We are proud to have taken part in the first annual Big Farmland Bird Count. Launched by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, they urged all farmers and gamekeepers to take part.
The purpose of this annual count is to help determine how our farmland bird species are faring and to highlight the good conservation work being undertaken on farmland across the country.
Farmers and gamekeepers play a crucial role in the survival of farmland birds through beetle banks, margins and game cover.
At Overbury Farms we plant a number of margins with wild bird mix. Wild bird seed mixtures provide vital food for seed-eating birds throughout the winter. Here is a picture of Linnets enjoying one of many Overbury Farms wild bird covers.
We also create beetle banks. Beetle banks are grass mounds, about two metres wide, that run through the middle of large arable fields. A beetle bank provides great habitat for small mammals and for birds, such as corn buntings and skylarks, that prefer to nest in open farmland, away from field boundaries.
The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust want to give farmers an opportunity to show what their conservation efforts deliver on the ground. It is also a satisfying way for us to discover the different species of birds that are on our farm and the results can be surprising.
We counted the birds on 3 different sites across the farm. We spotted a variety of species including robins, pigeons, pheasants, mallards, goldfinch, chaffinch and a coal tit. If you want more information on each species then visit the RSPB website's very useful Bird Guide.
The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust have been busy collating the results over the last few weeks and are preparing to publish them in March. If you are interested in the results then you can register to receive them as they are announced.
This activity highlights the importance of keeping dogs under close control at this time of year. Ground nesting birds, such as pheasants, partridges, lapwings and redshanks, will be looking for nesting sites over the next few weeks. The breeding season will follow from April until July, and avoiding disturbance to these species during this time is vital to their survival.