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What kind of birds have habitats on farms?

Owls in countryside at Sullington Manor Farm

We took part in the Big Farmland Bird Count!

February comes around and the Big Farmland Bird Count crops up again – a chance to enjoy the outdoors whilst trying to gauge which exact small brown bird that was.

Through the UK lockdown, people are engaging more and more with the outdoors and countryside but that has fallen a little by the wayside while the winter chills sweep through the nation.

The Big Farmland Bird Count is an annual event where we record the birds and wildlife on the farmland and shows a tangible positive effect of conservation schemes that we use and engage in on Sullington Manor Farm. The count consists of half an hour of birdwatching from the same spot on your farm for a week at the same time each day.

Some find that the Big Farmland Bird Count engages families and children with the countryside and wildlife whilst trawling through material to identify the exact birds that are habituating on farmland. The spot I have chosen to scout out our native birds looks out across a wide, open landscape full of hedge margins, public footpaths, a natural and medieval pond, unimproved grassland, ancient woodland and fields full of grass to be used for grazing later on in the year. Just behind me are ancient and listed buildings which the birds love to nest in.

Aerial shot of holiday cottages and wedding venue at Sullington Manor Farm, West Sussex
Aerial shot of Sullington Manor Farm, West Sussex

I was lucky enough to see four grey partridges the other day which is a rare sight. Woodpeckers, yellowhammers, robins, blue tits, kestrels, blackbirds and magpies have also been spotted within the bird count which is very exciting. True evidence that spring is just around the corner with so much wildlife surrounding the countryside and Sullington Manor Farm which in turn, is making me really appreciate the natural environment and native flora and fauna.

The tranquil and open space is perfect for a family holiday with young children keen to learn more about the countryside and wildlife – really embracing nature and the beautiful landscape criss-crossed with public footpaths and public bridleways on Sullington Manor Farm. The open space with hedge margins is perfect for native wildlife to really thrive to enable them to create habitats and safely move along the ‘wildlife corridors’ of hedgerows.

Countryside at Sullington Manor Farm, West Sussex
Sullington Manor Farm, West Sussex

The Big Farmland Bird Count was launched in 2014 to highlight the positive work done by farmers and gamekeepers in helping to reverse the decline in farmland bird numbers. The count creates mass data and records of the positive effect of conservation work being done on farmland which will reinstate the huge positive impact the countryside and farms can and do have on the environment.

In 2020, 1500 farmers took part and recorded more than 120 species across 1.4 million acres.

Records showed that a total of twenty-five species from the Red (endangered) List for Birds of Conservation Concern were recorded, with nine appearing in the twenty-five most commonly seen species list. Fieldfares, starlings, linnets and lapwings were the four most abundant red listed species recorded with over 67,000 total spotted which equates to 24% of all the species spotted. Good news!

Nine of the twenty-five most abundant species are on the Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern including: starlings, fieldfares, lapwings, linnets, redwings, herring gulls, yellowhammers, house sparrows and skylarks.

To be honest, I really appreciated an hour a day on my own, outside, properly tuning in to nature. I recommend it even if it isn’t Big Farmland Bird Count week!

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Gail KittleWhat kind of birds have habitats on farms?

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