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Survey reveals the top five most-seen birds on Norfolk farms

PUBLISHED: 15:24 03 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:24 03 April 2020

Robins are among the five most-seen birds on Norfolk farmland, according to the 2020 Big Farmland Bird Count. Picture: Garry Dockerill / iWitness24

Robins are among the five most-seen birds on Norfolk farmland, according to the 2020 Big Farmland Bird Count. Picture: Garry Dockerill / iWitness24

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For the second year running, Norfolk farmers have made the biggest contribution to the nationwide Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) – which has revealed the most abundant species in our countryside.

Blackbirds are among the five most-seen birds on Norfolk farmland, according to the 2020 Big Farmland Bird Count. Picture: Garry Dockerill / iWitness24Blackbirds are among the five most-seen birds on Norfolk farmland, according to the 2020 Big Farmland Bird Count. Picture: Garry Dockerill / iWitness24

Organisers at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) said the initiative proved that farmers are not only at the frontline of the country’s food security, but also its conservation efforts.

Every county in England took part in February’s survey, with Norfolk topping the list with 129 returns, followed by Wiltshire with 68, and Hampshire and Suffolk with 67 each.

Norfolk farmers covering 105,148 acres of land counted 105 bird species – 22 of which are on the “red list” for conservation concern. The top five most-seen species were blackbird, woodpigeon, robin, pheasant, and blue tit.

GWCT’s head of advisory Roger Draycott, who co-ordinated this year’s count, said: “Farmers in Norfolk have once again shown how passionate they are about conserving wildlife on their land.

Blue tits are among the five most-seen birds on Norfolk farmland, according to the 2020 Big Farmland Bird Count. Picture: Peter Dent / iWitness24Blue tits are among the five most-seen birds on Norfolk farmland, according to the 2020 Big Farmland Bird Count. Picture: Peter Dent / iWitness24

“The fact we received a record-breaking number of count returns despite Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis wreaking havoc for many farm businesses is remarkable.

“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.”

Nationally, 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. The five most abundant birds seen were woodpigeons, starlings, lapwings, black-headed gulls and rooks.

READ MORE: Wildlife is thriving as coronavirus lockdown leaves countryside deserted

The BFBC was launched in 2014 to highlight the positive work done by farmers and gamekeepers to reverse long-term declines in farmland birds. The survey areas included important environmental features such as hedges, woodland edges, ponds, grass margins, wild bird cover, ditches and woodland.

Pheasants are among the five most-seen birds on Norfolk farmland, according to the 2020 Big Farmland Bird Count. Picture: Frances Crickmore / iWitness24Pheasants are among the five most-seen birds on Norfolk farmland, according to the 2020 Big Farmland Bird Count. Picture: Frances Crickmore / iWitness24

More than half the participants this year were in a formal agri-environment scheme, and more than a third were providing extra food for birds, either through growing wild bird seed mixes or by providing additional grain through hoppers or “scatter feeding”.

Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), which sponsors the BFBC, said: “The Big Farmland Bird Count is a great way for farmers to record the birdlife found on their farms. British farmers will continue to work around the clock to produce food for the nation, particularly during the current exceptional circumstances, and will continue to protect and enhance our iconic British countryside.”

For the full results, see the Big Farmland Bird Count website.


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