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Time to count

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale

FARMERS, land managers and gamekeepers are being urged to circle February 9-18 in their diary for this year’s Big Farmland Bird Count, It takes just 30 minutes to take part in the count, and founder and organiser Jim Egan, of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, is hoping for a big turnout. He said: “A great number of farmers and keepers are doing tremendous work to boost farmland birds and other wildlife. As well as planting seed mixes to provide winter feed, they also leave weedy stubbles over-winter, manage hedgerows so as to leave berries for food, and supplement this by putting out mixed seeds and grain on tracks and field margins. “However, not everyone appreciates the extent to which farmers and keepers are managing existing habitats and creating new ones specifically to help our farmland birds. Now is the time to change all that.” Last year, 970 farmers and keepers took part and recorded 112 species across 900,000 acres. They recorded 22 Red List species including fieldfare, tree sparrow, starling, yellowhammer and song thrush. The count aims to help farmers and keepers build a record of birds on their farm so they can, where necessary, target their conservation work. At the end of the count, the results will be analysed by the trust. All participants will receive a report on the national results once they have been collated. To find out more, go to


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