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Farmers urged to sign up for 2018 Big Farmland Bird Count workshops

Participants at one of the Big Farmland Bird Count identification workshops in 2017. Picture: Ian Burt

Participants at one of the Big Farmland Bird Count identification workshops in 2017. Picture: Ian Burt

East Anglian farmers have been encouraged to sign up for a bird identification workshop to improve their knowledge ahead of the fifth annual Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC).

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) launched the annual count in 2014 to highlight the positive work done by farmers and gamekeepers to help reverse the decline in farmland bird numbers.

Ahead of next year’s count, which runs from February 9-18, the organisation is holding a series of events to help identify birds that can be tricky to differentiate, such as a dunnock from a tree sparrow.

Each workshop will be run by a bird expert alongside a host farmer, aiming to give participants more confidence in spotting the species most likely to be seen on farmland during winter, such as the barn owl, bullfinch, lapwing, grey partridge, tree sparrow and yellowhammer. A colour ID guide is also provided, with a focus on birds that are harder to identify.

Jim Egan, founder of the BFBC and head of training and development at the GWCT, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for farmers to gain a better understanding of how to identify a range of farmland birds, and what they can do in the future to preserve them.

“I would say to anyone thinking about taking part – do it. Get out and enjoy the birds on your farm and give us the opportunity to shout about the great work you’re doing.”

The identification workshops include two in East Anglia on February 2. The Norfolk event at the Raveningham Estate is hosted by farmer Joe Martin and Heidi Smith from Norfolk FWAG, and runs from 7.30am-11am, including breakfast.

And the Cambridgeshire event runs from 10am-1.30pm on the same day at Hainey Farm on Barway Road at Soham, near Ely, hosted by GWCT head of advisory Roger Draycott and Andrew Holland from the RSPB.

There are 25 places available for each day, costing £10 per person. For more details and bookings, visit www.gwct.org.uk/BFBCID.

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