Here at Courteenhall, we recently took part in the Big Farmland Bird Count, which provides us with a wonderful opportunity to record bird species present around the estate and identify ways in which we can support wildlife habitats, supplementary feeding during the hungry gap and biodiversity.
Organised by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), the initiative provides a simple means of recording the effects of any conservation, which can be used to reflect on, studied and acted upon year on year.
Joining us on this year’s farmland bird count was Kirsty Brannan, a Farm Conservation and Woodland Advisor from Oakbank Game & Conservation Ltd, who also facilitates the Tove Valley Farmers cluster group.
Kirsty recalls the event ‘I think one of the wonderful aspects to the Big Farmland Bird Count is the opportunity to invite others to take part. It's a genuine joy to be able to share the experience.
The weather now has something of a track record in being rather challenging to us on BFBC day, and this count saw the rain come down for the duration of the count. It does make birds harder to record, as they're less likely to want to expend energy feeding and more likely to stay in sheltered cover.
However, we chose some feeding sites and some woods to survey, and did manage to record a respectable number of Robins and Blackbirds, and even a very high-pitched and otherwise invisible Goldcrest.
We listened out for calling birds and tried to distinguish Blackbird's song from the very similar Song thrush. (Hint: the Song thrush tends to repeat its phrases.) We also introduced the idea of birding art 'pishing' - making a particular sshh-sshh noise in order to attract birds. I can't claim definitively that it worked, but we did see some Long-tailed tits and a noisy charm of Goldfinches not long after!
I tend to think that one of the strengths of the BFBC is that it encourages those working the land to take a bit of time to really look at what's there, and to enjoy it. Because we won't manage what we don't care about, and we can't care about what we don't know exists.’
The bird species recorded were sent back to the GWCT and included:
- Herring Gull
- Long-Tailed Tit
- Red Kite
- Song Thrush
- Blue Tit
- Great Tit
To find out more about the Big Farmland bird count visit: https://www.bfbc.org.uk/