Which farmland birds are our most abundant?

Pink Footed Geese flying over Snettisham RSPB reserve at as the sunrises.

Pink-footed geese were among the most abundant birds spotted in Norfolk during last winter's Big Farmland Bird Count - Credit: Archant

Farmers, gamekeepers and land managers have been urged to "make a crucial difference to wildlife" by taking part in an annual farmland bird survey.

The ninth Big Farmland Bird Count will take place from 4–20 February 2022, aiming to reveal the most common and abundant species in our countryside.

It is organised by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), which hopes to highlight the work already being done by farmers and gamekeepers to help reverse species’ declines, while also generating vital data to inform future conservation priorities.

Roger Draycott, head of advisory services for the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

Roger Draycott, head of advisory services for the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust - Credit: Chris Hill

Organiser Dr Roger Draycott, the trust's head of advisory services, said: "The latest assessment of the status of the UK’s birds, the Birds of Conservation Concern list, sadly shows that more than one in four species is in serious trouble.

"Land managers and gamekeepers can make a real and immediate difference by adopting effective conservation measures. The UK’s farmland birds are counting on you.

"71pc of the UK’s countryside is looked after by farmers and land managers, many of whom care deeply for the wildlife on their land, so they are in a position to make a real difference

"A few small changes, such as providing supplementary winter feeding or growing crops specifically to provide seed for birds, can have a significant impact.

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"Carrying out a count on your land takes just 30 minutes and gives you a chance to measure the impacts of your conservation efforts, and your results help give GWCT scientists a crucial insight into which bird species are thriving and which are struggling.”

Last winter, Norfolk farmers made the biggest contribution to the nationwide count, with 189 entries recording more than 100 different species.

The most commonly-seen species in the county were blackbirds, robins and woodpigeons - seen by over 77pc of participants - while carrion crows, blue tits and pheasants were seen by over 64pc.

The five most abundant birds seen were pink-footed geese, wigeon, common gull, wood pigeon and rook.

The GWCT said the record-breaking 2021 count also contained "encouraging" signs for birds of conservation concern, with 25 Red List species recorded nationally, including eight in the "25 most frequently seen species" list. 

Of these, starlings, fieldfares, lapwings and linnets were the most abundant.

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