Survey to monitor state of farmland birds

The Fieldfare is an annual winter visitor to Scotland.The Fieldfare is an annual winter visitor to Scotland.
The Fieldfare is an annual winter visitor to Scotland.
An annual survey to help establish the state of Scotland’s farmland birds is due to begin at the start of next month.

The Big Farmland Bird Count, organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) will take place from Friday, February 3 to Sunday, February 19.

Now in its 10th year, the project is the first UK-wide citizen science project to involve farmers in monitoring the country’s farmland birds.

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Since 2014, more than 11,000 counts have been carried out by people working on the land across the country.

The GWCT says that the exercise presents farmers with an opportunity to see and review what they are doing, and can do, to aid biodiversity recovery.

Ross Macleod, head of policy Scotland, said: “Looking after a small family farm myself, it’s really helpful to see how things are going from year to year; 72% of the UK’s total land area is used for agriculture, so farmers, land and woodland managers, and gamekeepers have a vital role to play in the future of wildlife.

“There are multiple pressures on farmers, yet many of them do so much to support wildlife, often unnoticed by the public. The GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count is an opportunity for them to see just what impact their efforts are having and for us to celebrate that hard work,” says Ross Macleod.

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The GWCT is asking land managers to make this year’s count’s the best ever by signing up to take part.

By spending just half an hour in one spot on their land, counting the birds they see and then submitting their results to the GWCT, they will help the trust to build a national picture of which species are benefitting from conservation efforts and which are most in need of help.

And the latest assessment of the status of the UK’s birds, the Birds of Conservation Concern 5 list (2021), suggests that farmland birds need all the help they can get, with more than one in four UK bird species in serious trouble

Land managers can make a real and immediate difference by adopting effective conservation measures. GWCT-science-based advice on boosting biodiversity and supporting farmland birds is available at, where details on how to sign up can also be found.

Signing up is free and no specialist knowledge or equipment is required.

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