Blackbird top of Big Farmland Bird Count

Blackbirds were the most common species seen by Scottish farmers

Blackbirds were the most common species seen by Scottish farmers

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An army of farmers, gamekeepers and land managers looking after nearly one million acres of farmland took part in the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s second Big Farmland Bird Count in February.

And in Scotland 52 per cent more people took part this year than last, with a total of 79 different species being counted.

The five most common birds seen on Scottish farms this winter were blackbird, seen by 85 per cent of farmers, followed by chaffinch (83 per cent), robin (80 per cent), buzzard (76 per cent) and blue tits, seen by almost 70 per cent of the farmers taking part.

A total of 14 red list species of conservation concern were also recorded north of the Border with starling, linnet and fieldfare being amongst the top 10 recorded birds.

Spending just half-an-hour during the week-long count, nearly one thousand people, representing every county in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, swapped their tractors for binoculars to see how their conservation efforts were boosting the recovery of farmland birds.

Jim Egan, from the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Allerton Project, said: “Double the number of farmers turned out across the UK this winter and between them they recorded more than 127 different species on their farms. This was a remarkable achievement, particularly as they monitored an additional 11 species compared to 2014.”

Compared with last year, 10 additional species of birds were recorded, including cirl bunting and Cettie’s warbler, as well as 13 species of raptor.