The recovery in populations of farmland birds is long term work-in-progress. But there is hope ahead. Go count some birds (when it’s not raining).
Make no bones about it – it’s a slog. After the Second World War farmers were encouraged to become more efficient (The Archers radio show was launched as a government information service for farmers), and with rapidly changing farming practices between the late 70s and early 90s, farmland birds suffered major declines.
The era of food rationing, both during and after the war, left a long shadow over an island nation. Today, with access to more food we can fit in our trolleys, we now seek to reverse declines in wildlife.
Some farmers have been busy at this work – you just don’t hear from them. Twenty years of research have shown that declines in numbers of farmland birds can be turned around:
Targeting, tweaking land management practices to create, or enhance habitat that then provides shelter, food and nesting places; managing some of the predators, and even better, working in a group such as the South Wiltshire Farmland Bird Project – all pay dividends.
But we need to keep counting. Without measurement, it’s hard to manage. Without hearing from others, it’s hard to hope. So bring on the Big Farmland Bird Count: – between the 3th and 12th February go spend 30 minutes counting birds on farmland near you.