Records broken in Big Farmland Bird Count

A group taking part in this years count.

A group taking part in this years count.

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This February, throughout the Borders, flocks of farmers, gamekeepers and land managers joined together to count their farmland birds.

Throughout Scotland nearly 1,000 farmers spotted a total of 130 species and this has helped make the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) 2016 Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) an incredible success.

Taking half an hour out of their busy schedules to count, the farmers, gamekeepers and land managers dusted off their binoculars to see just how much their conservation work is helping their resident birds.

In total, 130 different species were spotted, which is the highest number of species counted since the BFBC was launched in 2014.

In addition, this year a total of 25 Red List species were recorded, again beating the numbers spotted during previous counts.

It was particularly exciting to see six of these in the 25 most commonly seen species list: fieldfares, house sparrows, starlings, yellowhammers, song thrushes and skylarks.

Many people took part across Scotland, counting 120 different species. House sparrows were seen by nearly 50% of those taking part from the area, joining 22 other species spotted from the Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern.

With the BFBC now in its third year, the GWCT is starting to see some patterns developing. For example, this year’s five most abundant birds seen were woodpigeons, starlings, rooks, fieldfares and lapwings. These are almost the same as in 2014 and 2015, except lapwings have pushed chaffinches down to sixth place.

The fourth GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count will take place from February 4-15, 2017, with free bird identification training days being arranged across the UK.