Land managers play a “crucial role” in UK songbird survival, say organisers of the Big Farmland Bird Count.

The count run by Fordingbridge-based Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) starts today (Friday, February 5).

“As custodians of the largest songbird habitat in the country, farmers, land managers and gamekeepers play a crucial role in the survival of the UK’s farmland birds,” said Dr Roger Draycott of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust.

“The GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count aims to encourage even more of them to include conservation measures in the daily running of their farm, estate or shoot.”

The count’s organisers are asking land managers to spend 30 minutes, between February 5 and 14, recording the farmland birds they see in one area of their land.

“Many land managers carry out vital conservation work, largely unseen by the public,” continues Roger. “By taking part in the count year on year, they can see how the conservation work they are doing is having an impact and our scientists can build a picture of the health of the UK’s farmland bird species. The GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count is a very positive way to showcase what can be achieved.”

Last year’s count saw more than 1500 land managers take part. The GWCT hopes to beat that number this year. The Trust’s advisory service provides guidance to land managers, based on decades of research, on ways to boost their wild bird populations.

The GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count is sponsored by the NFU. NFU President Minette Batters said: “Alongside producing climate-friendly food, farmers are working hard to maintain and improve the iconic British countryside by enhancing habitats, supporting pollinators and soils, and protecting wildlife. The Big Farmland Bird Count is always a fantastic way for farmers to record the birdlife found on their farms. I am pleased that the NFU is able to sponsor this event and I would encourage all farmers to take part.”

As most participants count on their own land, alone or with family members, the count can be safely carried out within Covid restrictions. Find out how to take part by going to