BRITAIN'S BIG Farmland Bird Count is back for its eighth year running, and once more is calling on farmers and gamekeepers to record the species of birds spotted on their land.

The count is due to take place from February 5 to 14, during which time participants are encouraged to spend about 30 minutes recording the species and number of birds seen on one particular area of the farm – preferably at first light when birds are most active.

Last year more than 1500 farmers took part across the UK – the most since it was launched in 2014 by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust – and more than 120 bird species were recorded.

In Scotland 81 species were recorded across 81,362 acres. While 19 of these were red-listed, the five most commonly seen species being blackbird, pheasant, robin, blue tit and carrion crow.

The BFBC 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.

Those wanting to get involved should visit the GWCT BFBC web page