real uplift in the number of birds, farmers we work with have found new enthusiasm for their work. That’s why we’re encouraging farmers who haven’t taken part before to give it a go and see what they find,” he urged.

For those interested in taking part in the count for the firs time, GWCT provides free bird ID guides, spotter guides and profiles on the most commonly-seen species on the BFBC website at

At the end of the count, the results will be analysed by the Trust and all participants will receive a report on the national results once they have been collated.