The recovery of farmland birds is long term work-in-progress. Go count some birds 5-14 Feb, support research and get away from zoom!
Make no bones about it – it’s been a tough journey. Post Second World War farmers were encouraged to become more efficient – The Archers BBC radio series was a government information service launched in 1955 for farmers. With rapidly changing farming practices between the late 70s and early 90s, farmland birds suffered major declines. These have now slowed.
Twenty years of partnership research (full pdf) with RSPB and GWCT have shown that declines in numbers of farmland birds can be turned around. Full pdf of paper here. Targeting, tweaking land management practices creates, enhances habitat (shelter, food and nesting sites – see link to hedges and magpies via RSPB) – alongside targeted management of predators where required.
Even better, working in a group such as the South Wiltshire Farmland Bird Project pays dividends with farmers coming together under govt funded facilitation groups. Here’s a new farmer group in East Anglia. ‘Farmer clusters’ are another vehicle to help deliver wildlife at a landscape scale.
There’s much more going out there than recorded on a screen. But without measurement, it’s hard to manage. Without hearing from others, it’s sometimes hard to maintain unfunded environmental work just for the joy. So let’s celebrate these annual Big Farmland Bird Counts if just to stretch those ‘lockdown legs’.