Freezing sunrise at Turnastone Court Farm
The month of February is hard for all of us, but it is especially tough on birds. The harsh weather and frozen ground limit food abundance in a time where they need calories most. Farms can offer an important helping hand, for instance, leftover seeds from arable fields.

The Big Farmland Bird Count is a survey initiative created by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust that takes place across the nation by farmers, bird lovers and anyone else who wants to participate. The data gathered provide useful information about bird species numbers during this challenging time of year. The survey results also show how bird populations change annually on farms in the UK.

Vince Lea and I carried out the Big Farmland Bird Count survey on both Turnastone Court Farm and Awnells Farm in Herefordshire. We spent 30 minutes counting all the birds seen within two hectares of where we were stood, recording the number of each species present.
One of seven starlings recorded

Turnastone

At Turnastone there was a total of 22 species - five of which are red-listed and two that are amber listed Birds of Conservation Concern (BoCC). One redwing (a schedule one species on the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981), two mistle thrush enjoying the mistletoe berries that grow in the orchards, and seven starlings were present - all of which are UK red-listed birds.


Awnells 

House Sparrow
House sparrow
At Awnells Farm 17 species were counted – four red-listed and one dunnock that is amber-listed. The most abundant bird species during the count at Awnells was the house sparrow. A count of 13 is encouraging because, even though they are very familiar to most and relatively common, their recent rapid rate of decline has resulted in their place on the UK red-list for birds.

The Big Farmland Bird Count is a fantastic opportunity for members of the public to get involved in some valuable citizen science. It provides information which can be used to reverse the decline in farmland birds and provides evidence of the positive impact that conservation work on farms can have for our beloved birds.

Ruth Moss
Herefordshire Wildlife Monitor

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