Three great reasons to make 2020 the year of your first Big Farmland Bird Count

17 January 2020

BFBC 2020

It’s that time of year again; GWCT’s Big Farmland Bird Count is just around the corner (7-16 February) and is sponsored by the NFU for the 2nd year running.

Last year saw a record-breaking count with 1,400 people taking part – a 40% increase on the previous year, recording 140 species over 1 million acres. However, with current NFU membership numbers sitting at 55,000+, there are still many farmers and land managers who have yet to get involved.

Here are three reasons to make 2020 the year of your first Big Farmland Bird Count:
  1. You might learn something about your farm
    • You know your farm better than anyone. You know your crop rotations, your livestock movements, your wet and dry fields. But what do you know about the wildlife on your farm?
      If you have never set time aside to consider this, the BFBC is the perfect opportunity. 30 minutes to look at your farm from a different perspective might help you to appreciate both the pleasure of being a custodian of our countryside, and the business opportunities of paid-for environmental management.
  2. Results from the BFBC help us to champion the great work farmers do in caring for the environment
    • CFE partners such as the NFU and GWCT use data on the great work you do to promote farmers’ interests with government and the public. The more data we have to make the case for support for farmers, the stronger this case will be. The information gathered by the BFBC is a unique snapshot of bird populations on farmland which adds another tool to the toolbox for championing the farmed environment and you, the farmers who care for it.
  3. You might enjoy it!
    • The mental-health benefits of taking time out to appreciate the natural world are well documented. Add to this the sense of pride you can take in creating and caring for farmland bird habitat and those 30 minutes in a busy week will be time invested, not time wasted. You are your farm’s most valuable asset; think of the BFBC as a ‘maintenance period’ for yourself.

Big Farmland Bird Count launch Minette Battters_62716

NFU President Minette Batters enjoying a soggy BFBC on her farm near Salisbury in 2019

Don’t be put off by the thought that you might not recognise some bird species. You probably know more than you think (robin, starling, goldfinch…) and GWCT have a handy guide for some of the trickier ones.

If in doubt, why not take a camera with you? Take a snap of any you’re not sure of and look them up when you get home. The RSPB have a hand ‘identify a bird’ tool you can use to whittle down the options by size, colour, beak etc.

You can register, download your guide and count sheet and send in your sightings at There are even some prizes up for grabs, so don’t forget to submit your results.


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