13 February 2015

Early results from farm bird count

Early results from a major count of farmland birds reveal sightings of several rare species. The farmers participating in the Big Farmland Bird Count recorded seeing 117 bird types, including 14 at-risk species, these included the linnet, the yellowhammer, starling and lapwing. The organisers expressed delight with the preliminary results, calling them “remarkable.” According to the latest government figures, farmland birds are at their lowest levels since records began. Numbers of birds such as grey partridge, turtle dove and starling are down more than 85% since the 1970s and much of this decline has been blamed on modern intensive farming methods. Jim Egan, head of development and training at the Trust said: “There has been an enormous sea-change in the way many farmers now manage their land to benefit wildlife and through the Big Farmland Bird Count, we wanted to give them an opportunity of show-casing what their conservation efforts deliver on the ground.” The idea is to “inspire envy” with farmers wanting to show off the most rare and the widest variety of species on their land. A spokesperson for the RSPB told BBC News: “Farmers are crucial to ensuring these birds thrive. We think this project is a great help for the individual farmer to think about and hopefully put in place the habitats those species need all year round.”

For more information visit www.bbc.co.uk/news