What are the five most abundant birds on Norfolk farmland?

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

Pink-footed geese were among the most abundant species spotted in Norfolk during the 2021 Big Farmland Bird Count - Credit: Matthew Usher

For the third year running, Norfolk farmers have made the biggest contribution to the nationwide Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) – revealing the most common and abundant species in our countryside.

Organisers at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) said there had been a record response to this year's count, which took place between February 5-21. 

Norfolk submitted more counts than any other county, with 189 farmers recording more than 100 different species across more than 933,000 acres of land - a 31pc increase in participation from last year.

A robin sitting on a snowy tree branch

Robins were among the most-seen birds in Norfolk during the 2021 Big Farmland Bird Count - Credit: Richard Brunton / iWitness24

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. A total of more than 28,000 were seen, making up over 51pc of the total number of birds recorded.

Organisers said they were also encouraged to see 20 threatened species from the Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern recorded, including six in the "top 25 most frequently seen species" list. Starling, fieldfare, song thrush and lapwing were the four most abundant red-listed species recorded, with more than 7,000 spotted.

Dr Roger Draycott, who organised the count, said the results highlighted the conservation efforts of farmers, with 53pc of Norfolk participants engaged in agri-environment schemes, and many providing additional food for wild birds by growing seed-rich plants or supplying additional grain in the winter.

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“All of this helps us to build a detailed national picture of the state of Britain’s farmland birds, allowing us to better understand what is really going on in our countryside," he said.

"It clearly shows that farmers, land managers and gamekeepers care for the land they work and, given that they look after 71pc of all the land in the UK, that is extremely good news for the future of our treasured bird species."

A wigeon sitting on the marshes at Salthouse

Wigeons were among the most abundant species spotted in Norfolk during the 2021 Big Farmland Bird Count - Credit: Peter Dent / iWitness24

Gary Ford, East Anglia regional director for the National Farmers' Union (NFU), which sponsored the count, said: “I’m delighted that the count was so well-supported by farmers in East Anglia, with Norfolk leading the way with 189 submissions.

“The fact that so many farmers responded to this year’s count, despite the wintry weather in February, is testament to their commitment to looking after the environment alongside producing quality food - providing the habitats that allow our wildlife to thrive."

The full national results will be published on the GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count website.

Blackbird perched in white blossom.

Blackbirds were among the most-seen birds in Norfolk during the 2021 Big Farmland Bird Count - Credit: Garry Dockerill / iWitness24

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